Taking Charlie back home to Canada

February 11, 1955, was a bitterly cold day on the waters of Little Dark Harbor. In a crusty old dory, just off the coast of Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada, Charles H. Flagg entered the world...the newborn son of Gloria and Lawrence. His father, a forty-one year old lobsterman, and mother, a young teenager, were never married. For the first couple years of "Baby Charles'" life, they did as best they could in providing for their small family while living in a shack on the back-side of Grand Manan Island. When Charles was only 2 1/2 years old, Lawrence "stole" him from his "mum" and took him to a small community in Maine. It was there that Lawrence married Marguerite. For the next several years his life, at least from the community's perspective, was relatively normal. With the exception of a near-deadly bout with spinal menigitis (after which an immediate talent for writing poetry and song lyrics miraculously manifested itself), Charles grew up helping with household chores, attending public school, playing with his dog, "Poochie", establishing friendships with a few neighbors and attending Sunday School. It took all the courage he could muster to hide the fact that his father and step-mother were verbally and physically abusing him. Finally, at the insistence of his step-mother, young Charles was institutionalized at the age of twelve. The "hospital" would become his world for the next seven long years and it was during this time that the mistreatment he had experienced at home segued into a life of sexual abuse and further torment, perpretrated by the very staff who were assigned to protect and care for him.  Charles was released at the age of 19 and soon after began his life as a drifter. After finding and visiting his birth mother in Canada, he made his way to Nashville, imagining that he would one day become a successful gospel songwriter. "Living on the streets" for most of the past forty years in Music City, Charles periodically traveled throughout the US and Canada, living a life of solitude and loneliness.

In line with other homeless folks for lunch!

In February of next year, Charles will be 63 years old. For obvious reasons and lack of funds, he has only been able to visit his ailing mother (Charles has had his share of medical issues, too) back in Canada on three occasions the past 25 - 30 years! 

Recovering from heart surgery.

On July 18, his mother will be turning 81 years old. She is confined to a nursing home in a small town in New Brunswick and I've offered to take Charles back to see her ("one last time", as he says) on her birthday. Additonally, I've made some preliminary contact with some old neighbors and school friends who are eager to meet with us during our visit! It has been 50 years since he has seen several of these folks! We'll be flying to Boston on July 15, renting a car and driving to the Bangor, Maine, area. We'll spend several days in his old "stomping grounds" and then head across the border to visit "Mum" on her birthday. Plans also include a quick visit to Grand Manan Island, the place where he lived from birth until age 2 1/2. It has been over 40 years since he last visited this place! Ultimately we'll end up back in Boston for our flight home on July 20. Needless to say, Charles is VERY EXCITED about the prospect of doing this and was totally overwhelmed when I suggested that (1) I was willing to orchestrate this trip and (2) that I believed many of my friends would be willing to help fund this dream of his.

Enjoying lunch with some friends!

Thanksgiving dinner at Shoney's!

As quirky and eccentric as he is...he is equally as generous. I have seen him, literally, give the shirt off his back to another homeless person. I have also had the opportunity to observe him buying ice cream treats from the ice cream truck for many of the kids who live in the same apartment complex...and then eat a stale English Muffin for his own dinner.

Placing flowers at the grave of a neighbor's horse (he loves animals).

"Gracie", the wild goose, LOVES Charlie!

The total cost of the trip (flights, rental car, fuel, hotel, food and a birthday cake) will be $2877. Upon hearing about our plans, Charles offered to send a set of his poetry to anyone who is willing to donate towards this goal (if you will please send me your mailing address).  Equally as helpful is for you to share this story and request via Facebook or any other means that you may have.  Thanking you in advance for your generosity! (We hope that donations exceed our goal. Any extra will be used for future Timothy's Gift projects.)  Thank you!

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Organizer and beneficiary

Ron Miller
Nashville, TN
Ron Miller

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