Sometimes, friendships form in the most unlikely places. For 4-year-old Norah Wood and 82-year-old Dan Petersen, it started from a simple hello in a grocery store one afternoon. Apparently, they’ve become the best of friends ever since.
It all happened when Norah was celebrating her 4th birthday on September 28. After school, she and her mom stopped in at a grocery store near their home in Augusta, Georgia. While there, Norah spotted Petersen and said in all adorable kid fashion:
“‘Hi old person! It’s my birthday today!’”
At first, her mom felt a bit embarrassed about it, explaining:
“He wasn’t warm and fuzzy looking at all. But then, his expression softened. He asked, ‘How old are you today?’
Something in her recognized something he needed. It’s magical.”
Norah then decided she wanted to take a picture with the man, which made me light up even more. When Norah thanked him and called him, “Mr. Dan,” it brought her mom to tears, describing the moment as heartfelt:
“His little lip was quivering. He said, ‘Miss Norah, you made me the happiest I’ve been in a long time.'”
Later that night, Wood posted the photo to her Facebook page. It just so happens that someone who knows Petersen reached out to her on the site, and explained why the gesture meant so much to him, which Wood explained:
“She said when his wife died back in March, he sunk into a depression. She said, ‘That’s the first time I’ve seen that man smile since his wife died.’”
Afterwards, Wood got Petersen’s phone number and called him–and ever since, it’s been history. Over the phone, Petersen told Wood how her daughter inspired him:
“He just burst into tears. He said, ‘I haven’t stopped thinking about that little girl. She just inspired me.’”
Later that week, they met up at his house and saw his greenhouse. He apparently gave Norah crayons and paper to draw, while Wood and Petersen talked. Wood recalled the conversation:
“He had been so lonely, We covered 30 years of stuff. He was just ping-ponging around. He’s had a fascinating life. He’s had some tragedy in his life. He was just so grateful to have someone listen to him. The whole time, Norah was just curled up in his lap like she’s known him forever.”
Ever since, both mother and daughter visit Petersen often–Norah even helped him celebrate his 82nd birthday. It’s so beautiful to hear stories like this–I hope this inspires many others to reach out to those around them–even a stranger who may look like they need their day brightened.