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A new type of birthday party: Two Yoopers celebrate 98+ years with parades, window gatherings

Over 20 family and friends stand outside, holding birthday signs outside Ida JuidiciÕs window at Brookridge Heights on May 8. Juidici celebrated her 98th birthday with a window visit and cake. (Photo courtesy of Brookridge Heights)

MARQUETTE — On the morning of May 13, Verna Holmgren was sitting at her home in Ishpeming celebrating her 99th birthday with her two daughters.

Holmgren’s plans were simple and relaxed: spend time with her children and grandchildren, eat cake and lemon pie and reflect on decades of memories. But then her daughters insisted their mother put on some lipstick.

“I said, ‘Oh, I just don’t feel like wearing lipstick today,'” Holmgren said, with a chuckle, not knowing that a drive-by parade of 25 cars would soon ascend near her front door.

So Holmgren applied her lipstick and her daughters teased her by saying: “Come look out the door, someone has a new car.” Holmgren didn’t think much of it until she peeked her head out the door to find cars lined up all the way down the street and around the corner.

“I never expected to be celebrated by cars,” she said.

Though Holmgren said some things are creeping up on her with her health, Holmgren hopes to swing a golf club this summer, if the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

When it comes to aging with grace, Holmgren noted that it’s all about the right balance of diet and exercise. Even at 99, she wakes up at 7:30 a.m. five times a week and completes a full program of Body Electric on WNMU-TV PBS.

“As long as you’re going to be breathing, you want to be able to be walking and moving,” she added with a giggle.

Id’s 98th celebrated in style

Birthdays used to be a day filled with cake, hugs and opening gifts. But even though certain guidelines have been put in place to protect older adults, friends and family still honor their loved one’s birthdays, even if it’s through a window.

When Brookridge Heights resident Ida Juidici, formally from Gwinn, turned 98 on May 8, over 20 friends and family came to stop by her window and wish her a day of joy with signs and salutations.

“Ida’s 98th birthday party was amazing. What a wonderful opportunity for friends and family to gather and celebrate this incredible birthday milestone,” Brookridge Heights Executive Director Jennifer Huetter said. “Many family and friends gathered to celebrate with her.”

Feelings of positivity and warmth left Juidici “delightfully surprised,” and seeing those familiar faces kept her smiling the entire time as each person took their turn wishing her a happy birthday, Huetter said.

“It’s hard for families to not be face-to-face and hug their loved one during this time. Brookridge is thrilled that we can play a part in bringing families together to help them have meaningful connections,” she said, adding, “Our memory support director, Brian Gaudreau and memory support specialist, Kim Specker really went out of their way to work with the family and make this very special for Ida.”

With Juidici’s 98th birthday, it allowed for people to connect with their family members and celebrate a “very special milestone for a very special lady,” Huetter said.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at jjahfetson@miningjournal.net

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