|by Stefanie Sears|
Miriam Frandsen, who turned 100 years old last month, hasn’t let the years dim a noteworthy part of her personality.
Frandsen has a very rich, happy life, and if there is anything about her that impacts the life of her daughter, Carole St. Mark, it is her “wry sense of humor,” St. Mark said. And Frandsen’s full-time, live-in caretaker at her Sleepy Hollow home, Susan Tramuttola, fully concurs.
It was Frandsen’s humor that was Tramuttola’s first impression of her. She met Frandsen when she was ready to leave Phelps Memorial Hospital where Frandsen was a patient after a fall.
“I met Miriam at the age of 94, going on 95 in a few months,” said the beloved caretaker. “She was funny and was holding a frog. She was so funny and cute. Just wanted to be with her. A loving and caring person.”
For Tramuttola, who has been a professional caretaker for over 20 years, meeting Frandsen was instant friendship as well as something else “instant.” “When I met her it was instant love. Personality plays a big role. Miriam, as I call her, ‘Mimi,’ is a sweetheart, easy going. You have to make sure you bond with the person. If you don’t bond it is very hard. I felt the connection with her right away. She has said to me, ‘You won’t leave me, you are my dearest friend.’ And she is to me my dearest friend. We understand one another.”
Tramuttola said Frandsen’s sense of humor is the best part of caring for her. “She could make anyone laugh. She is always making me laugh. I guess the most recent one is when we were watching TV. A commercial for Viagra came on and Miriam said ‘I need that.’ I said, ‘I don’t think so.’ She said, ‘Well, what’s it for?’ Now trying to explain that to a 100-year-old is not so easy. She ended up getting the meaning and we had a good laugh over it.”
Tramuttola said the best advice Frandsen has given her is to keep her sense of humor, as well as continue to be herself and never change for others.
Frandsen’s love for horses is also very active in both St. Mark’s and Tramuttola’s relationship with her. A fond memory St. Mark has of her mother is when, for her 80th birthday, she rode St. Mark’s horse Luke at the Cedar Lodge Farm in Stamford, Connecticut.
“My mother had a horse growing up and passed her love of horses to me,” said St. Mark, “On her 80th birthday she decided she wanted to ride my horse, having not been on one in 55 years. My horse trainer held him tight when Mom got on, and then led her at a slow walk around the ring. Mom told her to let go, picked up the reins, and did a perfect posting trot around the ring. She then did a one handed stop and said she’d had enough.” Frandsen actually had something in common with the equine at the time. “Luke had just turned 18 – which is just about 80 in horse years.”
Tramuttola’s connection to Frandsen’s horse interest is a bit different. She said that baking horse cookies with Frandsen is one of her fondest memories with her. In fact, Frandsen’s many kitchen talents stand out to St. Mark greatly. Her most valued memory is cooking with her. “She was a wonderful cook and hostess, gardener, sailor. She and my father had a sailboat at their home on Cape Cod. They sailed daily when the weather was good and were members of a local sailing group.”
In addition to her cooking, laughing, and horse treasuring, Frandsen was a homemaker who also helped out her husband with his auto dealership business called McCall Frandsen Buick Cadillac.
So how does Tramuttola feel knowing that she is caring for a woman who has reached such a milestone age? “It feels great. What an honor to take care of this great person. She has shown me so much. She will always be Mimi to me. Her nickname! She tells me I am her bestest friend. We have done so many things together. She has done so many great things in life. She married the boy next door. She is a classic. One great woman, who I am honored to take care of. Knowing Miriam is to love her.”
Frandsen obviously shares much positivity, and that positivity translates over to, according to St. Mark, the best piece of wisdom her mother has ever given to her: “Be kind.”