This lovely old woman is Mary Tony and she is 98 years old. The American lives alone in a small house and tries desperately to pass the time. It’s a warm Summer’s day, green leaves blow in the wind, birds twitter, and neighbours chat on their terraces. But Mary is stuck in her house.
Therefore, every day, a little bus stops before Mary’s door and takes the friendly woman to the local senior center. There, she can forget her usual depressing life for a few hours. But, this time her visit is different because there is a camera team on site. As the cameras film Mary, she is excited laughs sheepishly.
In the center, they try to do everything so that the retirees have a good time. “I hope, that if they go home and the next day they don’t come because they’re no longer here, that their last day was full of joy,” says an employee from the senior center. When the camera team asks why she considered her job so important, she simply says: “Because they’re still living. They’re no different than when they were younger.”
When the bus picks up the seniors again, one can see the sadness in Mary’s eyes. At home, she is lonely and all by herself. But the camera team pushes further and wants to know exactly what Mary does when she gets home. “What should I do? Where could I go? I am alone. I can’t see. I can’t hear. I can’t live with my nieces, they have their own families,” she says sad and resigned. The seniors center is a light in her dull life: “I can barely wait for the morning so that I can go again. I really like it there. But there is nobody there on Saturday and Sunday.”
What she does to make it through these two endlessly long days, she wears like a badge of honor on her heart: “I take advertising brochures and tear the pages into strips. The I cut the strips into small pieces and throw them into a bag and then into the trash,” she says with a broken, hoarse voice. “I have to do something, otherwise I’ll go crazy.”
When the employees at the seniors center visit and discover how Mary spends her weekends, it brings them to tears: “I’d never thought about it. After they leave and I go back to my own life, what they do when they’re alone.” But for Mary, the loneliness is no excuse to sink into self-pity, instead she remarks: “How many 98 year olds can still walk on their own to feet? I can. And I want to for as long as I still can.”
When her visitors leave, Mary watches long after they’ve gone. “I love you for coming. It’s made my day. And I will never forget it,” gulps Mary, visibly moved by the attention that finally registers with her.
For Mary, the attention and the hugs and kisses that she receives are worth more than anything else. She knows that she is not alone and that there are always people that love and care for her. Share Mary’s bittersweet story with everyone that you know, because nobody should be forgotten just because they’re old…
Thanks to Hefty for this article