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To an angel in Marshalltown

August 12, 2012
Tom Rogge, Eau Claire, Wis. , Times-Republican

RAGBRAI came to town on July 25. Do you remember how hot it was? About 65 miles from Webster City, struggling up a steep hill against a headwind, I took a look at my thermometer: 111 degrees, and still 12 miles to go to Marshalltown!

I can't tell you how hot and tired I was as I biked through your neighborhood. Was I on Linwood Ave maybe near Fourth Avenue? I have a vague recollection of you and another young girl on the opposite corner of that intersection, when I suddenly got a flat tire. I pulled over, and in very slow motion got out my tools and began changing the tube. I must have stopped every 30 seconds to either wipe the sweat from my eyes, or take a drink of that 111-degree water in my bottle.

I know you were over there watching me, but at some point I seem to recall not seeing you there any more. I was struggling with the heat and the tire, though, and it didn't matter much.

Finally done, I pumped in some air, took another swig of hot water, and was about to drag myself back onto the bike when suddenly, there you were, about five feet away. You had gone home, gotten your very own red Wesley Woods water bottle, and filled it up with fresh, cool water for me. And you just hung it in on my handle bar and walked away without a word. Wow.

Who taught you such compassion and to act on it? Your parents most likely. They must be very proud of you, and you should be proud of them too.

You're what 9 years old? You were wearing a white top with long fringes all around the bottom. I'm the old guy white hair.

Do you mind if I keep the water bottle? It reminds me to pay attention to people, and to be kind. And it reminds me of you. Thank you.



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