Sharon Randall: The kindness of strangers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2016

Nothing gives me hope or affirms my belief in God more than the boundless human capacity to care for one another.

It’s almost noon. I’m lying in bed eating a fried-egg sandwich and writing a column. Actually, I’m writing the column in my head. I’ll type it on a computer after I finish eating and lick the mayo off my hands.

Recently I broke my foot and ended up (for a few more weeks) in a wheelchair. Since then, I’ve remastered all sorts of tasks that were once second nature, but are now a bit of a challenge: Taking a shower; getting dressed; retrieving anything whatsoever out of the fridge.

I’m still perfectly capable of frying an egg and making a sandwich. Except now it takes me about two hours. It’s quicker just to give my husband The Look. A tilt of my head in his direction. A roll of my eyes up to heaven. A soft, mournful sigh.

Maybe you know that look. It’s enough to make my husband stop what he’s doing and ask, “OK, what do you need?”

When he asked me that this morning, I said, “I need to write a column. I need to eat. I need to go back to bed.”

And that’s how I ended up in bed with my laptop and the best fried-egg sandwich of my life. It was so good, I called my sister. She was nearly speechless.

“He made you a fried-egg sandwich?”

“Yep. I’m eating it in bed.”

“Did he make it right?”

My sister and I are from the South. We have standards for fried-egg sandwiches and such. My husband is from California, but, God bless him, he tries.

“Close enough,” I said. “I’ve been teaching him. One egg, over easy, white bread, a whole lot of mayo and salt. I wish you could taste it.”

“I wish I could, too,” she said, then added: “He’s a good man.”

She likes him for more than his cooking. Years ago, she told me if I didn’t marry him, she would.

“Give him my love,” she said.

I did. I also told him about my plan for selecting his next wife, should he dare to outlive me.

My website will have a special box where applicants (assuming there are any) can post photos and qualifications. My husband will not see that information. It will be reviewed by a panel of judges to include his sister, my sister, my daughter and two daughters-in-law. Any woman who can get past those five women will be fine with me.

“Why would you put your sister on that panel?” he said. “She’ll say no to everybody!”

I grinned. “Guess you’d better take good care of me.”

If you hate feeling helpless — and who doesn’t? — it’s not easy to admit that you need help. But it’s good to be reminded that no one is invincible. We all need a little help once in a while.

Thanks to my husband, I have all the help I need. Also, my friend Linda calls to check on me and makes me laugh. She even bought a plastic cup to attach to my wheelchair as a cupholder. It’ll come in handy if I want to panhandle. Maybe I’ll add Linda to the panel of judges to pick my husband’s next wife.

Cards and calls from family and friends and FaceTime with my grandkids leave me little time and no excuse for self-pity.

Beyond all that — and even more surprising — has been an outpouring of kind words and good wishes from strangers.

Two weeks after I injured my foot, my younger brother died unexpectedly. Unable to attend his service, I wrote a column about him. And then the condolences began pouring in — emails and messages on my website or Facebook page from a wonderful “family” of readers, friends I’ve yet to meet.

I wish you could read them.

Never doubt the healing power of the kindness of strangers. Or a plastic cup from a friend. Or a fried-egg sandwich from your sister’s favorite man.

The surest cure for feeling helpless is to know that we are loved and we are not alone.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson NV 89077, or on her website: