More to Marilyn’s story

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I feel the need to comment on the media response to the recent death of Marilyn Hiscock (Trixie).
Within hours of her passing, there were stories on CBC, The Telegram and on social media. The running theme was lamenting the loss of this iconic colourful downtown character with her outlandish clothing and personality.

Let me provide a perspective that I believe has been missed in this torrent of very public regret.

Marilyn was not alone. I can assure you that the city, and downtown in particular, has no shortage of colorful iconic characters.

They fill the rooming houses and substandard apartments in anonymous buildings you would never take note of as you drive by.

If they all dressed as Marilyn did, you would be shocked at their number.

But the fact is that most just blend in trying not to be noticed.

They are the forgotten people who survive hand to mouth on food hampers and medical care insufficient to their needs.

There are organizations who work hard in the daily struggle to fill the gaps. They are lauded and commended and should be. But they can’t do enough.

I live downtown.

In fact, I live quite close to where Marilyn lived.

The first time I came across her was not long after I moved into the neighbourhood, walking my daughter to her kindergarten class. Loving everybody in the world as only a small girl can, she said “Hi” to this interesting person as they passed on the sidewalk.

In return, she received a blistering stream of invective, abuse, vulgarity and profanities. My daughter ran back to me and I carried her the rest of the way with her trembling in my arms bewildered at what had happened. She was too young to understand.

In the months and years since, I saw Trixie many times in the neighbourhood.

Sometimes she was lucid but most other times it seems she was lost in a nasty and hostile world of her own.

It was clear to me, and anyone around, that this was a lady tormented by demons beyond her control.

I can’t tell you what kind of medical assistance she was receiving. But I can say with absolute certainty that she was not receiving

the medical assistance that she deserved.

So when the media decides to take notice of the passing of such a “colourful iconic character” in such a superficial way, they trivialize her daily struggle just to be part of the same world as the rest of us.

If you want to consider Marilyn an icon, then she should be considered iconic of the failure of our social welfare net. My daughter was too young at the time to understand how some people face complex issues. 

But we can understand and we need to do better for the “Trixies” of the city.

Simon Lono

St. John’s

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