#WednesdaysWithHenry…day 9

Just to clarify, today isn’t the 9th day of Henry Kelley being a part of my life, it just happens to be the 10th posting of this blog thingy. I wanted people to be able to follow along without getting lost, or maybe it just helps me keep track of this crazy experience better.

Friday January 15th I have clients close to my house so I’m going solo in the morning. I get a few cars washed and do a complete detail on a Mercedes SUV and I can honestly say that it’s more fun working with Henry when I do these now. I enjoy our conversations and the fluidity of them is much like a roller coaster or Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, you really don’t know what’s coming next.

We were hoping to have a job interview today at City Chevrolet so I told Henry to look his best. The day before our friend Julie Darling had given Henry some clothes that a vendor she knows donated to her and Henry was so incredibly proud to be wearing one of his new t-shirts. Since it was new he decided that it made more sense to wear that then the Hawaiian shirt that he said he “makes look good”. I often forget that Henry can’t read so when he was given the shirts it never dawned on me to tell him what they say. Well showing up in a Jameson’s Whiskey t-shirt to a job interview didn’t make much sense to me but I didn’t want to embarrass Henry in any way so we just rescheduled the interview and the Sales Manager was very kind about it.

One of my friends had asked if Henry and I could come detail “her baby” that day so we headed to North Park, another part of town that Henry has never been to. It’s fun to see the city through his eyes.

Donna Smith was absolutely incredible with Henry, I didn’t expect anything but kindness from her, she made him feel as if they were life long friends and immediately hugged him when we arrived. I’ve known Donna on Facebook for over 2 years but we hadn’t even met in person, she made me feel the same way.

As usual Henry and I talked about a litany of things while detailing her 4Runner. He mentioned that if he had a vehicle that nice he would definitely go camping in it and asked if I’d ever want to go camping with him. Silly Henry, Kari doesn’t camp.

I generally do not deviate from my routine as I’ve found I may be a little OCD and that isn’t being said to offend anyone, I have never been diagnosed with it but some of my tendencies are spot on. Today I changed things up a bit and asked Henry to do a few things that I normally did when working together and I did what he would do. Henry kept asking me if I was sure that I wanted to do this…gosh he even get’s me.

Donna asked if she could have a picture in front of her truck with Henry before we left. Then Henry said he wanted one of the two of us. He had never used my phone to take a picture so it took a few minutes. When he had the two of us move a little here, then move there I just said, “Oh my God Annie Liebowitz just showed up.” Henry then mentioned my sarcassim to Donna, we all laughed because he didn’t need to point it out.

I knew that Henry had showered that morning but his hair just didn’t look clean so I asked about his shampoo situation. They have dispensers at the hotel but obviously it isn’t very good quality shampoo so we went to Rite Aid to buy some for him. We chose Head and Shoulders with a conditioner in it and I let him know that he should use as much as he wanted to make sure that his hair looked great when done. He loves his hair and I reminded him that he can wash it everyday now since he’s in the hotel.

A friend had sent a care package to my house and Henry opened it up while we were in the parking lot at Rite Aid. He was very excited about the new t-shirts, some soup, peanut butter crackers, toiletries and pencils. He let me know that the pencils will come in handy when writing in the journal that I ordered for us.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for Henry to have been living on the streets, having no reference to the time of day, no responsiblities other than staying safe, warm, dry and alive and then all of a sudden having someone like me drop into your life. Some have called me a “fixer”, other’s a “leader” and once I was called “controlling”, but that is the furthest from what I’m about.

During this entire journey I’ve asked Henry what he’s thinking about, how he’s feeling, if he’s ok with what we’re trying to do. Some days I don’t have a doubt in my mind that Henry’s going to make it. We will find him a job that he likes and does well at, and in turn we get him into an apartment and possibly one day he is able to “buy a trailer”. Other days he gets overwhelmed and asks me to stop helping him because it scares him how much he cares about me and he doesn’t want to let me down. I gently remind Henry that we don’t have to do anything that he doesn’t want to do and that I’m proud of him no matter what.

All I ask of Henry is to give it a go. I don’t want him to be overwhelmed, he has had a lifetime of that. I believe in Henry Kelley and so we continue on this journey together with baby steps.

Once again when dropping him off I hand Henry money and he tries to give it back to me. He’s always saying that just getting the hotel room is enough and he can figure out a way to “make money”, and then I reminded him that he did earn the money that I’m “paying” him and I appreciate his help. It was a good day with Henry again.

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