Woman celebrates turning 103 years old, COVID-19 style

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — It was never a question of if, but how. How to celebrate Elizabeth Hill’s 103rd birthday, when her own health is fading and everyone else’s is uncertain due to a pandemic?

“I told them to stay at home this year,” said Hill.

Elizabeth’s daughter, Connie Hill, initially figured her mother’s celebration would be limited to just phone calls, but then she conspired with Elizabeth’s AsceraCare Hospice Social Worker Rhonda Davis. They determined, if Elizabeth couldn’t go to a party, the party would have to come to Elizabeth.

Friends and family members across the country submitted birthday greetings via video, along with Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, musician Diana Ladio and a few familiar faces at NewsChannel 5.

“103, how awesome is that?” said NewsChannel 5 Senior Meteorologist Lelan Statom in his video.

Elizabeth’s church, Madison Street United Methodist Church in Clarksville, also serenaded Elizabeth with the Happy Birthday song.

While she loved each greeting, the messages that meant the most, came from family.

“You were the only one who could call Dan, Danny. His heart grew each time he heard it,” said Elizabeth’s sister-in-law.

Elizabeth lost her brother Danny, a few months ago. Due to the pandemic, she wasn’t able to say goodbye or attend his funeral. “He’s my baby brother,” Elizabeth told us, as she wiped away tears.

Her daughter Connie says, this birthday was just as special as an in-person party. “Her mind is good, and she recognizes voices, and she can reminisce. It’s fantastic,” she said.

After all, it was never a question of if, but how? How could they show her how much she’s loved? It’s safe to say, it was through nearly 30 minutes of messages and moments that Elizabeth could watch on her special day.

“I’m just so happy to have her here,” said Connie.

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