No one expects to live until they’re 105 years old. That’s why centenarian Audrey Roberts has been left with no money to pay for her ongoing retirement. And this is despite her having worked hard throughout her career to build up a substantial retirement fund. But as she has gotten older, Roberts’ medical bills have mounted, and the risk of her losing her home has increased. However, a little boy whom she used to care for decided to step in and help out in a very big way.
Audrey Roberts has lived a simple life. When she left school after eighth grade, for instance, she earned a minimum-wage living as a marker and checker in a commercial laundry service. She subsequently worked hard to save for her future, born as she was into a generation of grafters.
Plus, Roberts has lived in the very same Bowling Green, Kentucky, property that she calls home today since 1970. In fact, she managed to save an impressive $200,000 in order to enjoy her retirement to the fullest. Yet while life has been relatively good for Roberts, it has not always been easy.
Roberts was married to a man named John, who was 15 years older than her, and together they had one child, Earl. But one day, at the age of 21, Earl was driving home in the snow when he was tragically killed in a car crash. Naturally, Roberts still mourns his passing to this day.
Furthermore, her husband John had a history of medical problems and passed away at the age of 70. So Roberts has been on her own ever since. As a result, the 105-year-old has been fending for herself for nearly half a century. And although she seems to be lasting forever, her savings have not done the same.
What’s more, the elderly woman – though in pretty good shape – understandably has rising medical costs to consider at this stage of her life. In fact, her social security income is not enough to cover the care that she needs, and her hope is fading for achieving her one remaining goal.
What is that goal? With Roberts having recently turned 105, all she wants in life is to “see out her days in her own home.” But with 24-hour care required, the bills quickly add up, and she could be forced to leave.
However, leaving is not really an option for her. In fact, doctors believe that Roberts functions best in her own home. When she hurt her hip a few years ago, for instance, it was thought that she may have to retire to a nursing home. But when her mental health deteriorated at the prospect of the idea, her friends prepared her house so that she could move back in.
Her physician, Dr. Sherryl B. Reed, said, “Going back to some kind of assisted living or nursing home facility would mentally be terrible for her, so she needs to stay in her home.” But how could this ever be a possibility for someone in Roberts’ situation?
Fortunately, Evan LaPointe has known Roberts almost his entire life. In fact, now aged 21, LaPointe considers the centenarian as his own grandmother. So when he found out that she may have to give up her home, he didn’t hesitate in offering a helping hand.
But how did this unlikely pair meet? Well, LaPointe first encountered Roberts when he was a toddler. In fact, Roberts had become a volunteer foster parent after her husband passed on, and LaPointe was occasionally placed in her care when his parents went away. Naturally, then, while Roberts looked after LaPointe, she would spoil him and treat him like he was her very own grandson.
As LaPointe later wrote, “I met Miss Audrey when I was only three years old. Audrey was a volunteer foster grandparent and a great cook! This worked well for the both of us… She liked to cook and I loved to eat.”
So, in the same way that Roberts cared for LaPointe as a child, LaPointe has now taken on the task of caring for Roberts in the later years of her life. Chiefly, he wants to do everything he can to prevent Roberts from being sent into care and to keep her in her home where she belongs.
LaPointe wrote, “We have always loved Miss Audrey. She has stood witness to me and my family’s lives for over 25 years. My mom Lisa, and her good friend Debbie, have worked tirelessly for years tending to Audrey’s needs… There were even times when [they] have been the round-the-clock caregivers.”
Furthermore, he explained, “They have been there when she needed to go to the hospital after a fall, the subsequent physical therapy, and the hiring of caregivers for round-the-clock companionship and care.” This time, then, LaPointe wanted to be the one to help, so he devised a plan.
Following a conversation with his brother, LaPointe decided to set up a GoFundMe page. He later explained, “We just remember how hard it was [when she broke her hip] and just how she got mentally. So my brother brought up the idea of trying GoFundMe.”
The cost of Roberts’ caregivers alone amounts to a hefty $90,000 a year. And this is despite them having taken a pay cut to help the lady out. Additional medical care plus the upkeep of the house means LaPointe is aiming to raise $100,000 to see Roberts good for another year.
It’s a story that has, naturally, resonated with anyone hoping for a little dignity in their final years. Indeed, since May 2016, the campaign has raised in excess of $43,000, with more than 1,000 donations coming from friends, family and complete strangers alike.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Roberts told Today. “He’s like my grandson. He’s always been with me. He’s a great guy.” For his part, LaPointe just wants to keep her last and only wish.
LaPointe told Today, “We’re watching over her, and we’re taking as much care of her as we can. But we need some help, and we need the community to rally around us.” He concluded, “It’s her last wish. She wants to die in her home.”
Interestingly, after working for 32 years in a launderers, Roberts also pursued a career in nutrition at the local hospital. In fact, the early work life of this one-time farm girl involved putting in a ten-hour day for a one-dollar reward.
Roberts further recalled the time when she started fostering children. “I was babysitting after I retired,” she told Bowling Green Daily News. “I was here by myself and wanting something to do. I heard about foster grandparents. We had fun. We had all those children.”
However, Roberts has particularly fond memories of LaPointe. In fact, she still keeps baby pictures of him around her home. Naturally, though, she was popular with all of her kids. So much so that she was voted “foster grandparent queen” one year, and she still has the crown.
“It brings back all of those memories,” Roberts said of the crown. Not least are the memories of the boy who would remain her friend into her centenary. She said, “He’s the nicest guy. He’s a sweetheart. He was a good baby, now he’s a good man.”
Indeed, LaPointe is hands-on with Roberts’ care. Along with his mom, he will take Roberts to a twice-monthly salon visit to have her hair washed and styled. And it’s a service that her hair stylist, Jerri Romans, refuses to accept money for; she’s so fond of the centenarian that she does it for free.
Romans told Bowling Green Daily News, “I’ve never heard her say a bad thing about anybody. She never says anything negative. She’s our own celebrity.” It is a feeling for Roberts not just held by her hairdresser. In fact, it’s one that is felt throughout the whole community.
For instance, local firefighters stationed directly opposite Roberts’ home are incredibly fond of her. On snowy days, members of the Bowling Green East Sixth Street Fire Hall will stop by to clear the path of Roberts’ home. That way, caregivers can come and go, giving Roberts the help that she needs.
So well loved is Roberts, in fact, that members of the community threw her a surprise party at the local church to celebrate her 105th birthday. “She is so loved,” LaPointe’s mom noted through tears of fondness. So when Roberts expressed concerns about her future, nobody hesitated to help.
LaPointe knew re-mortgaging her house was not an option. “Her house is tiny,” he told Bowling Green Daily News. “We know it’s not worth a ton. A reverse mortgage wouldn’t give her another year in her home.” So that is why he insisted on attempting to fund her.
Roberts has lived a simple, modest and hard-working life. She doesn’t want much; she only wants to see out her final days in her own home. In fact, she has a powerful message to bestow on all of us. She told Bowling Green Daily News, “Money, you don’t need it, only just to get by. That’s all I want. I don’t want to be rich.”