Sometimes it’s not the first blow that knocks us down, it’s the second or the third.

We can hold it together for the initial bad news, but all too quickly comes a totally unrelated problem that causes us to come unglued. I think they call that the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Jolene Rohde has been going through a tough time. Her husband is not well. Between the medical visits, hospital bills and overall grief, she’s trying to keep life normal for their teenage son.

She needs to catch a break. Maybe that’s why she was so grateful when kindness showed up on the side of the road.

“My husband has terminal metastatic lung cancer and we have a 14-year-old son, our only child. We were headed from Bismarck, N.D., to Dickinson, N.D., to watch him in his second-ever junior high football game when we got a flat tire.

“Obviously, my husband was unable to change the tire. Thus, we attempted to contact a service provider with no success. At that point, a highway patrolman showed up and radioed another trooper. These two young men went forward and changed the tire, putting on our spare, so we could proceed to Dickinson to obtain repairs.

“When they were changing the tire, the second trooper commented to the initial trooper that being able to change a tire in five minutes used to be a test item requirement to become a trooper. He indicated that he didn’t think it was a requirement any longer, but had been when he tested three years prior.

“I mentioned that our son has aspired to be a highway patrolman since he was 3 years old. They told me about a mentoring/shadowing program he may qualify for when he is a high school senior.

“When they completed the tire change, we thanked them profusely, and at that point the initial trooper mentioned that he needed to return to Bismarck as he would be graduating from the Highway Patrol Academy that very day!

“We congratulated him along with more thanks. I asked the senior trooper to please attest that the initial trooper had adequately demonstrated the requirement for changing a tire in five minutes. Whether it was required any longer or not, we could definitely verify it!

“We continued on to Dickinson where we ended up needing to buy four new tires, but thanks to a late game start, we arrived in time to see our son play in the second half.

“Thank you for your service, troopers!”

No one can stop those devastating blows from happening. We can’t shield each other from the bad things in life, but we can show up in another person’s time of need and be the kindness that carries them through.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.