PAYNESVILLE, Minn. (WCCO/CNN) - There’s a certain routine at Stearns Place Assisted Living. Every day at 11:45 a.m., lunch is served to the residents, and with it comes a special treat.
To stay young, Ruth Everson started putting on a daily recital, even taking requests that she writes down.
“You meet a lot of people playing the piano. And I’m a people person. I like to be happy,” she said.
She is 103, but her love for the piano began when she was 5. Her dad would use a horse-drawn wagon to take milk cans into Grove City. He’d drop young Ruth off for a piano lesson while he did business.
Eventually, her parents sold a cow to buy her a piano.
“When she plays the songs that people know, their are smiles on their faces, and you can see that they are enjoying the music that they remember,” said her son, Ken Hanson.
What Everson remembers is playing the piano so much that it became second nature, from being the first organist at Paynesville Lutheran Church in 1938 to teaching her grandkids and great-grandkids how to play.
“Isn’t that amazing? She’s an amazing lady,” said Kathee Martinson, her friend. “She’s told me it’s the reason she gets up in the morning. She has something to do, and we would be disappointed if she wasn’t here.”
While the audience has changed over the years, the residents here need Grandma Ruth as much as she needs them. She’s become a musician/therapist as she listens to their problems. And when the time comes to say goodbye, she is the one they invite to be by their side.
“People will say they want a certain song played when they are passing away. It makes them happy,” Everson said.
A famous musician once said, “Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” which is why Everson plans to play until she can’t anymore.
“You make people happy, and I like to be happy,” she said.