Reporting Aside

February 23

Pittsfield woman goes to Social Security office to tell them she’s not dead

Amy Calder interviews a salt-of-the-earth Mainer and finds her very much alive with a lot more living to do.

(Continued from page 1)

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NO DEMISE YET: Shirley Beaver stands outside the U.S. Social Security office in Waterville.

Staff photo by Amy Calder

“I took care of my husband for 17 years before he passed away 15 years ago. He had eight strokes and seven major operations. He was in a wheelchair; he was totally disabled.”

She took a photo from her wallet, of him smiling, with her by his side. They looked happy.

“He was a veteran,” she said. “He was in World War II, at Pearl Harbor. Then he was a truck driver.”

She told me stories about some of the people she nursed in their homes and how grateful and appreciative their families were. Her career was very rewarding, she said.

“I try to be who I am. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. You just have to open up your heart. I loved taking care of people. It wasn’t the money. It was the love and the care and the friendship and the kindness and a lot of TLC.”

The more time I spent with Shirley, the more I liked what I saw and heard.

She is a good, solid, salt-of-the-earth Maine woman who has worked hard, loved her family and used her skills as a nurse to help people, both physically and emotionally.

Before Shirley left to go home to Pittsfield, she said she was praying the nice woman at the Social Security office will help her sort out the mix-up about her supposed death.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” she said.

I’m keeping mine crossed, too, because Shirley is a sweetheart who is entitled to have not only the heart medicine she needs, but also every single cent of the Social Security money to which she is entitled.

Not to mention the fact that she is very much alive — and has a lot more living to do before the real thing comes along.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 26 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at

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