The pair would regularly meet by a fence that separates their homes.
Talk about loving thy neighbor. An unlikely friendship blossomed during the pandemic between Benjamin Olson, a 2-year-old boy, and his neighbor 99-year-old Mary O’Neill in Minnesota. The pair may not have a lot in common but that didn't matter to the new BFFs. The two unorthodox best friends would regularly meet by a fence that separates their homes. At first, Mary would just stop by to say hello. But soon the duo started to spend more time together. “For more than a year, he didn’t see other kids. He didn’t interact with anyone except our family and Mary,” Benjamin’s mom, Sarah Olson, told TODAY Parents. “They ended up forming an incredibly strong bond.”
The sweetest story you’ll read today: A 2-year-old kid is now best friends with a 99-year-old neighbor thanks to quarantine.— faceofmalawi (@faceofmalawi1) July 24, 2021
Credits: Sarah Olson
Benjamin Olson, 2, and Mary O’Neill, 99, are the loveliest best friend duo. #BenjaminOlson #MaryO’Neillhttps://t.co/TyLzEV5lEM pic.twitter.com/zu7kbf41nl
Mary lost her husband 37 years ago and all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren live out of state. Her new found-friendship definitely means a lot to her. “Benjamin keeps me company,” she said. The two often sit on her steps and blow bubbles together. “Sometimes he’ll get up and grab a piece of sand or a rock and give it to me as a gift,” Mary said. “He makes me feel good.” The pair of besties also play a special game that Mary came up with early on in their friendship. She calls it "cane ball." The game involves Benjamin kicking a ball to his friend and Mary passing it back to him with her cane! She also gifted the toddler a big box of toy trucks that belonged to her late son. “Mary carried this big laundry basket filled with heavy trucks up from her basement. I have no idea how she did it. But she carried out those trucks, no problem,” Sarah recalled. The old metal Tonka trucks belonged to Mary's late son. "He passed away, so they've been sitting down in the basement for years and years," she said. The trucks have been given a new lease of life and are making another little boy's day. The bright toys are now helping young Benjamin learn his colors.
"Cane Ball" -- it's one of the made up games 2-year-old Benjamin Olson & 99-year-old Mary O'Neill play across their backyard fences. The two became best friends when both were stuck at home during the pandemic and still play nearly every day. KARE [email protected] #land10kstories pic.twitter.com/pP2IeI34jg— Boyd Huppert (@BoydHuppert) July 20, 2021
NBC affiliate KARE 11 interviewed Mary and the Olsons about this unlikely friendship. Speaking about Benjamin and his baby brother, Noah, Mary said, “They're the closest thing to grandchildren I have around here.” On days they couldn't see each other because of bad weather, the elderly neighbor would long for their company. “I missed them, missed seeing them,” Mary said, “when it was too cold for them to come out, when it was raining.”Benjamin’s mom wipes away a tear, saying, “I had never known that,” Sarah said. “I'm so happy they have each other.”
Awwww so beautiful and so sweet God bless lil man and his neighbor 😍😍💙💙🙏🏾🙏🏾💯💯— Nikki🍯💖🍫♓👸🏾 (@_nik_nik_b) July 24, 2021
Benjamin's mom got emotional as she listened to Mary shared how important Benjamin's friendship meant to her. “Mary is fiercely independent. She doesn’t really show her cards,” Sarah explained. “So I got really emotional when I heard her say that she missed Benjamin on the days when it was too cold or rainy to go outside.” Benjamin felt the same way. “Mary really is Benjamin's best friend,” Sarah said. “She’s his first best friend.” We could use more people like Benjamin and Mary that remind us friendships have no barriers!