Today I took Xavier to the Philadelphia Zoo. For those of you that may not know, it’s not in the best part of town. As we walked from our car to the front gate, which happens to feel like a 25 mile hike in the blazing summer sun, we spotted a homeless man and his dog up ahead about 20 feet, sitting on the sidewalk holding a cardboard sign that read “HUNGRY, PLEASE HELP.”
I observed as Xavier’s eyes narrowed in on the man and wondered what he must be thinking. Right at that moment he looked up at me with his beautiful light hazel eyes and said, “Mama, man looks hungry”, with a very solemn face. I bent down and said, “You’re right, he does look hungry and thirsty too.” I didn’t want to say too much or dictate the situation, so I remained quiet to allow him to process. We then walked a little closer. He stopped again, put out his hand and asked me to open his backpack. As I opened it, he grabbed the picnic that we had packed and said, “Give Xavier’s picnic to man, pwease?”
I fought hard to hide the streaming tears behind my sunglasses as we approached the man while Xavier handed him a banana, baked plantains, a peach, some cookies and a bottle of cold water. Xavier then put his hand on the man’s shoulder for a brief but powerful moment. Then we went on our way into to the zoo, but that precious moment will forever hold a warm place in my heart.