Kids can often get their parents into trouble. Thanks to their innocence, they sometimes say the most awkward things. So, when one little girl called a lonely widower “old” in public, her mom was mortified. His reaction, however, astounded her.
Tara Wood and her husband Garrett live in Augusta, Georgia. Tara works as a freelance writer and stays at home to look after the couple’s children. Together, they have seven kids – five daughters and two sons.
As a writer, Tara often shared stories about her family with readers. And like many proud parents, she also posted about her loved ones on social media. Many of her tales, in fact, featured her second-youngest girl Norah.
As with many toddlers, Norah often went to her mom with questions as she tried to work out the world around her. Many a time, Tara shared these touching encounters between mother and daughter with her followers, and they usually portrayed Norah’s childhood innocence.
One such incident occurred shortly before Norah’s fourth birthday in September 2016. As usual, Tara had picked her little girl up from preschool. In the car, Norah asked her mom to watch out for an elderly person who was crossing in front of them.
“She went on to explain that she has a soft spot for mature folks,” Tara wrote in a Today Parenting blog post in October 2016. “I like old peoples the best ’cos they walk slow like I walk slow and they has soft skin like I has soft skin. They all gonna die soon so I’m gonna love ’em all up before they is died,” Norah had said.
“Sure, it got kinda weird and dark at the end there, but I liked where her heart was,” Tara explained of her daughter’s statement. The busy mom then put the sweet conversation to the back of her mind. It seemed, though, that she hadn’t realized how strong Norah’s affection for older people really was.
The next day – Norah’s birthday – the mom and daughter stopped by a local grocery store. Since it was her special day, the little girl wanted some cupcakes to share with her siblings. But what should have been a nondescript trip to the store turned out to be a life-changing experience.
Tara was perusing the aisles while Norah sat in a cart with her younger sister Marigold. The mom wasn’t really taking much notice of her daughters as she examined the shelves. Then, suddenly, she heard Norah exclaim, “Hi, old person! It’s my birfday today!”
As Tara turned around, she saw an elderly gentleman who seemed unamused by her daughter’s proclamation. The mortified mom later admitted she wanted “the Earth to swallow [her] whole.” However, just then, the man’s frowning face softened.
The man turned to Norah and replied, “Well, hello, little lady! And how old are you today?” Announcing the cute encounter on Facebook in 2016, Tara wrote, “They chatted for a few seconds, and it was super adorable.”
The group said their goodbyes, but minutes later Norah asked if she could get a birthday photo with the man. “It was the cutest thing ever and, although I wasn’t sure if he’d oblige, I told her we’d certainly ask,” Tara explained in her Today Parenting post.
“We found the man a couple of aisles over and I approached him,” she continued. She then asked him if he would mind posing for photo with Norah. “His expression rapidly morphed from confused to stunned to delighted,” Tara said.
The gentleman, who they discovered was named Dan, happily agreed to Norah’s request. “After a few minutes, I thanked Mr. Dan for taking the time to spend a bit of his day with us,” Tara revealed to Today Parenting. “He teared up and said, ‘No, thank YOU. This has been the best day I’ve had in a long time. You’ve made me so happy, Miss Norah.’”
Tara was so moved by the special encounter that she decided to write about it on her Facebook page. The post has since been liked more than 10,000 times and shared a further 1,300. Furthermore, one of the many people to read about Norah and Mr. Dan’s meeting recognized him.
The stranger explained to Tara that Mr. Dan’s wife Mary had passed away six months earlier and that he’d felt very lonely since her death. In fact, they said they hadn’t seen him smile since. That was, until he had met Norah.
Perhaps with that tale in mind, Tara decided to reach out to Mr. Dan. So, alongside Norah, she paid him a visit to his home. “We ended up spending nearly three hours with Mr. Dan that day,” Tara wrote for Today Parenting. “He was patient and kind with my talkative, constantly moving girl. He wiped ketchup off of her cheek and let her finish his chicken nuggets.”
Since that chance meeting at the grocery store, in fact, Norah has paid Mr. Dan a visit every single week. The Wood family even invited their new friend to spend Thanksgiving with them. And, needless to say, Mr. Dan is eternally grateful for the love he has been shown.
Speaking of their chance meeting in 2016, Mr. Dan told CNN, “That day, I was going through a day of self-pity. I was just feeling sorry for myself. But she changed it. She has shown me a depth of love, a depth I didn’t know existed.”
And for Tara, the experience has been magical. “78 years separate these two people in age. Somehow, their hearts and souls seem to recognize each other from long ago,” she wrote. “Sometimes talking to strangers can lead to beautiful new beginnings. Give it a try.”