The longer I live in New Bedford, the more I see the good in people.

The Whaling City sometimes gets a bad rap, but I've noticed a lot of decent human beings who truly make a difference in the community and the lives of others.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, I stopped by Top Shelf Bar and Grill on Acushnet Avenue for an early lunch. After I finished eating, an older gentleman, his wife and his daughter came walking through the door.

They were there to celebrate this man's birthday and this family was in for quite the surprise.

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Eddie Souza was born and raised in New Bedford and has been going to Top Shelf religiously since the pandemic. Little did he know when he sat down with his family what the staff had in store for him.

Bartender Heather Ferreira tied two balloons to Souza's chair. Together, the balloons read "98". All at once, the staff and customers sang "Happy Birthday." Souza's face lit up.

When asked what the secret was to his nearly century-long life, he replied, "Good Portuguese genes and puzzles."

Souza is also getting ready to celebrate his 73rd wedding anniversary with his wife on Oct. 14. She, too, will be 98 come January 2024.

It just goes to show that restaurants such as Top Shelf go above and beyond for their customers and don't get the recognition they truly deserve. I'm glad I was there to witness such kindness.

Before I left, Souza's final words of advice to anyone reading this were simple:

"Enjoy life."

By the looks of it, it's clear that Souza has enjoyed his to the fullest.

Happy Birthday, Eddie!

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