• Leigh Gerstenberger

The Kindness of Strangers

Updated: Oct 30, 2019



A friend of mine remarked one day that when he and his wife got

married, they agreed that he would make all the big decisions in

their marriage and she would make all the little ones. After a brief

pause, he went on to say that after 20 years of marriage, he’s yet

to make a big decision!


I was reminded that it’s the little things that make all the difference

recently when I experienced a random act of kindness from a total

stranger that that touched my heart in a wonderful way at an

unexpected time.


The other day I found myself in our local hospital waiting for the

conclusion of a surgical procedure that my wife was undergoing.

While the surgery was successful and she is on the road to

recovery, the procedure took much longer that anyone

anticipated.


So much longer in fact that I found myself to be last person in the

waiting room that evening. By 11:00 PM all the other family

members awaiting the surgical procedures to conclude for their

loved ones had been called back to the post-op suite; and all of

the employees who staffed the waiting room and reception area

had gone home for the night.


As I sat there by myself a custodian came through the area,

tidying up the space one last time before he headed home.

Passing by me he nodded and asked if he could get me anything.

I thanked him, told him I’d be fine and that I was hopeful that my

wife’s procedure would be over soon. He wished me a good night

and said that he hoped that everything would turn out alright as

he left for the evening.


With his departure I experienced a feeling of loneliness heretofore

unfamiliar to me.


My wife had made the decision to have surgery earlier in the day

to deal with a chronic condition that had been bothering her for

some time. Once her decision was made, we assumed it would

be a day or two before her surgery would be scheduled, but we

were wrong.


Within two hours she was being wheeled into the operating room.

Now eight hours later, I found myself all alone in the surgical

reception area waiting and wondering about the outcome of the

procedure and how it would impact our lives going forward.


The days leading up to this point had been a rollercoaster of

emotions for both of us. Now, not knowing what the future held in

store for her had brought me to the brink of my feelings.


Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning around I saw John,

the custodian who had wished me a good evening a few minutes

earlier. In his outstretched arms he held a blanket and a pillow.

Handing them to me he wished me a good night once more.


While I don’t fully understand why, as he walked away,

overwhelmed by this entirely unexpected random act of kindness

an unmistakable sense of peace came over me. Once again

reminding me that it’s the little things in life that make the big

difference.

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