BY: Michelle Liew
While the pandemic has been generating tough times for many, it is quite the opposite for 2-year-old Benjamin Olson as the young boy from Minnesota has found his first best friend.
To make it even more wholesome, his new-found best friend his centenarian Mary O’Neil, who will be celebrating her 100th birthday this December.
With travel restraints and restrictions on social gatherings, Benjamin was unable to see any of his friends. For children, friendships are important, and it was unfortunate that the phase of meeting new people had to be postponed for Benjamin. Despite that, he managed to strike up an unorthodox friendship with his next-door neighbour Mary.
“For more than a year, he didn’t see other kids. He didn’t interact with anyone except our family and Mary,” Benjamin’s mom, Sarah Olson, told TODAY Parents. “They ended up forming an incredibly strong bond.”
It is apparent that Mary lost her husband 37 years ago. She would wave at Benjamin through thw window and slowly began venturing outside to greet him. Soon, the two were friends and would have regular meet-ups by the fence.
“Benjamin keeps me company,” O’Neill told TODAY Parents.
When the weather is nice, O’Neill and Benjamin will sit on her steps and blow bubbles together.
“Sometimes he’ll get up and grab a piece of sand or a rock and give it to me as a gift,” O’Neill said. “He makes me feel good.”
The friendship between the two has blossomed into a heart-warming sight, despite being generations apart.
The two even created their own game where Benjamin kicks her a ball and she passes it back to him with her cane. She calls the game cane ball. Mary also gifted Benjamin a big box of toy trucks that belonged to her late son.
“Mary carried this big laundry basket filled with heavy trucks up from her basement. I have no idea how she did it. But she carried out those trucks, no problem,” Sarah recalled.
Mary stated that the trucks were good in helping Benjamin learn his colours.
“Mary is fiercely independent. She doesn’t really show her cards,” Sarah explained. “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.”
Benjamin felt the same way.
“Mary really is Benjamin’s best friend,” Sarah said. “She’s his first best friend.”