The pandemic saw families separated, unable to safely see each other in person. The separation had a big impact on people across the country. As a result, loneliness set in. But there was a silver lining to the slowdown for two neighbors who could form a bond behind fences. Meet these unlikely best friends: 99-year-old Mary and 2-year-old Benjamin.
According to KARE 11, with the pandemic making gatherings unsafe, 2-year-old Benjamin was largely kept inside. He was young when the COVID-19 virus changed the world, so he knew nothing different. But Benjamin “has never really had any other friends,” his mom, Sarah Olson, said. That was until he met his neighbor, Mary.
Mary is 99 years old, turning 100 later this year. She’s been largely alone in this pandemic, too. And because she’s high risk due to her age and the fact her family lives in another state, she’s spent most of the year alone. She keeps occupied by watching TV game shows and playing Yahtzee. “I’m playing against myself,” Mary told KARE 11.
The relationship between the two started slowly, first waving to each other from their windows which progressed to Mary venturing outside to say “hi” to the young boy when he was playing in his yard. After that, it didn’t take long for them to meet regularly outside, separated by the fence in between their homes. And they very quickly became best friends.
“Benjamin keeps me company,” Mary told TODAY Parents. Together they play “cane ball,” where Benjamin kicks a ball toward Mary behind her fence, and she places her cane on the other side to “kick” it back to him. Benjamin and Mary blow bubbles together, and like a typical toddler, Benjamin likes to give Mary little gits.
“Sometimes he’ll get up and grab a piece of sand or a rock and give it to me as a gift,” Mary said. “He makes me feel good.”
And Benjamin’s mom, Sarah, thinks their friendship is beautiful. “Mary is fiercely independent. She doesn’t really show her cards,” Sarah explained to KARE 11. “So I got really emotional when I heard her say that she missed Benjamin on the days when it was too cold or rainy to go outside.”
And for Benjamin, that feeling of admiration is mutual. “Mary really is Benjamin’s best friend,” Sarah said. “She’s his first best friend.”