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Unsung Hero: a warm connection on a cold day

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain. "My Unsung Hero" tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Betsy Cox met her unsung hero in 2014, just a few weeks after her son Blake was born. The family didn't have a lot of money at the time, and they lived in a townhouse that could get chilly. So one cool morning, Betsy strapped Blake into his car seat and drove over to a local big box store to pick up a space heater.

BETSY COX: It was one of those first cold mornings where everything felt like a struggle, and I came in just kind of downtrodden, flustered. I was a new mom at the time and so, you know, just maybe kind of irritable. And of course, I went back to the heater section, and they were all sold out of heaters. So I was already just, you know, kind of cranky and wishing that the day was going differently.

So I made my way over to one of the cleaning aisles with the sponges and stuff. And all of a sudden, this man just came booming towards me. So he was a Southern man and had a very jolly-like presence, almost like Santa, and just kind of a larger-than-life dynamic to him. And he said, Rhonda - calling out to his wife - you've got to come see the baby. Can we come see the - can we come look at the baby? And so his accent was very endearing. And he said, he has the most big, beautiful, blue eyeballs. And I just never really heard someone say that, and it just made me chuckle and kind of immediately shifted my mood, you know?

So then we chatted a little bit, and he said at the end, God was good to you, darlin' (ph). God was real good to you. And he said it with such passion, it just about knocked me over. I can't hardly explain it. It was just this amazing moment of human connection. It was so simple, and it was so strange, too, because then, after I kind of got over being slightly awestruck from this man, I even went darting down a few aisles to get another look at them, and they were just like, poof, gone.

Then as I came out and it was a bright, sunny day and, like - I don't know - I just, like, looked up to the sky, like, who is this man? And like, he just - he made me feel so good. And you remember how people make you feel. I know he was put right there for me that day, as crazy as that might seem or sound. But I just - I can feel it. In the blink of an eye like that, he really just changed my whole outlook of that day. He impacted my life. And so I just - I want to say thank you to him. He's truly been an unsung hero to me.

KELLY: Betsy Cox of Simpsonville, S.C. To share the story of your unsung hero, you can send a voice memo to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.