Kids say the darnedest things, don't they? And while it sometimes can lead to embarrassing moments, it can also lead to some remarkably beautiful friendships.
Indeed, the anecdote recently shared by writer Tara Wood started off as a pretty awkward grocery store encounter between her daughter and a stranger, but it now has the whole Internet brushing back tears at the sweet, emotional story.
It all began when Wood took her 4-year-old daughter, Norah, shopping. As the harried mom was momentarily distracted, she suddenly overheard her daughter shouting, “Hi, old person!" to an elderly, stone-faced man standing nearby. Wood was mortified, but the man seemed to be taking it all in stride as he chatted with Norah, who told him it was her birthday and asked to have her picture taken with the man, who said his name was Dan.
"His expression rapidly morphed from confused to stunned to delighted," recalled Wood. "I pulled out my iPhone and they posed together. She placed her soft hand on top of his soft hand. He wordlessly stared at her with twinkling eyes as she kept his hand in hers and studied his skinny veins and weathered knuckles. We were blocking other shoppers and they didn’t care."
When Wood later posted about the encounter on Facebook, she was stunned when someone in the community came forward after recognizing Dan. It turns out Dan's wife, Mary, had passed away in March and he had been lonely since his beloved had gone.
"She wanted to let me know that she was certain his heart was touched by my little girl," wrote Wood, who asked for his phone number and planned to have Norah visit him a few days later.
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"We made a visit to Mr. Dan’s cozy and tidy house, reminders of Mary still proudly displayed everywhere you look," the mom wrote. "He’d set out a child’s table, blank paper, and crayons out for Norah. We ended up spending nearly three hours with Mr. Dan that day. As we walked him to his front door after lunch, he pulled out a pocket knife and cut the single red rose blooming by his porch. He spent ten minutes cutting every thorn off of the stem before handing it to his new friend. She keeps that rose, now dry as a bone, in a Ziploc bag under her pillow."
The two are now good pals.
"After another recent visit, he relayed that he hadn’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep since his wife passed away. He told me that he has slept soundly every night since meeting my girl. 'Norah has healed me,' he said."
Norah and Dan now visit each other once a week, and Wood has invited him to spend Thanksgiving with their family.
Talk about a sweet story! Reaching for the tissues, anyone?