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Family celebrates 105th birthday through window

NOW: Family celebrates 105th birthday through window

PLYMOUTH, Ind. -- The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many milestones are celebrated. In Plymouth, a family got together Sunday afternoon for a window birthday party as Kathryn White turned 105-years-old.

White is a resident at Pilgrim Manor, which has been on lockdown since March.

While there may have been a window separating them, she was surrounded by her kids, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and little sister for a surprise birthday party.

And the novel coronavirus isn’t the first pandemic she’s lived through. White was just three-years-old during the 1918 flu pandemic – none of her family contracted the illness and she’s lucky to say the same so far during the coronavirus pandemic.

But still, Pilgrim Manor – like many other senior living centers – stopped allowing visitors in order to follow the state’s guidelines and keep their residents safe. But, that also means White hasn’t been in the same room as her family for months.

“She wants us to come in, she misses us, and my kids will wave and blow her kisses but she really wants to hug them and I’m sure she misses the physical touch from her family,” said Julie Briggs, White’s youngest granddaughter.

Briggs – along with the other grandchildren – worked with the nursing home to plan the surprise party.

“We usually always do something,” said Kathy Robers, White’s eldest granddaughter. “We alternated before; one family would do one year and one family would do the other. And this year we’re like ‘105 is a lot’ and it’s difficult having her in there where we can’t get in and see her." 

While it was a special reunion for White, it wasn’t without confusion, as she doesn’t quite understand why they can’t come inside. 

“I tried to type something up and then put it at the window and then the nurses read it,” said Robers. “I would always say ‘This is why we can’t come inside’ because the first time I tried it that didn’t really work out, she kept yelling ‘Let them in, let them in.’”

Although White is missing that close contact with her family, they’re confident she’ll come out of this on the other side just like she did with the flu pandemic. 

“She said something to us over the phone… She wishes us all a long and healthy life, like she’s had.”

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