Age 98 Woman Spends Weekends Shredding Mail for Heartbreaking Reason


There are a lot of things no one tells you about aging. In fact, when you are young, your thoughts are light-years away from contemplating such things.

But then one day you look into the mirror and hardly recognize the face staring back at you. Suddenly there are fine lines and gray hair, or a lack of hair, that you never really noticed before. Then the shocking realization hits you: you are getting older.

Before you know it, life moves on at what seems to be fast-forward speed, and suddenly you are a grandparent…or a great grandparent.

Friends and family members pass away, and between that and how busy life can be for the remaining loved ones in your life, you find yourself spending a lot of time alone.

Senior centers help fill the gap for the aging, providing many opportunities for companionship, activities and doing new things.

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They can be a welcome respite for those who find themselves spending most of their time, otherwise, on their own.

But what happens in those hours and days not filled up with senior center hustle and bustle? In the heart-wrenching 2015 documentary titled “Junk Mail,” we see what life is like for an endearing 98-year-old woman named Mary Tony.

Voyager production partner and documentary director Charles Frank, 21, was immediately captivated by the subject of his film.

“I was blown away by how open and vulnerable and loving Mary was so quickly,” he said. “Within three days I felt like she was my grandma. She was so willing to let people into her life and her home and be open.”

Part of that openness included Mary sharing the starling secret of how she fills her weekends when she can’t go to the senior center named the Easton Area Lifestyle Campus. “You know what I do?” she said in the film. “Don’t laugh.”

She continued, “I get junk mail, I strip it. And after I strip it I cut it up small, put it in a bag and put it for garbage. I have to do something; otherwise I’d go nuts.”

Do you make an effort to spend time with older loved ones?

She looks forward to the center opening again each week. “I can’t wait until morning comes so I can go to it,” she said in the film. “I like it down there. You meet friends, you talk to them.”

Despite everything, Mary kept a positive outlook. “God is good to me. Who at 98 years old is still walking on their feet? I am, I am,” she shared.

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Frank told Lehigh Valley Live how impressed he was with Mary. “She’s just incredible in that she’s 98 years old and so wanting to live a full life in any way she can,” he said. “And that’s just inspiring for sure.”

Mary’s story went viral and many people wanted to reach out to her, via Voyager’s Facebook page. In October of 2017, the sad news was posted that the charming and inspiring Mary had passed away.

Citing a 2012 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study, the SF Globe wrote that “…46 percent of non-institutionalized women over the age of 75 live alone — a percentage that the Department of Health says increases with age.”

She may have left us, but Mary’s story, available for free viewing on Vimeo, lives on and can continue to inspire and motivate people to reach out to their older loved ones.

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