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Beloved 86-Year-Old Waitress Decides To Hang Up Her Apron

Regulars send off this 43-year diner fixture with a farewell bash.

Sylvia Smith has served many a customer in her day. And at age 86, she’s decided to call it a day. She started her job at the Plainview Diner in Long Island back on its opening day in February of 1973. So guests there have never known the diner without her, and she’s seen many of them grow up before her eyes.

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NewslinQ/YouTube

“I’d say a year ago, that’s when everything caught up with me,” Smith told Newsday. “I used to be able to get up, feel energetic. Now I don’t. I don’t have the energy I used to have. I had a close relationship with a lot of my customers. After 43 years, you get to know people. I was like family with them. I’ll cry a little bit, but I’ll accept… that I had a good life. And I have a lot of people to thank for that.”

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KLTV

Life hasn’t always been easy for Smith. Newsday notes she legally separated from her husband in 1985 after 30 years of marriage. They were never divorced, and he passed away about 10 years ago. She has one daughter, Linda, who is 54 and disabled and still lives at home. Smith had a heart attack in 1976 and missed two months of work, but came right back. Her house burned down four years ago, so she and her daughter moved into a trailer. While the rebuild was underway, along came Superstorm Sandy. So it hasn’t been all fun for the plucky Smith.

Through all of her trials and tribulations, her customers have always been there for her.

Indeed, according to Hot Topics, she was like family to them. Current owner John Papavasilopoulos gave her a cruise to Cozumel and Key West for her 70th birthday. For her last shift on Oct. 21, all of her friends threw her a party and they danced to Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock.”

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Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Here’s more on the life and diner times of Sylvia Smith (who is headed on another cruise, this time to the Caribbean, courtesy of Rachael Ray!)