In Minneapolis, an unlikely pair became friends during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Mary O'Neill, a 99-year-old woman, was left in near-seclusion duringg the pandemic, but her next-door-neighbor, 2-year-old Benjamin Olson, forged a special relationship with Mary that helped fill the void of loneliness.
Initially, Mary watched Benjamin play through their chain-link fence. She saw him learn to walk and talk throughout the pandemic. Benjamin loved seeing Mary, and eventually, they started to play a game over the fence. He would toss Mary a ball and Mary would bounce it back over with her cane. While the age gap might seem pretty large, little Benjamin just sees Mary as a friend.
"She's just Mary, or in the past couple of days, he’s been calling her 'Mimi.' We’ll be playing inside and he'll go, 'Mimi? Mimi?' and we'll go outside and look for [her]," Benjamin's mom Sarah Olson told CBS News. "She'll call out, 'Hey Benjamin!' when she sees him, and it's just been so cute to watch it."
Now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted, Mary and Benjamin are having more fun playdates. They blow bubbles and play games together on her back step. When she reaches the big 1-0-0 in August, Benjamin and his family will be there to celebrate their new close friend, Mary.