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Audrey grew up an only child in quiet, tree-lined Middle Village, Queens. She remembers vividly her mother taking her to the spectacular 1939 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Park. And every Sunday, she would accompany her father to Catholic Mass with its rituals and heavy incense.
Following high school, Audrey landed a job at NBC, first writing synopses of television shows like Bonanza and The Jack Benny Program, then as a photo researcher. She loved working with the producers and directors who were crafting the golden era of television. After work, she’d join colleagues at the top of Rockefeller Center for a cocktail. It was there she met her future husband Jack, a writer at the network. She was immediately taken with his quick wit and rakish smile.
What began as an office flirtation, quickly blossomed into a marriage proposal from Jack. There was a small celebration with friends, and Audrey laughs recalling how the simple affair turned into a boisterous roast of the newlyweds.
Audrey and Jack moved into an apartment just a few blocks from the hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station. She still cherishes the loving partnership they forged over many years together. Both were dogged Mets fans – smiling as she recalls cheering wildly with Jack when the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series.
After retiring, she and Jack stayed in touch with many of their old pals, meeting up for drinks and hosting dinner parties. Each year, Audrey looked forward to attending the annual luncheon for the network’s retirees.
The meals are a godsend. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Five years ago, Audrey’s world changed. She returned home from an errand and found Jack collapsed on the kitchen floor. Audrey quickly called 911 and rode in the ambulance with him to the hospital. She visited him daily as he struggled to recover from the stroke. One night, as she put on her coat to return home, Jack pulled her close for a long kiss. That evening, the hospital called to tell Audrey he had passed just moments after she left.
Audrey has struggled with a great loneliness ever since. “I cry a lot,” she admits. After Jack died, one of their mutual friends used to call her every night to chat. But he too has since died, leaving Audrey his beloved yellow parakeet. “Without that bird, I’d have no living thing around me.” In fact, she’s lost more than a dozen other friends in recent years.
At 88, Audrey’s thin frame is stooped and she struggles to walk. She leans on the furniture for balance as she makes her way around the apartment she once shared with Jack. After physical therapy, Audrey regained some strength in her legs, but it was too costly to continue. In the last six months, she’s had two bad falls that landed her in the emergency room. Audrey struggles to get by on her small fixed income and laments that ambulance bills have cost her a fortune.
Audrey does not get out much, other than to refill her prescriptions. But for the last five years, she’s relied on nutritious home-delivered meals from Citymeals. “The meals are a godsend. I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she says.