I Am Hearth: Aurelia

By Emma Fellenbaum

Despite her long lifetime of loss and tragedy, 93-year-old resident of Ruggles Assisted Living, Aurelia, is generous, happy, and good-humored. She welcomed us warmly into her cozy apartment, which was decorated with various art projects, gifts, and pictures of her children and grandchildren. She enjoys the activities at Ruggles, where she’s been living for nearly fifteen years. Aurelia likes to play bingo and make arts and crafts. 

Aurelia is originally from Puerto Rico, and lived on a farm there. Sadly, both of her parents passed away by the time she was nine. Her uncle wanted to claim the farm as his own, which he eventually managed to do. After that, Aurelia stayed with her older sister and eventually moved to New York City before coming to Boston. Only seven years ago, her son died of AIDS. Before he passed on, though, she brought him food every day and kept him company. Aurelia has lost other family members to violence and a house fire. Her best friend at Ruggles, Sandra, also passed away several months ago. Aurelia thinks about Sandra every day and keeps mementos from her friend in her bedside table. Although she has endured more loss than anyone should have to, Aurelia maintains her strong religious faith, which helps her keep going.  

We asked Aurelia what else she’s done to get to the impressive age of 93, while looking much younger than that. She says that you have to take care of your body, and make sure to put moisturizer on your skin. She likes to go for walks in the Ruggles neighborhood when the weather is warm.

Personally, I was touched by Aurelia’s generosity. As we were leaving, she offered my sister a beaded bracelet she made in one of the art activities, insisting she that take it. She also gave me, my mother, and my sister hugs and kisses and told us to “come back anytime.” Aurelia seems to love living at Ruggles, saying that “Hearth is a very friendly place,” and that she wants “to say hello to everyone.” She is a remarkable lady, and I was very glad to get to meet her.