aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

The Tramp

I was twelve years old, home alone, when the tramp came to our back door. I didn't let him in the house, nor did he try to enter. He and I talked through the screen door. He asked if we had any food.

He was a gentle-sounding man. Probably not as old as I am now, but he seemed ancient to me then. He petted our outdoor cat while I figured out what to do. I was flustered. I had never handled such a request before.

We were low on anything portable, but I made him a cheese sandwich (we were out of lunchmeat), and got him some instant coffee. I don't remember if I found anything else. I should have added the leftover angel food cake in its wrapper, but I didn't know what my mother would think. The man was grateful for whatever we had to spare.

He took my meager offering and went on his way. He said he would be camping down by White River that evening. He had no gear that I saw (though he said he could boil water), so I imagine he would be sleeping rough. At age twelve, that seemed as normal to me as any other part of the world I was growing up in. People do what they do, and kids work it into their picture of the world. When my mother came home, I told her about the encounter. She looked concerned -- nobody wants their children dealing with strangers alone -- but she seemed proud of me, nevertheless.

The tramp came unbidden into my thoughts again this morning, more than fifty years later. I have kicked myself ever since that night that I didn't give him the leftover cake. But at least, when Jesus came to my door, I didn't send him away with nothing.

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