“The Kindness of Strangers and Others,” Aug. 9, 2016

Nothing fills me with 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. But 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.


  1. Greg Adams says

    I realize life has been knocking at your door really hard lately and I am so sorry for the loss of your brother and your broken foot but I am going to have to call you out on the fried egg sandwich.
    There is only one way to make a proper fried egg sandwich.
    1. turn your burner on high
    2. pour the oil into the skillet and right before it gets smoking hot you drop your egg in
    3. in one swift move you break the yoke grab the pepper and make that egg look like a ripe peach covered with gnats
    4. leave over the heat until the egg starts turning crispy, then remove the skillet from the heat, flip the egg over and pepper leaving egg sitting in the skillet while you prepare the bread
    5. take two slices of bread and butter each piece. place egg on one slice, top egg with ketchup then place the top slice of bread on top of the egg
    6. this is important let the sandwich sit long enough for the hot egg to melt the butter and for the bread to adsorb all of the melted butter so when you pick it up your fingers are covered with butter
    That is how you make a proper fried egg sandwich. (I told my wife I was going to comment on your column and she said that I should leave you alone because you have been through so much lately but every since I read your column in the paper and you wrote -a proper fried egg sandwich- it has haunted me. Now tonight I will be able to sleep knowing I helped set you on the right path of the fried egg sandwich.)

  2. It is late at night ,my eyes did not blink reading your post and I kept thinking how you got injured. Today I met a woman, she was walking with injured foot and a big boot on . she was telling me , she was walking and texting on cell when her foot got hurt and it broke a bone. Her husband said they are walking and telling everybody not to use cell when walking. I told her get well soon and thought about you and about new post . today , Wish I could make some thing special and deliver if you liked Indian food. For now I am praying for your recovery sooner. God bless your husband who would take care of you some more days ,this too would pass !love you as always !

  3. Linda Kantowski says

    Hi, this is your friend, Linda. Funny, I didn’t know you had a panel of judges planned for your Mr.’s NEXT wife. But what YOU don’t know is I TOO suggested to my Mr.who I think would be a pretty-good Mrs. pinch-hitter, should I be taken out of the Game. He told me.. forget about it..as I would always be his only MVP..aaahhh

  4. So sorry to hear you have experienced another loss in your family. Praying your heart will heal too, while you’re nursing that foot. Also, keep counting your blessings — it helps during recovery.

    My late husband loved fried egg sandwiches, except he would put ketchup on his. 🙂

  5. Christine T says

    I broke my arm in the parking lot of the motel…few more minutes and we would have been on the way to a ship, taking a cruise. Instead the paramedics delivered me to Tampa General. Intense treatment in the ER, no dice. On to an operating room, putting me back together again with plates and screws.
    Long, long ride home from Tampa to NC.
    And yes, having only one arm and depending on others for everything in your life…it teaches you to ask nicely. Strangely they don’t cooperate so well when you bark. And you do feel like barking, a lot.

  6. Vicki hamrick says

    I love an egg sandwich for bepreakfast too, but has to be Dukes and lightly toasted white bread! Did I miss a year? Is it 2017 already? LOL! Always love your column! You can take the girl out of Landrum but you can’t take Landrum out of the girl!

  7. I guess Indiana isn’t far enough south! We put good ole yellow mustard on our over well fried egg sandwiches. But I just may have to try the mayo!

    Quite a few years ago my hubby fell 12 feet, crushed his heel & dislocated his shoulder. For a while all our family meals were carried upstairs to his bedroom so he didn’t have to eat alone. Those long weeks/months were a struggle …but we made it! Hope you are back to full speed soon!

  8. Get well soon and enjoy your husband’s loving gestures.

  9. I have read your columns for years and I always look forward to them. I am so sorry that your brother passed and I hope you recover fast from your foot injury.

  10. Sheila Torres says

    I must have missed the column about your Brother. My sympathies go out to your family. So sorry that your laid up with a broken foot! It’s a good time to reflect on what’s important and you’ve got it together! Family, friends and the panel you put together are all in good order. How could they not love you – you bring so much to your readers’ lives, I can only imagine how those around you feel! Keep spreading your love ❤️

  11. Debra Capell says

    I love you!!!

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