Sarah Darnell traveled with her caregiver, Savannah Rushing, from Johnson City, Tenn. to the Knoxville Civic Auditorium to see Gill's set. Darnell brought along a giant pink sign that read "I'm 94. You're on my bucket list." Some good Samaritan security guards made sure Darnell got a seat close to the stage so Gill would spot her.
After others in the crowd brought the sign to Gill's attention, he read it out loud in between songs before adding that she was on his bucket list, as well. More adorably, when Darnell shouted "I love you!" to Gill, he responded with ""I love you too, darlin'."
"This absolutely made her entire life in this moment right here," Rushing told Nashville's Fox 17. "She was so happy, she was about to cry!"
The story reinforces fans' assumptions that Gill is the sort of gentle, sensitive soul willing to embrace his audience and honor their dreams, even when he's busy doing his job onstage. When it comes to interacting with fans of all ages, Gill follows Grand Ole Opry founder George D. Hays' advice to a young Minnie Pearl: "Just love them, honey, and they'll love you right back."
Gill's currently on tour as he and Darnell await the arrival of Gill's new studio album Okie, out Aug. 23.