Advice From a 92 Year Old Woman


Ryan Rose

Claire Lopes asleep on her patio with her dog, Silky, resting in her lap.

Ryan Rose

Claire Lopes was a 92 year-old woman who had lived in both Somerset and Berkley in her lifetime. I got the privilege of getting to know Claire through a close family friend when she asked me to start visiting her mother during the summer. She wanted someone to be able to provide companionship and assistance to her mom when no one else could be around. I, of course, accepted and started visiting her every other day. Earlier this year, in early October, this same family friend informed me that Claire was put under hospice care and asked if I could start visiting her daily as someone always needed to be around in case she needed anything. During this time period of visiting Claire, I got to learn a lot about her.

Claire held many jobs in her lifetime. She worked at The Golden Pheasant (a former restaurant in Berkley), Reed and Barton (a former steelsmith manufacturer in Taunton), and Princess House in the accounting department. Outside of work, Claire took great pride in the meals she would cook for her monthly church dinners at St Jude Church in Taunton. One of her favorite stories to tell me surrounded her making a meatloaf for one of these dinners. People scoffed at the idea of a large meatloaf dinner, but by the end of the night 16 people had asked her for her recipe. I heard that story almost every time I visited Claire and each time she had this big smile on her face and look of excitement in her eyes. When I asked her questions about her life I often got, “I don’t remember” as a response, even if it was on a topic she talked to me about a few days prior, but she always remembered and got excited about her meatloaf story.


One of my favorite things about Claire was her sense of stubbornness. She didn’t like me doing anything for her, to the point where she would hold onto trash instead of letting me get up and throw it away for her. I’d always laugh and ask her if she was being stubborn again and she would reply with a short and sweet, “yup, I’m a stubborn thick-headed frenchman” One day during the summer when it was starting to get warmer, she had asked me to help her go to her patio so she could lay out in the sun. I said yes, but that we needed to put on her sunscreen first, something she is usually not very fond of doing. She agreed though and I spent a good 10 minutes looking for her sunscreen. When I finally found it and asked if I could put some on her arms and face she looked at me confused and asked, “For what?” I laughed and told her that I wasn’t allowed to bring her outside unless she put on sunscreen first. She looked back up at me and said in a dead-serious voice, “Well I guess I’m staying inside then.” I’d be willing to bet that when I left that day, she probably tried getting herself off the couch and to the patio without her sunscreen. I think that was not only the most stubborn memory I have of Claire, but also the funniest. 


Earlier this year when I was told Claire was placed on hospice care, I had the idea of writing an article for The Breeze where I’d get life advice from her to share with the community she lived in. I sat down with Claire one day and asked her what she would say if she could share any advice with the world. Her answer was concise and straight to the point, “Just always do your best to do the right thing and be a good person.” Her answer, as simple as it was, is an important one. Claire wasn’t worried about superficial things or the chaotics that so many of us get caught up in. Instead, she felt that as long as you always have pure intentions and put your best foot forward, you can never go wrong. This advice couldn’t come at a better time. Whether it be from the stresses of the holiday season, the hardships that come along with living during a global pandemic, or even the immense amount of division found in communities today, we all sometimes forget about what is really important. Claire’s advice serves as a good reminder to put your best foot forward and always strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be.