Neighbors With A 97 Year Age Difference Become Friends Amidst The Pandemic

By Stephen M August 25, 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic devastated the world with a high death toll and economic meltdowns worldwide. But amidst all these difficulties, a friendship was formed between a two-year-old boy and a 99-year-old woman.

We all remember the seemingly endless months when we had to stay at home to keep the transmission rates low. We might have been bored inside, but toddler Benjamin Olson was lucky enough to have an open yard to play in. One day, he stumbled up to the fence that signaled the end of their property. On the other side of the fence stood Mary O’Neill, his almost 100-year-old neighbor.

Image courtesy of Sarah Olson via

O’Neill started by waving at Benjamin from behind the window. Later, she started coming outside to say hello to her newfound friend. From there, they began having regular meetings behind the fence separating their various homes.

In good weather, the two friends meet and sit on O’Neill’s steps for bubble blowing. According to her, Benjamin would bring his elderly neighbor gifts in the form of sand or rocks. And she received these tokens of love with gratitude. And she reciprocated the gift-giving, passing along a box of toys that belonged to her late son.

Image courtesy of Sarah Olson via

They didn’t just give each other gifts and blow bubbles. They made up their own games, too. The two friends played “cane ball,” where Benjamin kicks O’Neill a ball, and she hit it back to him with her cane.

His mother, Sarah, describes O’Neill as an independent person who doesn’t show her age. Though, at 99 years old, when the weather turned, Mary would have to stay inside. This was sad for Mary, Sarah, and little Benjamin.