Tara Wood is a 40-something stay-at-home mother of seven who writes whenever she has time. Her motto is “stuff happens and I tell you about it”. By her own admission, her seven children are ‘delightfully cheeky’ and love saying unusual things at home and in public. This is a story about when Tara’s 4-year-old daughter Norah met 82-year-old Mr. Dan and how they became best friends.
It all started when Norah confided in her mother how much she loved the elderly:
“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,” little Norah explained.
It wasn’t until a later visit to the supermarket that Norah got a chance to channel her love.
“While I was distracted, picking up and then dismissing the bottles of almost expired Ranch dressing and cans of Ensure, Norah was busy standing up in the cart, excitedly waving and gleefully proclaiming, ‘Hi old person! It’s my birfday today!'”
The stone-faced expression of the furrow-browed man softened as he replied, “Well hello little lady! And how old are you today?”
After a short chat and some ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes, they went they separate ways. Norah had other ideas though and she asked, “Can I take a picture with the old man for my birfday?” Tara found the man a few aisles away and told him of her daughter’s wish.
His expression quickly went from confused to stunned to delighted. Tara pulled out her iPhone and the models posed together. Some kind of unique bond being established and everyone could feel it, as other shoppers didn’t mind the holdup between the aisles. The photo shooting ended with Norah kissing the man’s hand as he placed a kiss on her cheek. He told them he was called Dan.
“After a few minutes, I thanked Mr. Dan for taking the time to spend a bit of his day with us. 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 thought her readers might want to know about this unique story so she posted it on her Facebook page. Later that night, she received a message from someone who knew Mr. Dan. It turned out his wife, Mary, had passed away that year and he had been lonely since. The person wanted to let Tara know how much that day’s events meant to Mr. Dan and how touched he was.
The writer asked for his phone number and called him up.
A few days later Tara and Norah were on their way to Mr. Dan’s house. It was cozy and tidy and he had gotten a haircut, a shave, and he was dressed for the occasion. “He looked ten years younger. He’d set out a child’s table, blank paper, and crayons out for Norah. He asked if she’d draw some pictures for him to display on his refrigerator. She happily agreed and went right to work,” Tara recounted.
They ended up spending three hours together that day. Mr. Dan was very kind and patient with the talkative, hyperactive Norah.
The gentleman “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.”
Norah keeps the rose and asks about Mr. Dan every day. She worries about him and wants him to feel loved and cared about. Mr. Dan thinks about Norah, too. After another recent visit, he relayed that he hadn’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep since his wife died. He told me that he has slept soundly every night since meeting my girl. “Norah has healed me,” he said.
Seventy-eight years separate these two people in age. Somehow, their hearts and souls seem to recognize each other from long ago.
The mother and daughter made a promise to see Mr. Dan every week – even if it’s only for a quick hug and a cheese danish drop-off. Mr. Dan loves Danish pastry!
And the 82-year-old gentleman spent Thanksgiving with the Woods as he is considered part of their family now. As Norah put it, “we’re gonna love him all up.”
And when Tara was asked about one piece of advice she would give to people based on this experience she said, “Sometimes talking to strangers can lead to beautiful new beginnings. Give it a try.”