LYNN – For Edith Maly, the “Angel Among Us” lives on the second floor of her building at 300 Lynn Shore Drive.
Maly, who turns 79 on March 8, is a retired physician who underwent a successful kidney transplant a little over 13 years ago. She said she had been fine ever since, but her health had declined a bit lately.
In November, Maly – who came to the United States from Riga, Latvia 43 years ago – started feeling poorly, so she went to her doctor.
After taking a COVID-19 test on Friday, Dec. 4, her test came back positive that Monday. She was taken by ambulance to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where doctors treated her with the intravenous antiviral drug, remdesivir.
“A lot of people are not so lucky,” said Maly, who was discharged after five days.
However, she was weak and her symptoms lingered. Maly, who lives alone on the 10th floor, said she couldn’t walk well. On top of everything, she had to quarantine for 14 days, which meant she couldn’t go shopping for food.
As luck would have it, she knew a Jewish mother and son who lived downstairs, Lia Levin and her son, Roman, 37, who arrived in the U.S. with his family from Moscow when he was 3.
Maly said his mother called to check in on her and Roman Levin was listening. A “tech guy” who wound up unemployed because of the pandemic, he was scared for Maly’s health.
“‘Edith, what do you need?’” Maly said Levin asked her. He called Stop & Shop, which took a grocery order over the phone, and he left the groceries by her door. He made her chicken soup from scratch and also left this by her door. Levin had started cooking during the lockdowns.
“I made a nice cod fish with mashed potatoes and veggies,” Levin said. “Something for her soul.” A few days later, his mother cooked Maly some turkey meatballs.
But that was not the end of Roman Levin’s help.
Maly wondered how she might receive her COVID-19 relief stimulus check, so she called the senior center, but they could not help her. She spoke to Levin about her dilemma, and he was able to help her over the phone, setting up her IRS account, plugging in her information, and arranging for her check to be deposited into her bank account.
“She was so happy and excited,” Levin said.
At her request, and with some of what she received, Roman bought her a used iPad, which he taught her how to use.
“She was off to the races,” Roman Levin said.
She ran into another problem when her car’s handicapped placard expired at the end of December, something she had forgotten to renew during her convalescence.
After the New Year, she drove to Saugus, parked in a handicapped space, went into a store, and came out to find a $300 ticket.
“I cried. I didn’t know what to do. This is half of my stimulus check,” she said. She again called her downstairs neighbors for help.
“‘Edith, don’t worry,’” she said Levin told her. He told her to write a letter about what happened, telling Saugus officials that her not renewing her placard was an honest mistake. Levin submitted her appeal online and about two weeks later, she received an email that the ticket had been dismissed.
“I was so happy for her. She did her work and I said, ‘Let’s appeal it and see what happens,’” Levin said.
“How do you like that, that’s Roman,” Maly said. “He’s a mensch, a mensch,” she said, defining the term as “it’s like a person you put on a pedestal. He’s an exceptional man.”
“I was raised by a helping family and you have to do good, you have to do nice and you have to have hope,” Levin said.
Levin said he is also paying it forward for the kindness Maly showed his family several years ago.
Levin’s grandparents, both veterans of World War II, emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1990s to help raise his younger brother and him, leaving their life in Russia behind and arriving with just two suitcases between them.
“They loved us so much,” he said.
Levin said Maly helped them when his grandmother, Feiga Babushkina, had to move out of her nursing home in the Randolph-Canton area as it was ending its Russian program.
When Maly learned of the family’s plight, she told them to call the Jesmond Nursing Home in Nahant after she learned they had an open bed. The location proved to be much more convenient.
“Edith Maly just brought my grandmother back home,” Levin said. He was able to see her almost every day, instead of once a week. She died in 2019 at age 97.
Edith Maly said Levin’s grandmother thrived in her new setting because he visited her so often, bringing her both “natural food and spiritual food.”
“So, Edith really did a lot. I’m so thankful for her,” Levin said. “She’s always trying to help everyone out.”
“Look, no one gets through life without helping someone,” Levin said.