(Photo: Megan Wolfe, taken on August 15, 2012)
Diego sat at the table next to me, and introduced himself by giving me a poem. Spending most of his nights alone in his North Beach apartment, he had ventured into the cafe for dinner. Sharing his poetry was a great excuse to connect with new people.
He wrote this one in particular to express the love he felt for his wife, and the lingering sorrow of her passing. They were married for 36 years. I was surprised when he told me he had married late, at age 40. He told me he had immigrated to the US at 17 from Italy, so most of his twenties were spent acquiring citizenship. His thirties were then dedicated to helping his family back home, financially. His wife, whom he met in the city, was an American.
The poem is as follows:
Reflection, by Diego DeLeo
From day one I needed someone
The same for everyone:
The need extends throughout our lives
to fill the void, I with loving wife
completed that which itself is depleted
When loved ones leave us early
the love we lose can cost us dearly
To help, love each other was our goal
Her sweet image remains in my soul
Time of youth too brief
seems too long when we grieve
Our ancestors stars do not care
how we deal with our affairs
Looking at the sky to soothe our hurt
The sky embracing earth
I'm optimistic for my tomorrow
To ward away unwanted sorrow
I take my dream to bed tonight
Inside I find the brightest light:
Though the world gets small and dark
I'm with my love at Stony Park
I think about Diego whenever I see articles about the latest round of evictions in San Francisco. He's one of several people I worry about - including the dozen or so elderly that lived in the building I oversaw as a property manager downtown. I never know if things are ok with them, and sometimes, I hesitate to ask if anyone knows. Frankly, I'm afraid of the answer.
I just happened to see this article on Facebook today about Diego, and how there was an attempt to evict him out of his North Beach apartment last year using the Ellis Act. The article, published by Beyond Chron, states:
And, the good news..
I'm so happy to see that Diego won the fight for his home. I hope his story inspires more San Francisco residents to stand up for themselves.
Read the full article about Diego DeLeo on Beyond Chron.