The Quiet One


November 2010


Note: RED! editor Jeffrey Hillard recently worked on “The Quiet One” with its author who shall remain anonymous.

There is something to be said for the one who speaks multitudes of wisdom, morality, kindness, and patience, yet rarely says a word. Others typically refer to him as “the quiet one”; I refer to him as my hero.

I was in my teenage years when I met Vince who was two years my elder, and although I was reluctant to communicate with men, I was instantly drawn to his sweet but strong demeanor. I had been living on the streets for some time when I first met him and I was sure that he would have nothing to do with a homeless girl and I could not have blamed him. Life on the streets was not easy; I slept at the park, atop fire escapes, cemeteries, or the back seats of friends’ cars. However, I have to admit that I felt more at peace and safer on those streets than I did living at home. As a child I had suffered the hands of a violent-tempered man and a weak- willed mother who felt trapped by fear as well as an irrational infatuation for my father that she insistently called love.

The fallacy that she believed was love left me physically and emotionally tattered and torn. The month before I left I was beaten so badly that I had two blackened eyes, a swollen face, and a dislocated jaw – and those were the marks you could see. I was fiercely angry, confused, and afraid. I was afraid of living and I was afraid of dying, so there I was stuck in between the two worlds of life and death with only myself and all that came with it. It wasn’t long after that when Vince came into my life, as if he were a walking angel. We were instantly and mutually intrigued by one another. It did not take long for us to become best friends as well as inseparable.

However, not everyone was as happy as I that we had found one another. Vince’s family warned him of the harm that could come from being with someone like me. Again, I could not blame them, for their only intention was to protect the son that they love. Yet, we could not be detached and any efforts to do so quickly failed.

He quickly gained my trust with his gentle actions and words. I will never forget the first time I went for a ride in his car and he pulled into a local drive-thru restaurant. He didn’t know it but I hadn’t eaten in days and I was so hungry I would swear my stomach was eating my backbone. However, asking him to buy me food was out of the question because I would only feel guilty for doing so. When he pulled up to the speaker he asked me if I wanted something to eat and I simply said, “No thanks.” After getting his food and pulling out of the driveway he looked at me out of the corner of his eye and turned around and went back through the drive- thru and ordered me a cheeseburger, fries, and a drink. It was the best meal I had ever eaten and I had never felt so safe, blessed and happy in my life. It wasn’t difficult to see that those comforting feelings weren’t because of the food, but because of the warmth of the person who bought it.

Those instances of kindness continued throughout the time we spent together. It wasn’t long until Vince went above and beyond the call of humanity and took me off the streets by renting an apartment for me with money he earned making minimum wage as a church janitor. I really didn’t know how to show my appreciation for his gesture but I knew that I was falling head over heels in love with him with an undeniable force.

He continued to guide me throughout the years, showing me how obtaining my GED was an imperative beginning to a successful life, and how it was! We eventually moved in together and married, and then a few years later found ourselves giving birth to an amazing baby boy who has since grown into a fine young man. I eventually became a Registered Medical assistant, while he worked as a commercial plumber. He maintained patience through the time it took me to grow into my own skin. I suffered with horrible panic attacks and insecurities which came greatly from the abuse of my father, and the consequences of living on the streets, such as being raped. Yet, Vince did not falter; he was like a rock, and never once did he grow weak or walk away. He loved me and I loved him. With that love we worked though all the trials and tribulations successfully and continued on a positive path.

You would think that this would say enough about the “Quiet One” but in reality, this is only a small gesture of all the wonderful things he has done. Not only did he continually love me and our son unconditionally, but when I came to him with the story of a fourteen-year old girl whose mother chose the boyfriend over the daughter, and who subsequently needed a home, he agreed to open up ours to her and we adopted her. This was not an easy decision because she too came with the same trials and tribulations as I had but with even more added personal challenges. Again, Vince was patient, strong, and loving. To be honest, I don’t think he can be any other way.

Now that we are in our young forties, I am just about to graduate in four weeks with a G.P.A. of 3.86, with my undergraduate degree in Psychology. In addition, I have already been accepted into graduate school for Mental Health Counseling, which brings me to the message I wish to share. In this essay, I cannot express to you all the prodigious acts of kindness that Vince has done throughout the years of his life, simply because it would take a book to chronicle. What I can tell you is that because of his benevolent demeanor, wisdom, incredible patience, and love, the world is a better place to live in and I am a better person. If I had not met Vince I would have likely ended up with a much different ending to this story such as being a drug-ridden prostitute. However, my story did not have to be written that way, and in turn, much like a butterfly effect, through my career as a counselor I hope to help write happy endings to other peoples’ stories. I thank God for the “Quiet One” every single day of my life and I know that although he would say, “I’m not anyone special, I’m just me,” I know that he is an unsung hero.