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When I worked on TV, my husband always said I considered it a job well done if I could make people at home laugh while I was delivering the news.
Now that I write for the paper, he is accusing me of trying to make people cry.
The other day, Aug. 24 to be exact, I wrote a story about the time we had to put down our beloved Robby Dog. It tied in with a letter I got from Amanda Thornton about how a stranger at the veterinary clinic paid for her cat’s passing. Amanda was hoping to say “thank you” to the person who so deeply touched her heart.
Part of my family’s Saturday morning tradition (other than going to the grocery store for donuts) is to read my column.
Well, there I was, sitting on the couch with all of “Team Phillips,” reading about Robby Dog and Amanda’s cat. I had written the column, so I thought I was immune to what was in it, but when my daughter’s eyes started welling up with tears, I lost it.
I managed to finish reading, but I’m not sure anyone could understand what I was saying through all my blubbering. My sweet husband smiled as he looked at my daughter and me and told me I at least know I made two people cry.
I got some beautiful emails after that story from readers who also had lost their pets and knew all too well the sentiments I was expressing. Then I got an email from the woman I had hoped my message would reach:
“Thank you, Nicole, for posting Amanda Thornton’s request to say thank you to a stranger.
“On June 1, I was waiting with my dog in one of the patient rooms at the FM Animal Hospital when I heard a couple come in with their pet. I could hear bits of conversations, and the tone of their voices with the emotional breaks of silence led me quickly to understand what was happening.
“I stayed quiet and held my dog more tightly. I thought of my previous pets and the emotions in their losses. A voice inside me was saying ‘somebody should do something to help them,’ and then I felt a tug in my heart … it whispered ‘I am somebody’ and ‘I can help.’
“I waited for the assistant to come back to the room I was in and explained what I wanted to do. Her response was a gift in itself. My hand was shaking when I wrote the check, and I asked that the cash be returned to the family.
“It didn’t matter if the family would ever know about me, or if they had money or not. I knew at that moment in time that I could try and make a difference in their lives, and maybe, one day, they would reach out to another person to help.
“I have shared that day with my family and friends and explained it as a life-changing moment. Please let Amanda and her family know that I read your article and her thank you. I was moved to help and blessed to have been there at the same time.
“Keep writing, Nicole, one person at a time, we can all make a difference!” – Cheryl
A long time ago I wrote a story called “Gold Bikini Girl.” This reminds me so much of that story.
While on the surface, I was the one doing the act of kindness by giving a young woman some money, I am truly the one who received from that encounter. You are right, Cheryl, when you follow that little voice inside your heart, an act of kindness can be a life changing experience.
Nicole J Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.