Elderly Woman Overwhelmed Opening Heavy Gift from Grown Children


What is the greatest gift you’ve ever received? That’s a question where the answer invariably changes from individual to individual.

Some will recall a high-tech gadget or a present that fit life circumstances particularly well, while others might mention the birth of a child or a religious realization.

But in a viral YouTube video that has racked up over 3.7 million views as of press time, that answer is remarkably simple.

The 50-second-long clip opens with an elderly woman being handed a festively wrapped box by a man who appears to be her son. “Be careful with it,” he says as he lays it on her lap.

“Oh, it’s heavy!” she exclaims. She lifts the lid — and lets out a yip when she sees what’s inside.

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The occupants of the room break into laughter as a black cat’s sleek head appears, but the most striking reaction comes from the elderly woman herself. She engulfs the animal in a hug while making a sound halfway between a chortle and a sob.

Someone jokingly asks if it’s a black rat, but the woman is clearly smitten with her new charge. The roaming puppers nearby seem interested, but not overly so — it seems the family is already pretty pet-friendly, and the cat is clearly a welcome addition.

The reaction shouldn’t surprise anyone who has stayed up on recent social research. Studies have discovered that owning a pet helps the elderly in any number of ways.

“A new pet can stimulate someone to read up on an animal or breed, which can be very mentally stimulating and important at that age,” veterinarian Dr. Katharine Hillestad told

Other benefits include lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and increasing physical activity. Things you’ve very likely experienced if you’ve been fortunate enough to own a critter.

The benefits don’t stop with the owners. It also aids the animals themselves.

“These lucky pets go from the pound to paradise,” said Chicago veterinarian Tony Kremer. “Since most of the adopters are retired, they have lots of time to devote to a previously unwanted pet.”

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The bonds forged through these processes can give renewed meaning and liveliness to both parties. Some pets even keep their owners social, and everyone who has a furbaby is hard-pressed not to gush about them at every turn.

Not everyone is so supportive of giving animals to older owners. Dr. Harold Herzog of Western Carolina University has pointed out that caring for pets can put more stress on the elderly and that animals can present a true falling risk, not to mention the heartbreak should a pet die.

Those are very real risks, and complications involving both — and more — can and do happen. But do those possible pitfalls outweigh the benefits?

It’s hard to argue with the look of joy on the elderly woman’s face in the video above. Life is full of risks and pain, and if a pet can help ease some of that suffering, I find it hard to say no.

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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