A North Carolina matriarch celebrated her 100th birthday over the weekend with a drive-thru party. Julia Lee Kelly has lived to see six generations of her family making 173 descendants in total.
She has five children, 30 grandchildren, 88 great-grandchildren, 48 great-great-grand children and one great-great-great grandchild, one of her great-granddaughters, Kelly Oakley said.
The original birthday celebrations had to be altered due to the restrictions on the number of people allowed at public gatherings in North Carolina due to the novel coronavirus. Nonetheless, not even the coronavirus could stop the party.
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“No way you can let a century go by and not celebrate,” Kelley’s great-granddaughter, Kelley Oakley said.
“We didn’t want too many people too close to her … that was the reason for the drive-thru,” Kelley’s daughter, Catherine Williams added.
For her improvised centennial birthday celebrations, Kelly donned a sash, tiara and customised T-shirt marking her milestone birthday. “Thank the Lord for allowing me to make it to 100,” Kelley told CNN.
There was a cute set up for the birthday celebrant under a tent with balloons and other decorations outside her home in Franklinton, North Carolina on August 8, around 3pm.
The cars began to drive by filled with family, friends, church members and old colleagues to share birthday wishes who also had their card decorated.
“They blew the horns. They had their cars decorated. They had balloons out the window. And my little cousins got the cards for her and put (them) in a box,” Oakley said.
They were expecting people to show up because the celebration was not a surprise, however, according to Oakley, Kelly was still surprised “to see how many people loved her. And I think she was surprised by how much money she got,” Oakley said.
“I didn’t count, it was a lot though,” Oakley added. “We stayed out there for a long time.”
Kelly was overwhelmed with happiness even though they could not get too close to comfort due to public health measures.
“I just felt like hollering and crying or shouting,” Kelley said. “I was so happy to see my friends, family and church members.”
For such a large family, they are very close as they have family reunions every year. Occasionally, they also get together for dinner or just get together “just to see each other.”
Everyone absolutely adores Kelly and she receives a lot of visits from her family as well. “Grandma, everybody always checks on her because she really doesn’t go anywhere except maybe to get her hair fixed or go to the doctor,” Oakley said.
“Kelly is still independent looking at her age and she is thankful for it. She still loves to grow her flowers outside, cook, bake her cakes from scratch. She still cleans. She still does everything, except drive. She’s a healthy little ox,” Oakley said.
She also attributes her longevity to the grace of God.