Opening hearts

Few reports on television move me to tears, but this did.

Steve Hartman, a correspondent for CBS News, searches the nation for evidence of connections Americans have with one another. I love his reports that demonstrate the good that is in all of us. Recently, he showed us how an innocent child reached out and changed the life of an 82-year-old widower. It happened in the canned vegetable aisle of a grocery store.

For six months after his wife died, Dan Peterson’s grief plunged into a deep depression, according to Hartman’s report. The old man mostly just sat in his home and stared into space. Then one day, as he was grocery shopping, it all changed. He hated grocery shopping, and it showed on his face.

When Norah Wood, age 4, saw him in the canned vegetables aisle, she stood up in her mother’s cart, announced to this grumpy stranger that today was her birthday and asked him for a hug. Stopped him in his tracks. Tears started in the old man’s eyes, and yes, he delivered the hug. It was the first time in a long time he’d felt happy, he told Hartman.

Norah visits Mr. Peterson in his home at least once a week now, Hartman reported, and the two have a great time together. He has grandchildren, but they’re grown now, and she has her own grandparents, but this relationship is special.

Dan Peterson told Hartman that Norah is an angel. She reached out unafraid and changed his life. Norah, he said, opened his heart to a love that he didn’t know existed.

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