99-year-old celebrates birthday COVID-style with window party
With many senior care facilities still restricting visitors, a group of family and friends gathered at the Maple Wood facility in south Springfield on Thursday to celebrate Gwen Northington's 99th birthday.
The Clinton native spent most of her life in Springfield working for City Utilities and Zales and also enjoyed renovating houses and reselling them which she did well into her 80's.
She has three children, seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.
When asked if she's planning on making it to 100?
"I probably will. I'm too ornery," she replied.
One of Gwen's friends, Katie Mitchell, ran through some of the historical moments in the year Northington was born.
"Women finally had the right to vote the year you were born in 1921," she said. "The first World Series baseball game was actually aired on the radio for the very first time that September after you came along in June and the first Atlantic City Miss America pageant was held as well. And from then on, you've been living history. You are a national treasure."
"Am I that old? It doesn't seem like it," Gwen replied when asked how it felt to be 99. Pointing to the well-wishers outside her window she said, "These people are probably a lot younger but they seem more like my age."
Another friend, Robert Wallace, knelt at the window and gave some heartfelt words of praise to Gwen.
"It's such a blessing to know you and at 99 years-old, you've given me so much to look forward to," he said. "And you've given me so much to live by.
Wallace explained that Gwen was the mother of his best-friend through high school, Doug.
"When we became best friends, she became my mother at that point," Wallace said. "And at this point in my life at 66 years-old, she is the only living mother that I have. So that is exactly how much she means to me. I admire anyone, especially a mother, that has lived that long because she has given, given, given so much of herself. She leaves such a great legacy."
Gwen's daughter, Martha Ivie, said that while the birthday celebration was wonderful, it certainly wasn't the same as being inside talking and hugging.
"We feel bad for her that she's in this situation," she said. "It's been very difficult because she doesn't understand that the whole world has changed since COVID-19 has happened."
Gwen certainly understood that something was askew though.
"I don't know that anybody else has had a birthday party out the window," she said with a laugh. "Can you imagine the world this way with them outside and me inside? Isn't that strange? What kind of world do you think this is anyway?"
Yeah. We're all thinking the same thing Gwen.
Happy 99th Birthday!! Let's hope things are better by your 100th!!