Ricky Syers has been entertaining people, grownups and children alike, for years in New York City's Washington Square Park. He and his marionettes are local celebrities. However, one special lady makes his world complete.
Once a fiery, independent activist, 85-year-old Doris Diether, lost her voice in an accident but she never lost her spirit.
Being a great fan of Syers and his stringed friends, she frequented the park, and they struck up a friendship.
"One day she comes up to me and whispers, 'I have something for you,'" Syers recalls.
She gave him a scrapbook full of old newspaper clippings and articles on the marionettes she had written about back in 1974. The clippings included a recent piece someone had written on Syers' work which she had cut out and saved for him.
The gesture floored him and created an instant bond between the two.
Months after their friendship began, Diether started to speak again and is back to her previous self.
To honor their special connection, Syers has made a marionette based on her personality called Doris.
"She is the classic, everyone's grandmother," he says about his friend’s doppelganger.
And Diether couldn't be any happier, or prouder for that matter. "She walks around the park, she tells everyone about her puppet," Syers says. "She's got this whole new breath of life in her. All this time me knowing her, she just whispers."
Then one day she called him on the phone and he couldn’t believe the woman on the other side, speaking ever so normally was none other than his friend Doris.
"It was Doris! For the first time ever I got to hear Doris' voice," Syers exclaimed of her recovery after undergoing surgery on her vocal cords last week.
Their friendship is now known far and wide. So much so that the pair was not only featured in the Humans of New York series but made it to their book edition.
Syers recalls the time he was asked to attend the HONY book signing and asked Diether to join him.
"I said, 'Hey Doris, wanna go on a date?'" Syers recalls with a laugh. "Sure enough she just smiled from ear to ear."