Naomi Richmond describes herself as a Pollyanna, which probably is why she remained optimistic through battles with four kinds of cancer over three decades.
But when thieves struck her home while she accompanied her dying husband to the hospital, it crushed her belief that people are basically good.
“It jaded me,” said Richmond, 63.
But the feeling didn’t last.
On Feb. 17, the day after the death of her husband, David, the former teacher wrote a sarcastic open letter to the thieves, which she posted on Facebook. It was later published by a Lake County newspaper.
“Thank you to whomever it was that was so thoughtful that they found it necessary to kick in my front door and rob my house when I left to follow the ambulance to the hospital when my husband David died last night,” the Feb. 17 letter begins. Richmond goes on to list some of the stolen items, many of which belonged to her late husband.
“Thank you so much for thinking of me and removing the things from my house that you knew would remind me of him,” the letter states.
“I wasn’t going to be a victim,” Richmond said, explaining the tone of her letter. “I’ve always been a smart aleck.”
Within days of writing the letter, emails, Facebook postings and phone calls began pouring in from around the world as Richmond’s words went viral.
“I just read your letter on the net and I decided to drop my condolence to you. The God lord will be with you and make you happy,” a man from Qatar wrote in an email Richmond received Wednesday. She’s also heard from people in France and New Zealand.
“I have over 300 emails,” she said. “I always knew people were good. I just had that momentary lapse,” she said.
Many people expressed sympathy and anger over the thefts. Some offered to replace stolen items, including her Kindle Fire tablet. One person offered to bake her a rhubarb pie. Others have made donations to a fund, now at about $5,000, to cover funeral costs.