If you’ve been listening to the news lately, then you have probably heard an unending stream of commentary regarding next week’s presidential election. However, you may have also heard the heartwarming story of an inter-generational friendship that was forged at a grocery store in Atlanta, Georgia.
Everyone has to buy groceries, that is the beautiful thing about a supermarket. No matter where you are coming from in life, purchasing sustenance is a basic human need. It is a need that reminds us that we are all exist together and need to take care of one another. This fact did not escape four-year-old Norah who recently became fast friends with Dan Peterson at the local grocery store last month.
On her fourth birthday, Norah asked her mother Tara Wood of Tara Wood, Writer if they could stop by the grocery store for some birthday cupcakes. Like anyone receiving a cupcake request of a tiny birthday girl, the answer was naturally, “Of course.”
As Tara wheeled Norah and her sister around the store searching for the perfect birthday cupcake, Norah suddenly squealed, “Hi old person! It’s my birfday today!” Instead of brushing this gleeful proclamation off as a child’s meaningless chatter, the man whom was addressed, a man named Dan Peterson or Mr. Dan, looked up with curiosity.
Unfazed that his shopping was interrupted he replied, “Well hello little lady! And how old are you today?” The pair chatted for several minutes and then parted warmly with a happy birthday wish from Mr. Dan.
Not too long after their goodbye, Norah decided that she needed a birthday photo with him. Obligingly, her mother wound up and down the grocery store aisles searching for the man with whom her daughter kindled an instant friendship.
When Norah requested that they take a photo together “for my birfday,” Mr. Dan agreed. He explains that in that moment, as he stood in the bread aisle, he felt that Norah was a “light that just lit me up.”
As they posed together in the middle of the bread aisle, people began to stop and stare. The traffic jam that occurred as this 82-year-old man and four-year-old little girl hugged was magical. In fact, it may be the only time that blocking the path down the grocery store aisle could be considered a delightful moment.
At their second parting, Wood and Norah thanked Mr. Dan for his kindness to which he replied, “No, thank YOU. This has been the best day I’ve had in a long time. You’ve made me so happy, Miss Norah.” Wood was so touched by this encounter that she returned home and posted about it on her Facebook page. The response she received to her post about a chance meeting in a grocery store was unexpected and overwhelming.
In particular, an acquaintance of Mr. Dan reached out to her on private message to thank her for sharing. She explained that Mr. Dan had recently lost his wife and that she had not seen him as happy as he looked in the photos in a long time.
Wood was elated by this response. Encouraged, she asked for Mr. Dan’s phone number, which she called a few days later.
On their first visit to Mr. Dan, Wood told CBS news that “Norah brought him a framed picture of the two of them in the grocery store, pictures she colored (he put them on his fridge!) and a bag full of pastries and Butterfingers.”
Needless to say, the kind reminder of their first encounter was well received.
Since that visit, Norah asks about Mr. Dan every day. She worries if he has enough blankets on his bed and enough cheese on his sandwiches. On at recent visit, Norah even brought him a stuffed dog to “keep him company and make him feel happy.”
Although seventy-eight years separate these two friends, they couldn’t be closer. However unexpected their relationship might be, the pair was brought together by the mutual necessity of enjoying a good meal and human interaction that only a grocery store can provide.
These two kindred spirits will likely be friends for years to come and may even go shopping together this Thanksgiving.
Recently Wood revealed, “I’ve invited him to spend Thanksgiving with us. He’s part of our family now. Whether he likes it or not, he’s been absorbed into my family of nine and just like Norah said, “we’re gonna love him all up.””
This post was originally published in November 2016.