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December 18 , 2008

The Kindest People: Heroes and Good Samaritans (Volume 4)


This book contains 250 stories about heroes and Good Samaritans. For example: In early 2012, 55-year-old Shelagh Gordon died of a brain aneurysm. Her obituary appeared in "The Star," a Canadian newspaper in Toronto, on Valentine’s Day. "The Star" devoted much coverage to her funeral and to documenting her life simply because "Star" employees wanted to tell the story of an “ordinary” life and how it touched other lives. It turned out that the so-called ordinary life was magical in many ways. Shelagh died without ever being married and without ever having children. Her life partner was a gay man who would read in bed beside her—they wore matching reading glasses. The gay man whom Shelagh called her soulmate is costume designer Andy Schulz, who said at her funeral, “This is such a shock and a tragedy. I don’t know how anybody or anything is going to fill this void that I have.” Their families regarded them as a married couple, but without the sex. Shelagh was known for her clumsiness and for her mishaps. She once needed to get her photo retaken for her work ID. She was wearing pants with an elastic band, and she was standing against a wall. A nail snagged her pants and broke the elastic band, with the result that her pants ended up around her knees. Workmate Wendy Campbell remembered, “She was crying, she was laughing so hard. We had to retake that photo 12 times.” Shelagh was known for breaking glasses, including wine glasses. Ellen Kaju, best friends with Shelagh since Grade 9, even bought a set of plastic wine glasses just for Shelagh to use. According to members of her family, if you heard something break at a party, you knew that Shelagh had arrived. Shelagh was also known for her thoughtfulness. "Star" reporter Catherine Porter wrote about her, “A bag of chocolates hanging from your doorknob would greet you each Valentine’s Day, along with some clippings from the newspaper she thought you’d find interesting.” Here are two stories about Shelagh’s goodness: 1) When her niece Jessica got engaged, Shelagh found out the kind of candle holders she wanted at her wedding. Shelagh went to five different stores scattered across Toronto buying 75 of those candle holders so that each table could have one. At Jessica’s wedding, which was held a few weeks after Shelagh died, Jessica vowed, “In honour of Shelagh, I promise to love you fiercely.” 2) The Gordon women annually took a trip together down south. During one vacation, Shelagh’s youngest sister, Susie, said that the location was paradise, but it had one small flaw: it would be so much better to have their tea on the balcony instead of going to a restaurant. The next morning when Susie woke up, Shelagh gave her some freshly brewed tea.

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