Alyce Gilroy needed a miracle.
"I really felt frantic I thought: what am I going to do?"
The 93-year-old from Auburn Hills, Michigan was alone behind the wheel on I-75 earlier this month when she had car trouble.
She had given her cell phone to her two-year-old great granddaughter to play with and forgot to get it back.
"I'm here by myself and I don't know how to handle this. I just started praying," she said.
Dozens of cars passed by before her prayers were answered by an unknown African American man who showed caution before approaching her car.
"He said I'm not here to hurt you. I'm here to help you."
The encounter stuck with Gilroy long after she was rescued.
She couldn't understand why her rescuer would think that she would assume she was in danger when he had stopped to help. Later, she thought about the nationwide cases of black men being shot by police and private citizens and wondered if that's why he had been so cautious.
"I think it's so unfair. We're all created equally. There's no difference. None," Gilroy said.
Gilroy sent a letter describing the encounter to the Oakland Press. It was published on the editorial page. She hopes it reaches the Good Samaritan, whose name she can not remember.
She just wants to thank him.
"I'd give him a hug, and I'd give him a tray of cookies."
"I just want him to know how much it meant to me that he was so kind and so thoughtful," she said.
Here it the text of her letter:
Good Samaritan Saves an Elderly Lady
By Alyce Gilroy
In these times of disharmony and racial tension, here is a story of redemption.
When a 93 year old woman's car breaks down while driving on I-75 it is a frightening experience. As I was driving back from my daughter's home, I felt something tugging on the right side of the car. At first I panicked and then told myself to calm down. I took three deep breaths and pulled my car over to inspect the damage. There was a large piece of rubber that my tire was dragging. I tried to move it but it wouldn't budge. I was stuck out here on my own.
I realized that I needed help. Call 911, I thought to myself. I went for my purse to fetch my phone. After a few minutes of frantically searching, I remembered giving it to my great granddaughter. Never give your phone to a two year old. I did not get it back. Now what?
Nervously I looked out at the heavy traffic praying for help. My son said I should have waved my panties to get attention, but at my age I think that might have scared people away. After 15 minutes of waiting and thinking about my next steps, a young African American man stopped. He approached me and said, "Ma'am, my name is Axelrod ( or was it Acacia? ) and I am not here to hurt you, but I stopped to help you."
I wondered why he felt the need to explain that he wasn't here to hurt me. Of course I thought he stopped to help me. Then I remembered reading about the young black men being shot by police and the violence that happened in Dallas. Is that why he felt the need to tell me that he was here to help? I smiled at him and said, "You look like an angel dropped from heaven to me!" When I said that, he hugged me. Never have I felt more safe than in the company of this stranger. He looked at the car and diagnosed the problem. He told me that the wheel cover had come undone. He tried to remove it unsuccessfully. Then he retrieved a crowbar from his trunk and pried the cover loose.
Now that I could drive again he asked me to take car to my mechanic as soon as possible. He told me he would follow me down the road for a mile or so to make sure the car was safe. Such random acts of kindness cannot go unnoticed. If more people thought about being kind instead of correct all the time, the world would be a better place. I waved good bye and later realized that I did not get his full name nor number. I would like to find that gentleman who saved a stranded woman on the highway to thank him and offer him a tray of my much sought-after chocolate chip cookies.