AUGUSTA, Ga. (KTVU) - A four-year-old girl may be teaching some of us a lesson about how a simple act of kindness can make a world of difference in another person's life.
Tara Wood has penned a touching story about her daughter, Norah, and how she met her new best friend, an 82-year-old man the preschooler affectionately calls Mr. Dan.
Wood, a writer and mother of seven from Augusta, Georgia, explains she went to the grocery store to buy cupcakes for Norah's fourth birthday, when she looked over at the birthday girl who "was busy standing up in the cart, excitedly waving and gleefully proclaiming, 'Hi old person! It's my birfday today!'"
Wood says her daughter was waving to "an elderly, stone-faced, and furrow-browed" man. And before she could correct the child for calling him "old person," the man responded by saying, "Well hello little lady! And how old are you today?"
The mother says her child and the man, who introduced himself as Dan, chatted for a while and the two even ended up taking a picture together before leaving the store.
As they posed for the photo, Wood described the moment, saying the man "wordlessly stared at her [daughter] with twinkling eyes as she kept his hand in hers and studied his skinny veins and weathered knuckles. She kissed the top of his hand and then placed it on her cheek. He beamed."
She says she later received a message from someone who had read her post and recognized Mr. Dan.
Wood learned that the man had recently lost his wife and was told that Norah's kindness likely meant a great deal to him, as he had been struggling and very lonely since his wife's passing.
Wood asked for his phone number and says she reached out to him a few days later and made plans for a visit, which has since become the first in a series of meet-ups.
That first visit, Norah and her mother went over to Dan's "tidy" house, which was filled with memories of his late wife.
And in preparation for his guests "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."
Of course, his new pint-sized friend cheerfully obliged and quickly got to work.
Wood says her daughter now asks about Mr. Dan every day, worries if he's lonely or cold, and says, "She wants him to feel loved."
The mother also says it is apparent that Norah's presence in Dan's life has made a huge difference.
Wood describes that after a recent visit, Mr. Dan confided that sleeping through the night has been a challenge since his wife's passing, but said that since he's met Norah, he has been able to sleep soundly.
"'Norah has healed me,' he said."
Woods says Mr. Dan has become a part of the family, and they even plan to spend Thanksgiving together.
She writes, "just like Norah said, 'we're gonna love him all up.'"
And the mother offers some advice, after watching her daughter bring some joy into their new friend's life: "Sometimes talking to strangers can lead to beautiful new beginnings. Give it a try."