When I think of Home, it is here

102 Reasons to Celebrate

For Mary Dorman, The Atrium is “home.” Just ask her granddaughter, Sarah, and she will tell you all about the love her grandmother has for Mercy Housing’s The Atrium at College Town. “If I could snatch her from Mercy Housing, I would have a long time ago,” Sarah explains. “But she’s like, ‘all of my friends are here and I’m not going anywhere.’”

Mary Dorman was born in Alabama, the third of five children. Married to John Wesley, who served in the military, Mary moved to the Atlanta area following his death to be closer to her daughter and family.

She has lived at The Atrium for the past 30 years. Yes, she was a resident back when the property was known as “John O. Chiles,” which was originally constructed in 1965 (she moved back into the building following its refurbishment and transition to Mercy Housing).

We recently sat down with Ms. Dorman and Sarah to talk about her life, turning 102, and any life advice she would share with us.

Mary Dorman sitting down

Did you know?

Mary Dorman is known as the “Queen of Coca-Cola.” She loves Coca-Cola. As Sarah describes it, “I really should have bought stock in their company!” In addition, Ms. Dorman is a big fan of the TV show, “Matlock.” But don’t be surprised to find her watching westerns and game shows too.

Turning 102 hasn’t slowed her down too much. While she no longer participates in the onsite wellness programs, Ms. Mary goes downstairs every night between 5 and 7 pm and loves stopping on the second floor to watch people play cards. And she rarely misses a party. In fact, she takes her cell phone everywhere she goes. “I literally had to get this lady a cell phone so I could keep up with her,” Sarah chuckles. “I thought I could maybe get her a sitter, but she said emphatically, ‘what sitter?! You can just get me a cell phone!’ And she never leaves her home without it.”


A Family Affair

Mary Dorman posing with family

After talking to Mary and Sarah, it is clear that they share a special bond. “As long as I can remember, I’ve always lived with her,” explains Sarah. “She’s very independent. She’s very caring and will give you the shirt off her back. And she’s always been that way.” Grandmother and granddaughter are so close that they can complete each other’s sentences and break out in laughter just looking at each other.

“She’s always put others before herself, and I think that’s the part of myself I got from her. I’m the same way and it’s something I also see in my kids.”

Each of her grandchildren visits with Ms. Mary one day each week. For Sarah, it’s Wednesdays, while for her brother it’s Sundays. And her brother’s girlfriend even comes twice a week.

Let’s Eat Cake!

Ms Dorman

It’s not every day that you get to celebrate someone turning 102 years old. So it was no surprise that the staff at The Atrium had already set the wheels in motion to honor her in a special way.

When Sarah was approached about throwing a birthday party for her grandmother she initially thought, “Oh my God! This is unreal! There aren’t too many places you can go where people really care for seniors.”

With her family, close friends, and Mercy Housing staff gathered, Ms. Dorman was surrounded by love and laughter as those who know her best shared stories while creating new memories throughout the afternoon. Georgia State Representative, Stacy Evans, issued a proclamation in Ms. Dorman’s honor, which was hand-delivered by Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who read it during the party. And what’s a birthday party without a birthday cake (or in this case, cakes!)? “Nothing Bundt Cakes,” made sure there was plenty of cake to go around.

“I want to thank everybody at Mercy Housing for the birthday party. It’s given me peace of mind to know that people here care about her and watch out for her. She’s ‘mama’ and I’m just so thankful for the group of people here.”

Before the conversation ended, we asked Ms. Mary Dorman what advice she would give on living a happy life. Her answer was simple, “Happy is where you are and what you do.”

Well said, Ms. Mary. Well said. And Happy Birthday!