In honor of his 75th birthday, I was inscribing to my friend Randy a copy of a book that I co-authored. I wanted to thank him for inspiring me to “greater commitment, deeper compassion, and…”—well, something about courage. Having already used “greater” and “deeper,” my mind was momentarily absent of adjectives. After a little thought, I settled on “stronger.”
I don’t write in longhand much these days, and as I’m only a decade younger than Randy, my handwriting has become less legible with age. “Stronger” came out looking on the page like “stranger.” I laughed. Randy has indeed inspired me to stranger courage—and I think the world could use a lot more of it.
I met Randy Kehler, his partner Betsy Corner, and their daughter Lillian in January 1990 in their almost-century-old clapboard home, tucked in the mountains of western Massachusetts—a home they were in danger of being evicted from at any moment. When word finally came almost two years later that federal marshals were on their way, Betsy left with 12-year-old Lillian. Randy stayed and, trying to calm his racing heart, sat down at the piano. He was hauled away in handcuffs—but only after finishing Bach/Gounod’s “Ave Maria” while the marshals waited. Continue reading