Unexpected kindness is often the most meaningful. That's what draws me to this story about Max Evans, a homeless man who lived between two jersey barriers near the New England Aquarium.
"He had very long fingernails, a big bushy beard, and hygiene was not his strong point," says Cheryl Kane, the director of nursing at the Barbara McInnis House at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. "He was very feisty, and there’d be times when we would go to see Max, and he was like a bear with a sore head, and he’d just yell and tell us to go away."
Cheryl approached Max with a gift - a bright yellow coat - and initially, she says, he did not welcome the gesture.
"When I gave it to him, he said, 'Oh my gosh! Where did you get this? Everyone’s gonna see me!' I told him it was my husband’s, and he said, 'Oh, he didn’t want it anymore?'"
Despite the rocky start, it's Max's thoughtful response that has stuck with her. She remembers,
"I said, 'No. Actually my husband died, and he would be really happy for you to have this jacket.' And Max said to me, 'Oh, Honey. I’m so sorry. Go in that Dunkin Donut[s], buy yourself a cup of coffee, put it on my tab, and come out and tell me all about your husband.'