A Century Well Lived
Dana Casadei, Media Relations Specialist
December 16, 2022
Saying Benjamin Kovacinski has seen a lot throughout his life would be a vast understatement – especially considering he’s 105-years-old.
Ben grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. He was sent there to live with his grandmother after contracting the Spanish flu as a child. They didn’t think he would make it, but he thrived growing up around cows, horses, and a dog, Nero, that became his best friend.
“I loved it,” he said.
It was there in Pennsylvania, in a one-room schoolhouse, that Ben learned to speak English from a teacher he still remembers fondly, even after all this time. But his first language, Polish, would come in handy during WWII when he served as a Merchant Marine, a group of civilians who delivered supplies and armed forces personnel by ship as part of the U.S. Navy. It was during his time with the Navy that he met his wife, Eugenia. An American citizen, she was fleeing Poland via Finland when Ben was sent to bring Americans back to the states.
Ben’s eyes sparkle when he speaks about his wife, who he was married to for about 50 years. “Not long enough,” Ben said, calling her a” lovable” woman.
Perhaps that’s why his advice to others, built upon a century and more of life experience, is this: “Just try to be happy. And the ones that you love, love them. Try to love as many people as you can.”
Today, Ben experiences love as an Angela Hospice patient. He receives care at home, where he lives with his son Bo, daughter-in-law Debbie, and their dog, Ellie, who loves Ben.
“She knows if he calls me at night or during the day that he needs something, she’ll start barking,” Bo said.
Bo and Debbie also know if they call Angela Hospice someone will answer them quickly, which has been a big help, especially when either of them may be unsure about something. It’s reassuring to know they have a calming and informative person on the other line via phone or video chat, to help them care for Ben.
For Ben, getting to see and use all this new technology – like video chat – developed over the last century has been wonderful. He’s even become a fan of Facebook, and enjoys video chatting with his grandchildren.
While Ben is receiving help today from his family and Angela Hospice, he’s also been a big help to the people in his life through his work as a Merchant Marine, and career as a stationary engineer – a career he spent decades in.
“You feel good about it, that you can help somebody,” Ben said.