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Debra Smith


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Could you tell me about a small kindness from a stranger that made a real difference to you (in whatever way)?

If I look back at my life, the sweet small kindnesses of strangers are pivotal and really combine to help shape my world view - and they probably have no idea.


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    Aug 3 2012: I was alone in a hospital room in Toronto many years ago when the surgeon who had saved my life that day came in and sat on my bed. The surgery had been so extensive that they did not accomplish all that they had hoped to do and they had left a mass in my abdomen. She told me she got all of the first cancer but that I had ovarian cancer – thank goodness she was wrong but neither of us knew it then.
    I was devastated and she then left. I was in trouble emotionally so I picked up the phone in the hope of speaking to my then husband. No go. I tried again with my cell phone and for some reason I was not allowed to call cell to cell with someone in transit between Toronto and Niagara (maybe it had something to do with cellphone plans)- I do not remember but I was told it was not possible. I hung up that phone and that aching need and loneliness threatened to eat me alive so I picked up the phone again and dialed an operator. I got a young man. I told him where I was and what I needed in my calmest possible voice. He simply put me through.
    I never knew his name. I never said more than a polite thank you. He heard me and he helped me. He could not possibly have been rewarded for one of the greatest kindnesses of my life. He helped me on my way.
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      Aug 3 2012: That is very touching Debra. He must have heard the desperate need in your voice. It makes you wonder about the windows these operators get into people's lives. A view seconds of stress, happiness, desperation, elation.
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        Aug 3 2012: Henk, as you were first to respond I feel a special bond and I want to thank you. Did you notice that not one of these kindnesses failed to change their recipient? What else in our lives has such power?. I loved the fact that you helped that lady, and I try to do the same wherever I can. It is NOT a debt but it is an endless source of joy.
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          Aug 3 2012: That's right Debra, it touches us deeply. Do you remember Groundhog Day (the movie) where the main character begins to use his knowledge of the day to help people with little gestures here and there and only then is able to move on with his life. These touches give me hope for humanity as a whole. If people are capable of small selfless acts, then there is hope for all of us.
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        Aug 3 2012: I promise you that this is true that is my favourite movie, Henk. I also love the version of A Christmas Carole with George C. Scott as Scrooge. Somehow to me they tell a profoundly similar story. Thanks.
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        Aug 3 2012: Thank you Don, I think it would be great if you were able to tell the story on the front page of your webiste here for the convenience of this audience. I am delighted that in extremis you found someone who was kind enough to help you especially in a Canadian winter. It sounds like a big kindness to me!
        • Aug 4 2012: Hello Debra,
          I know Don and the extreme elder abuse he is experiencing. The Kindness he received was amazing. The only kindness that compares is Don's kindness.

          You Debra, appear to radiate kindness. Your suffering has also been unbearable..
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        Aug 4 2012: Eberhard, you have no reply button so I hope you find this note. Sweet person, thank you but as you see the human spirit is amazing and I find that it is actually bearable and we can each commit to never passing it along. That- for me- is the victory in it! Pass along the kindness instead.

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