Grandma Fay: Hugs, Help and a Healthy Outlook at Age 90

| February 18, 2016

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By Dyann Nashton

Grandma Fay has been a fixture at St. Rose of Lima Parish in North Syracuse for so long that she doesn’t even remember how it all started. For at least the past 10 years alone, the 91-year-young lady has been reporting for duty daily at the parish elementary school.

It took a few tries to find out her full name since she is simply known by all as Grandma Fay. Like the name, she is practically famous for calling everyone “honey” and being generous with hugs. “I always give out hugs and kisses,” Grandma Fay Indivero said, “and then the little ones look up at me with those eyes…”

Principal Mary Crysler said that Grandma Fay often has an uncanny ability to anticipate needs. “She can kind of sense who the kids are that need an extra hug.”

She radiates her warmth for the school while attributing the school for her own health and well-being. “I look forward to it every day,” she said. “It keeps me moving and keeps my mind active. It makes my day.”

Grandma Fay seems genuinely amazed by the appreciation the young people and staff at the school show her. “The children are so polite and thankful for whatever you do. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy them,” she said.

Crysler said Grandma Fay even makes it a point to stop into the school’s summer program to visit the children.

“She loves the kids and makes sure to tell them that every day. The faculty and staff like having her around because she’s always so happy,” said Crysler.

“She loves the kids and makes sure to tell them that every day. The faculty and staff like having her around because she’s always so happy.”

— Principal Mary Crysler

Grandma Fay can be found daily at the school between 10:30 a.m. until almost 1 p.m. She lends a hand wherever needed. Sometimes when she arrives, she helps in the kitchen pre-paring lunch. Sometimes she hands out napkins at the end of the lunch line, and at other times she wipes the tables down. Very often she can be found warming up the children’s ice cream containers with her hands to free them from the wrappers. One unusually hot day, she brought in two ice-cold water bottles for Crysler and the school secretary. They were in a little plastic bag, so they wouldn’t sweat all over the place, Crysler noted.

A collection of these unassuming little tasks makes up Grandmas Fay’s ongoing kindness to her parish community. She remembers when she first assisted at the church rectory. “I’d help with the washing and ironing,” she said. Whenever the regular housekeeper took a day off, the priests would look forward to the meal Grandma Fay prepared. “Because, you know, honey,” she said proudly, “I’m Italian.”

And no daily visit to St. Rose of Lima School is complete for Grandma Fay without a stop at the church beforehand to pray. “I pray that God gives me the strength to go on and thank him every day that I’m able to do the things I do. And, I thank him for the school and the kids.”

At 91, the nonagenarian might be one of the church’s oldest parishioners, noted Crysler. Young-at-heart Grandma Fay simply stated, “I’ve really enjoyed life, and I’m just so honored and grateful for everything.”

Dyann Nashton is the development director of Notre Dame Schools.

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