I don’t blog about Twitter very much. While it is a useful and wildly popular social media tool, many biz owners have not yet taken the plunge.
Today I make an exception.
I knew that @ivybean104, the sweet lady from Bradford, England who was said to be the oldest Twitter user, had been sick.
Pat, Ivy’s caregiver at the Hillside Manor, had been keeping her followers updated on her status. We knew that she had been taken to the hospital. On July 14, Pat tweeted,
“I have to keep you all up to date or ivy will have some strong words to say when she gets
And on July 15:
“she has got yellow jaundice”
A couple of days later, Pat told us that the staff is very good at sneaking things into the hospital and that they had managed to get fish and chips, Ivy’s favorite dinner, past the nurses.
Some days later, she was sent back to the home to recover.
It was when I sat down at my computer last Wednesday morning to check my blog stats that I knew something was not right.
My visitor numbers had spiked and the most viewed page was my post of June 3, 2009. The title: The Word’s Oldest Twitterer: Social Media Lessons from @ivybean104.
I pulled up Ivy’s Twitter profile and read 8 short words from Pat, dated Wednesday, July 28, 2010:
“ivy passed away peacefully at 12.08 this morning”
Why we loved Ivy Bean
She was honest, open, caring. Everyone’s grandma.
And because you always knew where she was coming from, you felt that you could almost trust her with your life.
She had that rare combination of humility and compassion.
On November 19, 2009, she tweeted:
“I never thought anyone would be interested in me I still don’t understand why they are”
She wasn’t perfect—and she admitted it. She knew it was hard to be good. About her favorite game, Connect 4, she once tweeted:
“I never cheat, well, maybe sometimes I do, but I will try not to today.”
She seemed to want to chronicle her days, almost as if she was keeping a diary in picture book form.
Once she posted a photo on Twitter of herself, head on pillow, napping in the back seat of the car that was taking her to meet Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of England.
She labeled it “having a nap on the way.”
Before she met Brown, she tweeted:
“Gordon Brown is no Peter Andre but it will still be nice to meet him.”
(UK pop star Peter Andre visited Ivy and sang for her. She immediately became his number one fan and insisted that the photo of her and Andre become her Twitter profile pic.)
After she returned, in two separate tweets, she said of the visit,
“i used the prime minister’s private toilet in his study…I don’t know if Gordon usually leaves the toilet seat up but it was down when I sat on it.”
Ivy cared deeply about her friends at the home. When an 89-year-old Hillside Manor resident got lost last November, she tweeted:
“…we have had a stressful morning Kathleen one of the ladies went missing…”
And just 5 minutes later:
“she was found safe and well having a cup of tea next door…so all is well and dandy”
A role model for the aging
With credit to the staff and administration of Hillside Manor, Ivy stayed active up to her last days.
Instead of shunning technology, she embraced it. She joined Facebook at the age of 102, but left when she had 25,000 pending friend requests that were denied because she had ‘reached her limit.’
Not one to give up, she turned to Twitter. A guy from the Geek Squad came to the home to help her set up her Twitter account.
She got the hang of it quickly.
As she started telling her friends at the Manor about Twitter, the one laptop in the home became in short supply and the wait time was long.
That was when someone donated 5 more laptops to the home so Ivy’s friends Norma and Mabel could tweet, too.
(When Norma, who Ivy introduced to Twitter, passed away last August, Ivy tweeted:
“it’s a very sad day today my friend norma who I went to blackpool with died suddenly last night god bless her”
And later, in childlike innocence:
“Norma was our friend who passed away last month so we named a cat after her”)
She didn’t think that sports and games were only for the young and loved to cheer on her favorite football team, Manchester United.
In June 2009, Ivy competed in Hillside Manor’s Over 75′s Olympics.
She took first place in Frisbee throwing and received her gold medal from the Lord Mayor of Bradford. She posted the video on Twitter.
Being on Twitter helped her not only share her life with the world, but stay curious and interested in others.
She met someone who was working with homeless kids and families and was very interested in that. She tweeted with people who also loved the show Deal or No Deal. Sent wishes to some of her followers on their birthdays.
She was focused outward, not inward and so she didn’t obsess about her own ailments, instead turning her attention on others.
Not a bad philosophy for a 104-year-old. And she lived it right up to the day she died.
I want to be like Ivy Bean when I grow up.