May Schwaiger will celebrate her 100th birthday today.
“I feel good about it. I can still walk and talk and listen — not too good, though,” the lifelong Kenoshan quipped. “I didn’t think I’d live this long.”
May said she “naturally stayed” in Kenosha and never thought of leaving.
KAFASI fosters friendship
Anne Wasilevich met Schwaiger while serving as a “friendly visitor” with Kenosha Area Family & Aging Services about four years ago. Anne began meeting with May on Sundays and the two became instant friends. The two often play dominoes or farkle together over a bag of potato chips. May sometimes drinks Mountain Dew.
“I cheated at the dominoes,” May laughed.
KAFASI’s popular Friendly Visitor program connects men and women 60-and-older with volunteers who provide emotional support, encouragement and conversation.
Anne encourages others to seek out friendships with local seniors. Because most of May’s friends have died, Anne is a crucial outlet for May.
“I think she brought me joy more than I thought I could bring her,” Anne said. “Mostly we stay in and talk and laugh and joke.”
May was married to Leo Schwaiger for 58 years. He died in 2002 after struggling after a stroke. Her son, Larry, died in 2013 from cancer. May recently moved in with her daughter Diana and son-in-law Rob.
“May has gone through quite a bit in her life,” Anne said. “A lot of the time she would tell me, ‘I must have a reason to be here and that’s why I’m still here.’ It’s a treasure of hers that she continues to say that.”
Anne is also used to Sassy, May’s tiny pomeranian.
“My Sassy is sassy,” May added.
Plea for kindness
May said folks don’t seem as “nice” anymore, something she hopes changes.
“It’s changed quite a bit,” she said. “People aren’t as nice as they used to be, I hate to say it. I think the people were much nicer years ago. They’d do things for their friends and run and help them.”