The Winter Man – by Marj Kenny

old man art

On a cold winter’s morning, an old man sat awkwardly against a wall at Sydney’s Circular Quay station. I glanced his way for a moment and walked on along with the throng of people caught up in the bustle of commuting.

On my way home that afternoon, I saw the same man in the same place. He was crumpled over, his head almost on the ground. Two ambulance attendants were crouched beside him. This time my step paused. He was old certainly and wore a nice suit and was clean-shaven. And he was in a very bad way.

Shame rocked me. How torturous for that sick, old man to have endured the coldness of the entire day, sitting on the hard, unforgiving ground. He probably reached out to passersby for help.

No-one stopped. No-one cared. Out of sight, out of mind.

A different season and I again came across an old man half lying on the footpath, not far from where the Winter Man had been. The morning heat was stifling. Caught up in the familiar stampede of people commuting, I barely glanced at him. However, the memory of the old Winter Man came back to me vividly.

I walked back to the man on the ground. He was dressed in smart clothes with a neatly trimmed beard and only a straw hat for shade. I knelt down to ask if he was OK. His kind face looked at me.

Beside him, a takeaway cup of coffee and sugar sachets lay open. A flow of people kept walking by.

He regained consciousness, albeit weakly, and told me he was diabetic and it might be a good idea to call an ambulance, which I did – it was a few minutes away.

In barely a whisper, he said to me, “Nobody stopped. Thank you.”

Fighting back tears, I asked his name.

“Greg,” he said.

We looked into each others eyes for a moment. Volumes were spoken without a word being uttered.

I saw a proud man who didn’t like what was happening to him. As the approaching ambulance’s siren proclaimed the arrival of help, a number of emotions rushed at me. I felt sadness tugging at my heart for the Winter Man and shame that I had almost walked past another person in need.

I was amazed that it had been so easy to be helpful.


Have a friend who might like this tale of Kindness? Please share!


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11 comments

  1. This is a touching well written very soul searching post, reminding your readers that it is always a good idea to reach out to your fellow man/woman, that in the long run reaching out takes very little effort. Thank you for this touching reminder. Horti you seem to me to be a wonderful lady, one who it would be an honor to call you a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marj please accept my apologies, you wrote this beautiful post and Horti re-posted it. Anyone who could write this way would also make a wonderful friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Georgiakevin’s comments your Winter Man is well written and soul searching. Tears come to my eyes each time I read it.
    You are a wonderful friend and beautiful sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I am Marj and I am very grateful for the beautiful re-posting of my little story. The Winter Man still haunts today me but I’ve never walked past anyone on the ground since. Sometimes just the words “are you okay?” brings a surprised reaction followed by appreciation that they are recognised as a person who is, or could be, in need of help. I just know that if I were on the ground, I would hope that someone would ask me if I was okay. There are more people out there willing to lend a helping hand and share the kindness in their hearts than we are aware of. Thank goodness for them. And they, are most of us.

      Liked by 1 person

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