GLENVIEW, Ill. -- The small studio apartment that Betty Maute now calls home is filled with pictures. There are snapshots of her children, her grandchildren and a framed portrait of the Ferris wheel her family once operated in Chicago. There's a picture of her husband, William, gone more than two years now. There's an autographed picture of Steve McMichael, the former Chicago Bears defensive tackle who recently visited Belmont Village, the assisted living center where Maute lives.
And then there is the Cubs collection. Pennants and posters on the wall. Cubs Beanie Babies and stuffed animals on her bed. Autographed baseballs from Billy Williams and Moises Alou and a commemorative Wrigley Field brick on her nightstand.
Although there are those whose fandom recedes in the later stages of life, Maute's passion for the team grows only stronger with age. To put it simply: Since her husband died, the Cubs help get her out of bed each morning. "They give me something to look forward to," she says. "Now that I've lost my husband, I have to make a life for myself. And I choose to make that life with my family and the Cubs."
Anytime Betty's team is playing, everyone at Belmont Village knows where to find Betty -- in her room in front of the TV. Day game, night game, West Coast game it doesn't matter. "We had a game on the West Coast that ended at 1:30," Maute says, "and the next morning at breakfast, everyone was asking me, 'Betty, did you stay up and watch that game?' And I was like, 'You bet I did.'
"I seem to dwell on the games a bit more because I am alone a lot," she says. "I mean, there are people here all the time, but you don't get many people my age who are really avid fans. And I get into it.
"I am waiting for a knock on the door one day saying, 'Betty, why don't you tone it down?' But fortunately, I think I have some people that are a little deaf on both sides of me."
The only way to describe Maute's fandom would be: eternal optimist. She didn't get upset in the collapse of '69, nor did she fall apart during the NLCS in 2003. She's the ultimate "Wait 'til next year" Cubs fan. And for anyone who doesn't share that optimism, for anyone who has given up on the team over the years, she has a message. "You're not a true Cubs fan," she says. "Because you have to not give up on them. You do that for your children. Why not the Cubs?"
Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.