It happens every now and then that the most meaningful things in our lives are a result of a snap decision that may seem, at the time, insignificant. Such was the case when 22-year-old Spencer Sleyon decided to download the gaming app Words With Friends. Bored one afternoon and needing something to fill his time, he had no idea what riches would come of it.
Pretty early on, Sleyon was matched with an opponent named Rosalind “Roz” Guttman, an 81-year-old woman living in a retirement community in West Florida. One game turned into over 300 games over the past year, and while their Scrabble skills most definitely improved, so did their budding relationship.
The pair began exchanging messages through the app, at first critiquing each others’ strategies and moves, bonding over their shared competitiveness. Soon they found themselves exchanging more personal stories and even asking each other life advice. Sleyon would joke with his friends about the unlikely friendship whenever a message from Guttman would pop up on his phone (signaling it was his move in their game).
One day, when Sleyon was discussing his relationship with Roz at a friend’s house, that friend’s mother, Amy Butler, a pastor at a local New York City church, asked if she could use the story in an upcoming sermon. Upon further thought, though, she wanted to do more than that: so she offered to connect young Spencer and Roz in real life.
The meeting was set up, so off Butler and Sleyon went on their 1,000 mile trek down the East Coast to Florida. Can you even imagine what both of these unlikely friends were thinking before their meeting? What a crazy thing to do, right? But take a look at these pictures. Can you even imagine a more perfect pair?
so last summer i randomly met this 80 y/o woman on words with friends. we played 300+ games together and she actually ended up becoming a good friend of mine. today i got to go to florida and meet her in person💜 pic.twitter.com/VXDbNS4eUo
— half-empty (@half___empty) December 1, 2017
We don’t think we’ve ever seen more precious smiles than the ones above. And, naturally, the Twittersphere cannot get enough, because anything this pure deserves to be shared. The image has been retweeted over 243,000 times, with people literally gushing over the sweetness of it all.
“How many points is ‘crying’? This is so sweet” said one commenter.
Another said, “This is so beautiful. My grinch heart just grew.”
When asked about why he thought their story went viral, Sleyon responded to The Root, “Besides the obvious — the fact that I’m a young black male and this is an old white woman — a lot of people enjoyed the fact that we were able to get so close, especially given the tension in the country.”
Maybe all it takes, sometimes, is for walls and barriers to be taken down by something as simple as a shared interest in an online game. When the gates are opened for conversation and mutual sharing, you never know what can be found. In the case of Spencer and Roz, a lifelong friendship that spans miles and generations is what was gained. Something tells me the games, and the visits, are sure to continue.
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.