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By Eun Kyung Kim

A photo of an older man, eating alone in a restaurant as he gazes at a picture of his late wife, has gone viral after capturing the hearts of thousands moved by his devotion. 

Madina Bashizadah took the photo last week while having lunch with a friend at In-N-Out Burger in Fremont, California.



She noticed a man nearby who was eating his meal while looking at a framed photo he'd placed in front of him on the table. The picture showed what appeared to be the man in his younger days, sitting with a woman that Bashizadah immediately took to be his late wife.

She found the sight so moving that she couldn't bring herself to approach him.

“When I saw him I got very emotional and started tearing up," she told via email. "My best friend wanted me to talk to him but I couldn't without breaking down.”

But others in the diner had no problem doing so, and the man happily engaged in conversation with everyone who asked him about the picture, which he said did indeed feature his wife, who had passed away five years earlier.

“They met at 17 but the war had kept them apart," Bashizadah said, of what she heard the man share with others in the eatery.

"He had searched for her for 10 years and one day as he was telling his barber the story, the barber calls his daughter in and it ends up being her,” she said. “They were married instantly and it lasted for 55 years until she passed. He takes her photo everywhere.”

Bashizadah’s photo has been retweeted more than 8,000 times and marked as a favorite by at least 12,800 people since it went up on Oct. 22. She says she's been stunned by the response.

“I didn't think anything like this would ever happen. I tweet everything, it's kinda like my public diary,” she joked. “So when I saw this, It was such a beautiful moment I was like ‘aw, I'm gonna tweet this.’ Not to be cheesy, but it made me want that kinda love.”

Carl Van Fleet, a spokesman for In-N-Out Burger in Southern California, said the company is aware of the "incredibly touching" story about the customer "but we don't have a whole lot of other information about it." He also mentioned a similar, older photo has circulated "for a little while."

Two weeks ago, a photo of what looks like the same man but on a different day and with a different picture began grabbing widespread attention. The  Imgur photo, posted by soulrose, relayed the same story in its caption, which ended with some advice: "Be sure to talk to the elderly. Especially strangers. You may think that you will brighten their day, but you may be surprised that they can actually brighten yours.”

Bashizadah says that while she has received some “hate tweets” from users who think she stole someone else's photo (to those people, she notes that you can see the corner of her eye in her picture), she’s just glad the man’s story is being shared and touching so many hearts. 

"Goes to show you true love does exist and I would love for everyone to know!" she said.

Follow Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.