No birthday present is better than making a new friend, as 4-year-old Norah found out firsthand. Last month, Norah and her mother, Tara Wood, were shopping for birthday cupcakes at a grocery store when an older gentleman with a furrowed brow walked by. “We’d passed several other elderly customers but [Norah] seemed magnetically drawn to this man,” Wood wrote on a Facebook post about her daughter’s interaction. “Her face lit up like the sun, she waved excitedly, and said, ‘Hi old person! It’s my birfday today!’ ” At first, Wood felt nervous about the man’s response. “I was holding my breath that he didn’t bark at her,” she told Huffington Post. To her delightful surprise, the man’s expression softened immediately when he realized the young girl was speaking to him. After a few minutes of chatting, the two said goodbye and returned to their respected shopping lists.
It hadn’t been two minutes before Norah tugged on her mother’s clothes and asked if she could take a photo with “Mr. Dan,” the friendly man she had just met. Wood quickly located the man in a few aisles over and told him Norah’s request. He happily agreed and the two hugged in front of the camera, as if they had known each other for years, rather than just a few minutes. Wood wrote that Mr. Dan was in tears and shook Norah’s hand saying, “This has been the best day I’ve had in a long time. You’ve made me so happy, Miss Norah.” They each left the store that day with a bag of groceries and a new friend.
Norah and Mr. Dan’s friendship has continued to grow. Last week, it was Mr. Dan’s turn to celebrate his birthday—and of course, Norah was there with cupcakes and balloons to sing a happy 82nd birthday to him. The man is bright with a big, youthful smile as he holds the little girl in her arms. The quiet days of sitting alone in the house are no more—thanks to the Woods’ frequent visits.
Wood has been sharing her daughter’s heartwarming friendship with the world in the hopes that it inspires people to seek out the elderly and provide some genuine time and interest in their remarkable stories of their lives. “To invite them into their homes for coffee,” Wood suggests. “To take them a meal or surprise them with flowers for no reason whatsoever. To check in on their grandparents more often.” It can sometimes be the smallest gesture that has the biggest impact. The friendship between Norah and Mr. Dan is the beautiful proof.