Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kindness of a Stranger

They say I must be one of the wonders of God's own creation. And as far as they can see they can offer no explanation.
-Natalie Merchant, "Wonder"

We received our first donation this morning for our Little Free Library. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Little Free Library is an idea that came from a Winsconsin man who wanted to honor his mother, who was a teacher, when she died. The wooden box in our front yard encourages neighbors to take a book and leave a book.  Simple and engaging.  My friend predicted that our box would generate some interesting stories. She was right.
Our first book donor was not a neighbor or a friend, but a stranger that I see twice a week at the gym. I am only there twice a week. She is there everyday. She is the woman who always has her make up on and hair done. She is always friendly and smiling. And she is always there at 5:30 am.  Did I mention she is thin? Not just thin. Fit. Strong. I have admired her since I started going in May. As someone who has struggled with my weight my whole life, I look at women like her with a mix of envy and awe. 

I recognized her picture in the paper  this weekend. It was a story about her book club. She had invited R.J. Palacio, the author of the NY Times Bestseller Wonder, in from New York to meet the club here in Florida. The newspaper article said the book is an inspiration to this woman from the gym. Turns out this stranger, who has served as a quiet inspiration to me, has stage four colon cancer. 

“There is no stage five and There’s no cure.” Lori Crotts told me today during the first real conversation we've ever had. Diagnosed in March, the mother of three has tried everything, including experimental treatments. She is sticking around as long as she can. Her youngest is 15. 

Wonder, the source of courage for Crotts, is about a boy with a facial deformity who faces huge obstacles in life with grace and humor. She said she read it in one day, shortly before her diagnosis. I can’t wait to read it. But this post is not about the book as much about the person who gave it to me. I frequently complain about not having enough time. The gym is usually the first thing to go when I am feeling swamped. How can I use that as an excuse when there are people like Lori there?  How can I complain about anything? How can I feel like I don't have enough time  for everything? I have close relatives and friends dealing with cancer. But there is something about this stranger that struck me differently. Something about her demeanor that made me want to cherish today even more.  

Do you know that right after she left the gym, Lori Crotts found the time to bring a copy of Wonder to my house with a little note? It said she loves the book because it is about kindness. 

Have you ever learned something from a stranger?


  1. Thank you for having the courage to approach Lori. Far too often, we miss opportunities to make a difference because we are too busy or are fearful of the reaction we may get from a stranger. As a result of your boldness, I am quite sure Lori was empowered and you and now us are touched.

    A very nice story.

    1. Thank you for reading and your feedback.. I am truly touched to have met her.

  2. You really captured Lori's spirit in your description of her. Thank you for sharing this story. She inspired so many, including me, and she left this world way too soon.


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