Movies like The Notebook and Still Alice give viewers an unflinchingly real look at people who suffer from degenerative brain diseases. But, as upsetting as the symptoms are, real-life patients like Margaret Mackie prove happiness can still be achieved.
Margaret was an 83-year-old resident of the Northcare Suites Care Home in Edinburgh, Scotland, and even though she suffered from dementia, she knew how to make a name for herself. At a Christmas party one year, she left everyone in the room overwhelmed with awe.
Margaret Mackie certainly isn’t a household name, but in February 2020, she was very well on her way to become one. Despite suffering from dementia, she pulled off a stunt that left people across the planet in total awe.
Margaret lived in Edinburgh, Scotland in the Northcare Suites Care Home, which was a facility that catered to elderly folks who required supervision. Margaret’s family moved her there once she lost her independence.
Northcare Suites Home Care
When Margaret was in her heyday, she actually worked as a whiskey distillery worker, and she was an expert when it came to spirits. But, as she grew older, like many people, her mind started to deteriorate.
It’s a tragic scenario, but as we age, we’re susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia, and it was the latter that afflicted Margaret. But, just because the 83-year-old’s mindset was dwindling didn’t mean her life was nearing its end.
New Line Cinema
Enter a man named Jamie Lee Morley. He worked in the cafeteria of the housing unit Margaret lived in, and he took a special interest in the vibrant woman he saw every day.
Twitter / JamieLeeMorleyMusic
Jamie and Margaret formed a close bond, and he always gave her extra attention. Not only was Jamie someone who helped supply the elderly residents with their meals, but he also had a singing career on the side.
Jamie was used to standing in front of a microphone and belting his heart out. His social media flaunted his recording skills, but it wasn’t Jamie who caught the attention of Northcare residents, employees, and family members one afternoon.
Twitter / JamieLeeMorleyMusic
As Jamie was taking a mandatory stroll through the hallways of Northcare he heard something incredible. He walked past a room and heard a perfect rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” being sung.
Who was the voice behind this glorious classic? It was Margaret, and Jamie was blown away at the perfection of her voice. So, the two made an awesome arrangement at the following Christmas party.
Jamie knew Margaret’s voice couldn’t be confined to the halls of the Northcare center. No, people needed to hear this angelic sound, and Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way” was the perfect introduction.
Employees set up a karaoke machine for residents to belt out a cacophony of tunes during the party, but when Jamie and Margaret stepped up to the plate, the audience knew something special was about to happen.
“I’ve loved singing and music since I was a little lad, and I could just tell that Margaret did, too. Her voice is amazing,” said Jamie. The two joined forces, and afterwards, the crowd was left speechless.
A standing ovation erupted for both Jamie and Margaret after the epic duo’s rendition of Frank Sinatra’s classic song. But, that was only the beginning of Margaret’s musical career.
After the success of the Frank Sinatra song, Jamie knew Margaret was something special, so he brought her to his own personal studio to record some tracks. Margaret Mackie was an expert with a microphone.
Jamie knew talent, and Margaret was one-of-a-kind. He spent years around people in the industry and knew a voice like Margaret’s was far from common. He needed to get the sound out to the masses.
So, right in the same studio he himself used, Jamie and Margaret recorded a professional version of “My Way” for a downloadable release. Amazingly, it actually landed on the list for most downloaded Amazon songs at the time!
It’s hard to believe, but Margaret and Jamie’s version of “My Way” actually reached number six on Amazon’s download charts, and at one point got to number 27 on iTunes’s Top 40. Here’s something to put their massive success in perspective.
United States Air Force
Do the names Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande ring a bell? Well, they should, because they’re two of the most popular musical artists of all time. But, Margaret Mackie outsold them both at one point.
Margaret Mackie struggled on a daily basis, but when it came to singing, it’s almost as if her brain gave way for a miraculous skill to come to fruition. Any future tracks might have some serious competition, though.
Many seniors are more talented than we realize. Born in January of 1922, 97-year-old Austrian isn’t like many other seniors her age. While others are just waiting out the clock, she still has plenty left to say before her final curtain call.
“Old people are often excluded from life,” she explains. “When you’re old, life is a lonely land. All your relatives are gone, your friends are gone, and no one really cares. People don’t want to hear the truth.” But she was going to give it anyway .
You see, eighty years prior to this memorable television event, Inge’s world was rocked forever. She was a 16-year-old Jewish girl living in Vienna when World War II broke out and took her father away forever.
After several years of living in hiding, her mother took her to Switzerland where they lived as refugees. “I saw four years of Hitler, of prosecution, and I escaped over the mountains where I almost froze to death.”
Eventually, Inge managed to get a job as a housekeeper in a villa used by American spies. After the war, she was offered American citizenship, so she and her new husband Otto moved to Hollywood where they made quite an impression.
The two were musical prodigies who ended up writing for Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and Doris Day. “Otto and I composed because we had nothing left except for our talents,” she said in an interview.
“After a while, I got very tired of that Hollywood life,” she said. “It’s all fake. So I left.” Inge instead focused all her energy into a new project that she has started with a couple of younger friends.
While some may find it hard to believe, Inge has taken her love for music and her passionate words to become the frontwoman of a heavy metal band called the TritoneKings — and she is having the time of her life.
“It’s important to stay active and surround yourself with young people and keep trying new things,” she explained. She never dreamed of being in a band, but she proved that it’s never too late to tread a new path.
“I met Inge almost 15 years ago in school,” her bandmate says. “One summer she started writing these poems about blood and death, and I told her ‘these sound like death metal lyrics,’ she said ‘death metal, what is that?'”
Inge’s poems, or lyrics as they’ve become, cover her views on the world, and she has seen quite a lot of it. “Let me stay here some more time,” she sang. “I have a message for humankind, learn a lesson from my forefathers’ wisdom.”
Since she doesn’t believe she can sing well, she screams her lines about growing older, about violence, about the slow destruction of the Earth and about how much life itself changes over time.
“Every one of my songs has a message,” she said. The first one is: don’t destroy what you can’t replace. The second is an even heavier message: you can’t avoid death, so you might as well laugh about it.”
Although Inge makes it look easy, leading a metal band in your 90s is no walk in the park. She can only record a few lines at a time and once forgot her own lyrics during a performance. “My spirit is very willing but my flesh is very tired…”
Nevertheless, TritoneKing has already produced 4 singles that all come with music videos, in which Inge rocks out as if she was only 72. They are called Totenköpfchen (skulls), Trümmer (rubble), I’m Still Here, and The Universe Echoes Back.
“You have to do something which makes you happy,” she said. “Some people drink, some people party… I write poetry. If I just wrote my poetry, nobody would hear or read it, but if I perform them on competitions, millions of people will hear it on YouTube.”
Inge was right; she and her band became a sensation despite her recently celebrated 97th birthday. “We know that this gives her energy, that this keeps her alive,” her bandmates said.
“I am alive,” Inge responded. “I don’t have to do special things to prove that. My concept of heaven and hell is that if in the moment of death you realize your life was full and good, you are in heaven. If you think ‘I should have done this or that,’ that is hell.”
When people asked her how they can obtain that heavenly feeling she said, “naturally, I always smiled. I smiled my way from poor to rich. I smiled my way out of the Holocaust. When you’re down and out, everybody tramples you.”
So confident in her message, Inge spread it on Switzerland’s Got Talent. As she walked onto the stage, a room full of questioning eyes stared back at her. “I am Inge and my biggest talent is not singing, but surviving,” she said. “You may laugh at me, but not until you do the same thing when you’re 94.”
And then she sang — and blew the judges way. “Forget the worm, forget the tomb, drink and eat and sing and laugh, then the devil will go back to hell.” While Inge’s age is relevant to her current stardom, her words stand incredibly powerfully on their own.
How long she will continue to record with the band is unclear, but it doesn’t matter to her — she is happy. “I’ve said that old age is a lonely land, but it can also be a beautiful land. There is total freedom.”
“Love affairs are rare, now it is the wind that caresses my hair, but the scent of a flower and the song of a bird are still there. Old friends are mostly gone, replace them with the young, they appreciate your stories of times gone by.”
Much like Inge, Bob Williams has inspired thousands in his old age through a similar optimism as well as compassion. While Bob is not musically talented, he touches hearts through his actions nonetheless.
The Quad-City Times
A resident of Long Grove, Iowa, the WWII veteran is known by most for his time as a high school teacher and football coach in nearby Davenport. But even with his reputation as a war hero and educator, Bob has become a legend in his small town of 800 for an entirely different reason.
Every Saturday, the 94-year-old rises bright and early with one very special purpose in mind. Pulling on his signature yellow slicker, Bob begins down the street and heads over to his local Dollar General.
HERSHEYS / YouTube
Bob is a familiar sight as he enters the small discount store, and he greets each employee by name as he shuffles up to the counter. Pulling a crisp 50-dollar bill out of his wallet, the cashier knows exactly what the elderly man is here for: chocolate.
HERSHEYS / YouTube
Handing him two full boxes of jumbo Hershey bars – one with almonds, one without – the cashier smiles as Bob cracks open one of the containers and hands her a full bar. Gifting another to the customer in line behind him, Bob heads back out into the streets of Long Grove, determined to make as many days as he can.
Known as “The Candy Man,” Bob Williams has been handing out jumbo Hershey bars to complete strangers in his community for the last 11 years. He was inspired to begin his mission of kindness after reading about a number of “pay it forward” initiatives being promoted across the country.
HERSHEYS / YouTube
Given his lifelong love of chocolate, Bob decided to make his trips to the dollar store worthwhile by sharing his sweets with others. Starting off with purchases of just three bars, Bob would keep one for himself and give the other two away. The responses he got were astonishing.
“You’d think I’d given them keys to a new car,” Bob said of the reactions to his initial act of kindness. “Honest to God, these people were thunderstruck.” From then on, the veteran knew exactly what his “pay it forward” movement would be.
The Des Moines Register
Over the years, Bob has given out over 6,000 Hershey bars within his community. Though he typically reserves his bars for people that “look like they could use a smile,” strangers aren’t the only ones that can expect a sweet treat from this kind old man.
HERSHEYS / YouTube
Jan Hartwig-Heggen, a close friend of Bob’s, estimates that he’s given her between 200-300 chocolate bars, most of which he leaves at her front door. “That’s his signature,” she said. “You always know when Bob has been there.”
Crittercam / Flickr
Another lucky resident that receives frequent visits from “The Candy Man” is Darla Fay, who Bob jokingly asked to be his Valentine one February before handing her an extra-large Hershey bar. Since then, Bob has visited Darla almost every day, always making sure to have some chocolate saved for her.
“Do you remember as a kid, the excitement and joy you felt when you first saw all the gifts Santa left under the Christmas tree?” asked Darla. “That’s the feeling I get when Bob surprises me with a Hershey bar. It just makes me feel like a kid again.”
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So, how does the 94-year-old keep up with the demand for his satisfying sweets? By stashing them, of course! Bob is known to keep around 500 chocolate bars in his freezer at a time, and he always makes sure to rotate them out so that he’s gifting only the freshest chocolate.
Unsurprisingly, Bob has become something of a celebrity in Long Grove, with nearly everyone knowing his name and his mission. Not a day goes by where cars don’t honk their hellos at him as they pass, and some residents will even approach him to exchange a hug and a smile for a delicious chocolate bar.
HERSHEYS / YouTube
Recently, a local magazine called Our Iowa did a feature on Bob and his remarkable hobby. After reading the article, one of Bob’s neighbors sent it to her son, who worked in Hershey’s corporate strategy department. He presented the story to company executives, and, right then and there, they were hooked.
Inspired by Bob, Hershey began their Heartwarming the World campaign, which sought to spread kindness and compassion nationwide. Taking a page from “The Candy Man’s” book, Hershey encouraged their employees to hand out chocolate bars to strangers, including those recently affected by Hurricane Florence.
HERSHEYS / YouTube
Not only that, but Hershey’s also reached out to Bob directly to make him part of their family. Cutting him a check for $1,500, the company promised to provide Bob with “all the bars he’ll ever need.” Now that’s a kiss!
With all the recognition Bob has received from his giving, he was able to purchase a nearby park bench to serve as a memorial for his late wife, Mary Elizabeth. Visiting the bench daily, Bob says that it’s really his wife who gives him his instructions to deliver his treats each day.
The Des Moines Register
But beyond it all, Bob’s mission is about more than just handing out Hershey bars to strangers. For “The Candy Man” of Long Grove, he hopes that his one small act of goodwill create an avalanche of kindness for people everywhere.
“I hope everybody picks up on that,” said Bob. “We need to lighten up and smile a bit more. Share whatever you can with people. There is no charge for that last bit of advice.”