Where will they be this Christmas Eve

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    Mark Acu

    I have been contemplating whether to write this or not for a few weeks now but have decided to go ahead. It was a situation I found myself in last Christmas Eve that had a profound affect on me and I would like to share it as I believe there is a lesson in it for many of us.

    My Dad died in early November last year and on 21st Dec my mother had two massive heart attacks and survived thanks to the amazing Doctors in Cavan General and in the Mater in Dublin.

    On Christmas Eve my brother was getting ready to go back to Cavan to his family as I walked him to his car we saw a woman begging on the street. She was in her thirties and not wearing a lot of heavy warm clothes and you could see her teeth were chattering. It was a freezing night not unlike our recent weather. Myself and my brother looked at each other and neither of us could speak. He gave her some money and headed off home. I went back into the hospital as mother was still in Intensive Care and I was staying in the relatives room overnight.

    I went into the canteen in the hospital and brought the lady on the street out a meal and gave it to her I had tears in my eyes doing it as I could not believe it was happening on Christmas Eve. I asked her if she had a coat and she said she didn’t. I remembered I had my Fathers coat in the car and knew if her were still alive he would be giving it to her. Off to my car I went and came back to her with it. I told her it was my fathers and she started crying and said that she knew someone who needed it more that her down the road. So we walked in the freezing cold and chatted she asked me why I was not at home on Christmas Eve and I explained. She stopped looked at me and told me not to worry as things would be fine you have to be positive and that she would pray for my mother. I melted on the spot, how could someone on the streets on Christmas Eve with no coat and food stop and give me support. I was so overwhelmed. She brought me to her friend a man who likewise had no coat, who she told my story to. He took my fathers coat and put it on and thanked me and my father for giving it to him.

    I went back to the hospital and seen my mother and realized how lucky I was. That night in the hospital I wondered where they where and would they be cold. The following morning I had the best Christmas present ever walking into the room where my mother was and seeing her smile back at me. She was not at home but she was alive.

    I left the hospital to go to my brothers house and on the way down I seen the man I gave the coat to on Christmas Eve wearing it, and knew it was what my father wanted me to do.

    My lesson from this experience was not to judge. I thought I was helping by giving that lady some food. What she gave me back was priceless……………………………….

    One year on I will be at home for Christmas and so will my mother, I pray that lady will be at her home too.


    Wow Mark, that is so inspiring, sitting here with tears in my eyes, thanks for posting that.

    Just goes to show, you cannot know what to expect from people – who knows that happened to that lady and how she ended up on the streets but she still had kindness in her, despite her awful circumstances.

    We have been supporting Focus Ireland this year, buying Christmas cards etc from them; as they support homeless people by giving them some food and shelter and helping get them rehoused. It’s not much but I guessevery little bit they get in donations helps – I hope that woman got rehoused and is safe and warm for Christmas this year and I hope your Dad’s coat is still keeping someone warm.

    We are so thankful for our family and home, it is something we never take for granted.


    What a lovely story..I hope the people you met are safe this Xmas..



    I told my mam your story the other day and she said there was a good reason why you had your dads coat in your car and that was to help somebody who really needed it.

    Hopefully that man and woman have a home to go to this Christmas and they are warm, dry and safe.

    Its a sad story but you helped the only way you could by giving your dads coat and some money and that lady helped you by offering her condolsences for your dad and by saying a prayer for your mam.


    And the tears are streaming down my face….
    Thank you for sharing Mark….

    "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" ….

    Or perhaps in your case Mark…. to share a coat….. 😉


    lovely story mark….


    same here..very moving story Mark..thanks for sharing with us.

    Mark Acu

    Thank you all for your comments and I am sorry for causing some tears. 🙁

    It was weird earlier as it was the first time I had written anything about it and I was quite amazed at how it brought a lot of feelings back.

    I love Chewieodies quote

    "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" ….



    By no means sad tears Mark…. rather just expressing feelings of hope and appreciation for those near and dear to us… and empathy for those who are without this Christmas…x


    exactly as for many we think of christmas as a joyful, family time….however for many christmas brings sadness, desperation and the wanting of it to pass….we need to be aware of this and evey little helps, whether it a friendly gesture to someone like Mark did etc….we can try and help those get through christmas to thenew year of new hopes and beginnings

    i too like chewie’s quote so true….


    Lovely story – Had to take my glasses off because of the tears….

    We should never take anything for Granted…..

    An Inspiration…..


    Mark Sorry too hear about the loss of your dad, hope your mam is doing well xxxx

    I always stop and think on cold wet nights about homeless people, i was laughing reading your post as it reminded me of my mam and my fathers coats after he died. Mam had his coat and clothes in the press for over a year, she couldnt face getting rid of them, she was in Dublin city one day and she seen a homeless guy in a door way with no jacket.
    That day she went home, packed them up and waited for me to come home from work, we went into the Drug/homeless centre down on wood quay…. she was so proud that she was able to give away my dads things, dad had a few lovely overcoatsand she seen a guy wearing his coat one day, she was in floods of tears but she also know that its something that would have made my dad happy……

    He always had a thing about looking after homeless people and when we were children he would give 20 pounds then when we were teenagers we it went to 50 pounds, our gift to him at Christmas was to find a homeless person and give them the money… I still do it and i got my dh to do it a few times in Dublin, after he was chased up Abbey street by a homeless guy trying to kiss him he never gave again 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

    On a sad note my sister works in the Central Bank and what i might post next might upset people, but it has to be said….. she would be a real soft touch, every morning on her way to work she would get the 2 old guys who used to sleep rough at the rear carpark of the central bank a breakfast roll and a cup of tea to heat them up. She found one of them dead one morning last winter, she was sooo upset. Only a few weeks later the other fella was found dead too…. she said from her office she can see at least 2 or 3 bodies being taken away EVERY winter and im sure more this year 😯 What has her so ANGRY is that there is never a crime scene or as much as a report in the paper, its like they are dirt and its a "so what" attutide
    They are someones child, sister, cousin…. its heartbreaking, again another massive system failure of the Irish State, push them to the side streets and forget about them, once homeless its very hard to get off the streets

    Mark Acu

    Wow Taylor what a amazing post the first part is really nice and I can totally understand all the emotion in it. I think what your Dad started was a incredible thing to do and its things like that which make a real difference. I have stopped giving to charities on the street as I need to know where a donation of anything is actually going. We need to let people in need know that we as people see and care.

    The last section of your post is truly heart breaking but unfortunately soooo true. Many people think it’s a issue in other countries, whereas its literally on our door step. I just received this link on my face book page http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A … ut&h=ca760

    At least these guys are getting a taste of whats its like. I have to say looking at the list there are one or two ones I would LOVE to see out doing it but are not. Fair play to the ones whom are though.


    Financial Companion

    It’s ironic that at the time we think of family and wellbeing, the homeless have to endure the coldest weather of the year! The program last night (think it was tv3) where the journalist slept rough and had a camera crew nearby as well as a hidden camera in his baseball cap. He couldn’t get over the kindness and concern of some people but equally saw how bad they can be treated. He walked into a restaurant hoping to get a starter and cup of coffee to be told they were booked out. One of the camera crew went in 60 seconds later and asked for a table for 6, no problem! It’s a shame that some scammers who operate in crews, have made people more cautious about giving! Although I think some people are genuinely afraid to go anywhere near strangers. When the traffic lights were first erected in the middle of the road at the entrance to scotch hall, a woman drove straight into the pole. Nobody seemed to be going to help her as I passed, so I pulled in up the road and ran back where not only was she shaken but smoke was bellowing out of the dashboard. I couldn’t leave her in the smoke while waiting for the ambulance, so gave her a quick basic first aid check over try and judge that it would be safe to move her, rang her husband from her mobile and got her out of the car and to safety on the pavement. Still, nobody else had stopped to help! The message at the end of last night’s program was that "there is hope". Unfortunately, not quick enough for the poor souls that Taylor described at the central bank!! My mil (the last of my and dw’s parents) died Christmas 2 years ago. It always seems a bit sadder when it occurs at this time of year! Mark, things often have a way of balancing, the chance meeting with the homeless girl, was a way of you stepping into positive action at a time when you needed positivity. Hopefully that girl is this year in a position to help someone else! Good health to you and your mam this Christmas.


    I watched that programme last night on TV3 and it was very interesting,the kindness and good nature of those people, even though they were living on the streets was really touching. They had no home, no prospects but still they were kind to that guy who was pretending to be homeless.

    really makes you think…so sad. wonder how many homeless people there aer in Ireland? its heart breaking.

    makes me even more appreciative of everything we have.

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