Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Conversation With AJ

Last night we met AJ.  He was sitting on a bench in the Prudential Center in Boston with his shopping cart next to him, mostly full of empty plastic bags.  We approached him and asked how he was doing?  He replied in a soft and slight Jamaican accent, and with a smile that would melt your heart, "Well, I suppose I have been better, but all in all.........okay."  We found out that AJ used to be a civil engineer on the "Big Dig" (An infamous construction project in Boston).  He was making a good living until an accident took his sight.  What happened in between, we will never know.  But, there he was on a bench, in the dead of winter, with a cart full of plastic bags.  I had so many questions for AJ, but ultimately left with most unanswered.  I wanted to know where "his people" were?  Where were his friends, his family, his former neighbors, and co-workers?  When I asked him if he had any friends in the area he said, "No, they are gone now."  What does that mean?  Where did they "go?"  I asked if he had a place to stay.  He said that a man takes him in at night and reads him the bible.  He talked about books and film, obviously educated and well-spoken - I could have talked with him all night.  We handed him one of Abby's homemade blankets, (She wanted him to have the one with the horses on it.) a copy of my book, some cash, and a wish for better days ahead.  A piece of my heart stayed there with him on that bench as we walked away, with our full bellies and shopping bags in hand.  How did his community let him fall through the cracks?  He is someone's son, someone's brother, someone's friend.  We left with absolute certainty about a few things; we are blessed, we will never let that happen to anyone we know, and we are better people for having had a conversation with AJ.

For More Information About The "Soul to Soul" Project, Please Visit; And Click On The Link "Soul to Soul."  Thank You

Thank you, thank you, thank you

It was a bitter cold night in Boston.  The wind felt like a knife cutting away at any unprotected skin.  We were driving around, surrounded by the beautiful Chirstmas lights and decorations, looking for homeless people to give our handmade blankets to.  We were having trouble finding anyone and took delight in this actually, hoping that everyone was off the streets on this awful night and inside warm and safe.  All of a sudden Mark pulled to the curb and pointed saying, "There."  Abby and I got out of the car, I stood back as she approached an older Asian gentleman sitting on the cold concrete; his head was bent down, not doubt to protect his face from the wind.  She stood in front of him and he lifted his tired eyes to hers as she said, "Merry Christmas."  For a moment, there was hope, he smiled a very broad toothless smile and said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."  We piled back into the car and I looked in the rear view mirror at Abby, she was also smiling.  She had the smile of someone who had made a difference in the life of someone else.  Merry Christmas everyone, the gift we receive in giving, is far greater than any we will find under the tree.

For information on the "Soul to Soul" project, please go to and click on the link.  Thank you.