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219 Years

A widowed-grandmother describes what it's like to live alone

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219 Years

"The little gold locket is one of the few pieces of jewelry the family has from Grandma Alice."

Amariah Nielsen

"The little gold locket is one of the few pieces of jewelry the family has from Grandma Alice."

Amariah Nielsen

Amariah Nielsen

"The little gold locket is one of the few pieces of jewelry the family has from Grandma Alice."

Amariah Nielsen, Reporter

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The following profile of Alice Williamson, the grandmother of freshman Amariah Nielsen, describes what it’s like to live alone as a widow in Farmington, Maine.  

She lives alone on the first floor of an apartment complex not far from the center of Farmington, Maine almost 3,000 miles from her daughter and grandkids. She hasn’t seen them in years. But this doesn’t scare her.   

Once a prolific knitter, her stiff fingers now only permit crochet on warm days.

And today is not one of those days. A mound of cloth and fluff sits across her lap waiting to be transformed. Eventually, it will become a small doll for her granddaughter, Victoria in Texas.

Sitting by a frost-kissed window at a small, round table swallowed under puzzle pieces, she watches a young couple chase hats and scarves down snow-covered streets. It brings back fond memories of her younger years. The days before thin yellowed hair and sagging skin Before her back bent and her knees crunched.

Before she lived alone.

Things got lonely after Frank died. He always said she would “Live until 300,” and now she sits here at 81 with 219 years left. She misses the way he bossed her around. The way he called her “Soupess.” The emptiness grew when her son, Sam died. It got painful when her oldest son Ben left.

She sits alone at her little window, hoping for phone calls or unexpected visits from the boys who live a few hours away. They do their best to drop by, but it’s hard most days.

It’s not being alone that scares her. Not even falling down the stairs. Only two things in this world keep her up at night: Insomnia and thoughts of going to the nursing home.

The day she can’t get up by herself. Go to the bathroom by herself. Clean her own apartment by herself. That will be the day she dies. “And they better make sure I’m dead because I don’t want to wake up in the furnace and think ‘Oh no, look where I ended up’”

The nursing home is the final destination. The place where old coots go when their family doesn’t want to deal with them. The place where you share a small room with a stranger who might not like you. A stranger who might not wake up one morning.

But she doesn’t fear death. She knows one day the reaper will muster enough courage to knock on her door, but it won’t be anytime soon. She still has 219 years left, and she won’t waste a single one.

 

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219 Years