“We mostly talk and drink champagne”: meet the pensioner with a 31-year-old roommate

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

A “sassy” 89-year-old woman has been taken in by her 31-year-old neighbour after being hospitalised for two months.

Norma Cook, who suffers from leukaemia, moved in with Chris Salvatore after being unable to afford 24-hour care – but there is a happy ending to the story.

The unlikely pair, who have been friends since meeting in their West Hollywood apartment complex five years ago, are both having a ball, and have settled into a happy routine.

“He cooks for me,” Cook told Today. "We always watch the news. We mostly talk and drink Champagne and eat peanuts."

“She just hangs out on my couch and watches TV,” Salvatore added.


Describing Cook as “sassy but friendly”, Salvatore said he made the decision to invite her to live with him because he couldn’t face the thought of her living in a facility.

Following her hospital stay, he set up a GoFundMe page to try and secure money for carers to help look after her when she returned home. However, despite raising $60,000 (approximately £45,500), the funding quickly ran out, so Salvatore stepped in to help.

"She couldn't be happier that I asked," he said. "I was over there visiting most days anyway.”

Cook, who has no children, has lived in the apartment complex for around 30 years, and was adamant that she wanted to “carry out the rest of her days” living there.

When she moved in with Salvatore she also brought her beloved pet cat, named Hermes, along with her.

“He’s a really wonderful guy,” she said of Salvatore.


Salvatore, who works as an actor and singer and is a gay rights activist, said Cook calls him “the grandson she never had”.


He now documents the pair’s adventures on social media using the hashtag #myneighborNorma, and counts himself lucky that he took the chance of knocking on her door five years ago.

"She offered me a glass of Champagne — it's her favorite drink — and we just sat down and talked," he said.

"We connected right away.”


Share this article


Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

Other people read

More from Life

More from Sarah Biddlecombe