Chris Salvatore and Norma Cook are the unlikeliest and best of roommates. The 31-year-old actor and singer and his 89-year-old “adopted grandma” have celebrated New Year’s Eve together after moving in together earlier in 2016, and continue to celebrate life by sharing their story about the unshakable power of human decency.
Chris lives across the hall from Norma’s apartment in West Hollywood where she has spent the last 30 years. They first became close five years ago when Norma invited him over for champagne – her favorite drink – and it wasn’t long before they developed a special bond. When the young actor told her he was gay, Norma was extremely supportive – she would recount stories about numerous friendships with homosexual people she’d developed during the course of her life and would encourage Chris.
When Norma, who has leukemia, had to be taken in for treatment last year, Chris realized that her Social Security checks barely covers her rent, let alone the cost of the care she needed. He acted quickly, and quickly managed to raise $50,000 through a GoFundMe campaign.
To make most of the funds at their disposal he invited Norma and her cat Hermes to move in with him accross the hall, which Norma “could not be happier” to do, calling Chris “the grandson she never had”.
The perfect roommates
They have since become inseparable and Chris has been documenting their life together on social media. Norma, who he has described as a “sassy and stubborn” fighter, has been continuously defying the odds. When she was hospitalized doctors predicted that she wouldn’t live past the Christmas holidays, but it seems like she is thriving in the new arrangement with her young roommate.
“The nurses and doctors told her that it would be a miracle if she lived past the holidays, so the fact that she’s still thriving is just a really great thing,” Salvatore told TODAY. “She’s doing great. If you could see her right now, she looks so cute on the couch with her feet propped up. She just hangs out on my couch and watches TV.”
Chris Salvatore and Norma Cook with Hermes, Cook’s beloved cat
On most days Chris cooks for Norma and she teases him that if he didn’t make it as an actor he could always earn a living working as a chef.
They have a daily routine which involves watching the news and they haven’t given up on their tradition of drinking champagne and eating peanuts.
Chris shares photos and videos of their endeavors under the hashtag #myneighbornorma with the world. When sharing his story with TIME he said:
“My life has changed forever because of Norma and what happened. It gave me hope again. I’m forever grateful for Norma because I feel like I’ll carry this with me for the rest of my life”.