COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — An almost eight-decade age difference could not stop two neighbors’ friendship. Ann Kearns, 87, has lived in the same house for the past 53 years but it is only within the past year she befriended nine-year-old Sofia Jerome from across the street. Even though Jerome no longer lives in the neighborhood, their regular meetups still continue.
“I saw her out on the porch and she was all kind so I went up and asked her what her name was and I told her my story,” Jerome said.
Kearns added Jerome came over almost every day to have chocolate chip cookies and play games, like poker, before the nine-year-old moved. The two bantered easily as Kearns revealed she is “an avid poker player.” Jerome added her former neighbor hosts a game nearly every Friday night with friends.
“There’s a game here and Sofia comes over and stacks the chips and watches them play and then she goes out and looks at people’s cards,” Kearns said with a joking smile. Jerome smiled back and let her friend know she is a good secret-keeper.
Last weekend, the two enjoyed a walk at Flat Rock Park. They told WRBL there’s nothing unorthodox about the friendship.
“If people said I can’t be friends with an 87-year-old, I’m like, ‘Forget you!’ I really don’t care because I’m lucky I have a friend,” said Sofia, who revealed she was bullied in the past by children her age. She also called the kids in her neighborhood boring.
The older woman noted people her age would probably be jealous of the friendship because loneliness is the “biggest sadness” faced by the elderly. In fact, Kearns adopted her 14-year-old deaf and blind terrier Buddy last year for some company. She and Jerome call each other “bud buds.”
The CDC reported almost one-third of adults over age 45 expressed feelings of loneliness. Pacer.org states over 20% of children surveyed by the government and higher education agencies said they were bullied.
According to the two, they often learn from each other. Jerome said her older friend helps her learn about current events and “why people are doing this and that.” Kearns explained she often learns new things from Jerome’s schoolwork.
Jerome was not sure if she would make tonight’s poker game, but she misses living across from Kearns.
The nine-year-old said, “Whenever I tried to go across the street, I’m like always, ‘I live in a different neighborhood.’”
Location will not stop the two from meeting up. Kearns found out Jerome cannot swim. She plans to sign her up for lessons soon.