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On a day when everything felt like a struggle, kind words brightened this mom's mood

Betsy Cox with her husband, Steve, and their son, Blake.
Betsy Cox
Betsy Cox with her husband, Steve, and their son, Blake.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, from the Hidden Brain team, about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.


In 2014, Betsy Cox and her husband, Steve, welcomed their baby boy, Blake, into the world. The couple was thrilled, but also feeling the stress of having a newborn. Money was tight, and Steve had to work a lot.

One day, Cox noticed that there was a cold draft in Blake's room. So she decided to strap him into his car seat and drive to a local big-box store to buy a space heater.

"It was one of those first cold mornings where it hits you, you know? One of those mornings where everything felt like a struggle," Cox said.

When she arrived at the store, she discovered that they had sold out of heaters. This only exacerbated her bad mood. But then, all of a sudden, a man rushed toward them.

"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," Cox said.

The man smiled as he approached and called to his wife.

"He said, 'Rhonda, you've got to come see the baby! Can we come look at the baby?'" Cox recalled.

Then, in a thick Southern accent that Cox found endearing, the man looked at Blake and exclaimed "He has the most big beautiful blue eyeballs!"

"I had just never really heard someone say that. And it just made me chuckle and just kind of immediately shifted my mood," Cox said.

After chatting for a little while, the man and his wife said their goodbyes. Before leaving, he looked at Cox and said "God was good to you, darlin'. God was real good to you."

"It just about knocked me over. I can't hardly explain it," Cox remembers. "It was just this amazing moment of human connection. It was so simple."

When Cox and Blake left the store, the sun was out. Cox recalls looking up at the sky and thinking about the encounter she'd just had.

"He made me feel so good. And just in the blink of an eye, he changed my whole outlook of that day. He impacted my life."

It's been eight years since Cox met that man in the store, but she still thinks of him often.

"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. He impacted my life. And so I want to say thank you to him. He's truly been an unsung hero to me."

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday and Thursday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Kristin Wong
Autumn Barnes