child holding older man hand

There’s a man named Ted who lives in a senior home near our house.

I’ve only met him once, but he’s had a place in my heart ever since.

I first saw him about a year and a half ago, when I was out running errands.

I’d been driving by the Home and noticed him sitting out front, watching cars go by. As I drove past, I wondered what he was doing…

Was he waiting for a ride? Was someone coming to visit him?

A couple days later, I was on the same road, at about the same time, and there he was again–white haired, tall and thin.

And all by himself.

Again, I wondered…

Did he have family? Or friends?

I thought about him the whole way home.

When I saw him again a few days later, I felt a pull to stop and talk to him–a pull so strong that I slowed down and turned into the parking lot after the next intersection, thinking I should go back. But when I looked at the clock, I realized I had only fifteen minutes to pick my son up from school.

I sighed and drove off, promising that next time I’d say hi.

Then I realized I didn’t have to wait until next time…

“Want to surprise someone today?” I asked my son when I picked him up.

I told him about my idea and the man I’d seen.

We went home and cut roses from our yard. I took the thorns off, and we made a bouquet. Then we drove back to the Home.

But when we got there, the man was gone.

I parked the car and we went inside, hoping to find him.

“Can I help you?” the woman at the front office asked as we walked in.

“This might sound strange,” I started nervously, “but I’m looking for a man who sits outside in the mornings, right out front. He’s tall and has white hair…”

“That sounds like Ted,” she said, smiling.

I showed her the roses. “We wanted to give him these.”

“He was just here.” She looked around the lobby. “There he is,” she said.

I saw him by the stairs.

My son and I walked up to him.

“Ted?” I asked.

He nodded.

“I see you in the mornings sometimes when I drive by.” I held out the bouquet. “We just wanted to give you these and say hi.”

Slowly, he took the roses, a look of surprise on his face.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

Then he turned to my son and reached out his hand.

And I got a lump in my throat.

Because it’s beautiful to see the hand of a child wrapped inside that of a ninety-or-so-year-old man.

He asked my son what his name was, and he thanked us again.

We only stayed for a minute before saying goodbye.

But in that moment, Ted made his way into our hearts.

When my husband and I took our kids to the Home last Christmas to deliver some cards that they’d made, they walked up and down the halls looking for a door with the name Ted on it. When they found one, they picked out their favorite card and set it on the floor in front of the door.

And to this day, when I drive down that road, I look for Ted sitting outside.

The best part is, so do my kids.

I know that Ted might have a family that sees him often. And he might have friends that bring him flowers or send him cards.

But, then again, he might not.

Either way, I’m thankful I met him.

Because it reminded me of the impact that reaching out to others can have.

And the importance of caring about people we may not necessarily know.

And I’ll never forget the image of that man holding my son’s hand,

or the smile on both of their faces that day.

53 Comments on A Man Named Ted

  1. Holy Mackerel (is that how you spell mackerel???), that made me so happy. This is the kind of thing you see in a movie, Genny. There really are good people like you. I think the best thing about this is what your children have learned from it. I loved this story.

  2. Genny, I’m covered in goosebumps! My eyes are full of tears – this is such a touching post. For me it was so personal because that’s how many people have come to know my parents. Because of my Mom’s broken pelvis, they spend much of their day sitting on their front porch. I’ve been there helping with meal preparation etc..and I can’t believe the number of people who are just driving or walking by that stop and come up for a visit. There is even a police office who has a love for the elderly who stops by and I make them all a cup of tea while they visit. It’s beautiful. Oh that I too would respond to God’s promptings and be His love to others today.Hugs,Joy

  3. Genny~What a wonderful story! I’m sure that you have touched the heart of Ted in ways you may never really know. It is SO good to know that there are kind, compassionate, and giving people still out there! What an example you are setting for your children as well. Your story encourages me to be more aware of those people-young or old that cross my path on a regular basis and take the opportunity to reach out to them.Thank you for sharing and I’m glad your back:)

  4. Genny,So glad you are back and shared this story. It reminds me of a similar story in my own life concering a homeless man I kept seeing until one day I bought him lunch with the last few dollars I had. I didn’t see him again for years and then one day when my own son was ‘working on his testimony’ and was homeless ~ I saw this same man sitting at a bus stop. It reminded me to pray and I never saw him again. One of God’s angels? Maybe! But reaching out gave me such a feeling of seeing God through this man.I love how God puts momentary people in our lives to teach us eternal lessons.Blessings, Cindy

  5. I agree with the last comment on this being a wonderful reminder to listen to the nudges God gives us. This is such a beautiful story…. thanks for the blessing today.

  6. When I lived in San Francisco, I worked at Jewish Home for the Aged for five years.I was so connected to so many of the residents, they were amazing.It is so true how much a touch of a young hand means! Moving and Inspiring story!

  7. I have just been praying for ways that I can encourage others and God has brought to mind serving the elderly. I am leading a Bible study at our church’s Mom2Mom group this fall and we will be focusing on how we can encourage those in our church who are aging and not able to get around much any more. I think they are so much like us on the inside, but people don’t see them as such. The lonliness would be so hard. Your post was a great encouragement!! :) What a lovely heart for others you have.

  8. wow. so good and so true…..a small gesture goes a long way to show someone love….what an encouragement to stop and look around and make time for the truly important things! thanks genny!!

  9. I stumbled on to your blog this morning through a rather circuitous route, and I’m very glad that I did. This was a very touching story (and that picture is absolutely beautiful). I can’t begin to express how much I admire you, for taking the time, not only to visit this man, but to take your children along, as well. It will teach them lessons of love and compassion, that will stay with them all of their lives. We need more of that in the world.Nicely done.

  10. This is so wonderful–how powerful for you and what a powerful example for your kids–I wonder when we are home in eternity you will discover you were giving roses to an angel unaware….So glad you liked the pic of 3/8 and 7–he is such good big brother to her!Off to read your other post–as always, you write so beautifully and so compellingly– Blessings!

  11. Awwwwww…you made me cry! What a terrific, poignant story. And what a wonderful person you are, too! Thanks for thinking of Ted. He’s a symbol of so many older folks who need our special attention as well.

  12. How beautiful, and what a gift to both of you.Many (way too many) years ago when I was in Brownies our troop used to visit an old age home periodically. All these years later I still remember the name of the woman I used to visit, and her kind smile, and how sad I felt when I found out she had died.

  13. You brought tears to my eyes. I love the idea of kids building relationships with older folks…my daughter got to meet my grandmother soon before she passed away, and what a blessing to see her holding my baby daughter. Nina was not even one year old…too young to be afraid of the wrinkles, obvious sickness, and tubes and wires. I could not have been more proud of her when she smiled at my grandmother. I really want my kids to grow up with that level of comfort with the elderly. You have set such an example for your kids, and for all of us!Carrie

  14. That was just beautiful. It made me tear up and think about my time as a candy striper back in the 80’s….while working at the hospital I met this old man, Ed…he was very ill and had no family. I would get off my shift and sit with him for an hour and just talk. It only lasted 2 weeks. he passed in his sleep (or so they told me). I have never forgotten Ed.

  15. Genny, this is beautiful. It was a giving and a teaching and a learning moment all at once. How beautiful!I’m interested in your feedback on my recent post. I like your perspective/outlook on life. Stop by if you find time.In the meantime, Happy Sunday!

  16. I’ve got goosebumps and tears as well. My 95 year old grandmother is here visiting us now. My heart feels so heavy whenever seeing her hand hold my daughters’. I’ll never forget it, and I hope they won’t either.

  17. Very touching. Life doesn’t have to go by so fast. We can stop and make a difference. Obviously in this case you made an impact not only with Ted but your son as well.

  18. This is a beautiful story not just because you followed a prompting to stop, but because you shared it with your son. What a wonderful lesson about love you taught him that day. Way to go, mom!

  19. So often we think of something we want to do, or should do, but we end up thinking: "Some other time…" How wonderful that you did not wait until another time.Happy SITS Day! Enjoy the comment love today.Hanneke

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