Tara Wood was at the grocery store with her four-year-old daughter Norah to get some cupcakes for the little girl's birthday when Norah struck up a conversation with an elderly stranger.
“She said, ‘Hi old person! It’s my birthday today!'” Wood recalled.
While at first Wood was mortified her daughter would start a conversation that way, she quickly changed her mind.
The 82-year-old man, who the mom would later learn was named Dan Petersen, looked delighted that the girl was speaking to him.
"He wasn’t warm and fuzzy looking at all,” the mom explained. “But then, his expression softened. He asked, ‘How old are you today?'”
They continued shopping, but her daughter insisted they go back and find the man so she could take a picture with him.
“Something in her recognized something he needed,” Wood told Hot Topics. “It’s magical."
“He said, ‘You want to take a photo with me?'” continued Wood. “His face lit up. He looked like a completely different person.”
Norah thanked him and it nearly brought him to tears.
“His little lip was quivering. He said, ‘Miss Norah, you made me the happiest I’ve been in a long time,'” recalled Wood.
A friend of Petersen's heard the story and reached out to Wood on Facebook to thank her and Norah for their kindness, explaining the small interaction had meant a lot to the older man.
“She said when his wife died back in March, he sunk into a depression,” said Wood. “She said, 'That’s the first time I’ve seen that man smile since his wife died.'”
Wood decided to give him a call and see if he'd like to hang out with them some time.
"He just burst into tears. He said, ‘I haven’t stopped thinking about that little girl. She just inspired me,'” the proud mom said of their phone call.
They set up a time to meet and since then he and Norah have been inseparable.
“He had been so lonely,” said Wood. “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.”
Norah even helped him celebrate his 82nd birthday last week.