One small act of kindness can change someone’s life, and the most unlikely pairs can form the strongest of bonds. Such was the case with Chris and his neighbor. When he moved into his new apartment in West Hollywood, CA in 2012 he didn’t know that an old woman was staring at him from her kitchen window. He asked if he could come inside and say hello after greeting through the opening. The rest was history once Cook agreed.
Cook lived alone with her cat. The two quickly became friends over her favorite drink and gossip. They shared many precious memories over the course of their friendship. Birthday parties, holidays, and endless laughs can be found from pizza nights to lunches out on the town. They grew to feel like family as Salvatore became like the grandson Cook never had.
When Cook’s health took a turn for the worse at 89, 31-year-old Salvatore did what any good grandson would do and stepped in to assist with her care. She had been fighting leukemia for years, but she became critically ill at the end of 2016 and spent two months in the hospital battling pneumonia and breathing problems. The doctors decided that it was no longer safe for the elderly woman to live on her own. So, to help cover her medical expenses and the costs of her in-home care, Salvatore started a GoFundMe which raised more than $50,000. With no children nearby, Cook only had to go into a facility.
“I just couldn’t do that to someone who is like my own grandmother,” Salvatore said at the time. Instead, he offered to have his ailing neighbor move in with him. Cook was absolutely thrilled by the invitation, and the transition seemed only natural since he would spend most days visiting her apartment anyway. “My apartment was the only place she would have moved. She has strong opinions about where she wants to carry out the rest of her days, and she wants to stay here,” Salvatore explained about the arrangement. “Moving her in…it feels as though it was meant to be all along. It’s really fulfilling to be there for her.”
They quickly developed a routine after Cook moved in. He would cook for her, and the two would spend time together on the couch, drinking champagne, and eating peanuts. The doctors told them it would be a miracle if Cook lived past the holidays, but they were able to share a few more months together.
After Cook’s demise.
Cook passed away in February of last year. The bond he shared with the elderly woman has stayed with him all these years. “I feel her watching over me and it is a happy feeling,” He expressed at the time of her death. “She is out of pain and in peace, probably drinking a glass of champagne, dancing, reunited with the many friends that she’s had throughout her life. I am forever a changed man and I thank this magnificent lady for everything she has taught me.”
The four-year anniversary of Cook’s passing was marked by a post by Salvatore. “Over the years I have read so many wonderful messages about how inspiring my love for my neighbor Norma was, but what truly inspires me is the great capacity she had to love me. When we choose to love another, so many others feel it too. Beautiful, bountiful, blessings bestowed upon those you never knew.” The love and care that Salvatore and Cook shared with one another is a shining example that just a little kindness really does go a long way.
The two people who became best friends were Chris and Norma Cook.
They would think of each other as grandparents and grandsons.
The elderly woman was asked to help take care of Cook when his health deteriorated.