Hope family celebrates mom’s 85th while keeping their distance

People are getting creative with birthday wave trains, window greetings and more

Family say hello to Vera Murphy from outside her window. Murphy celebrated 85 on April 8. Submitted photo Family say hello to Vera Murphy from outside her window. Murphy celebrated 85 on April 8. Submitted photo

With strict rules about how close you can get to others, people in Hope are finding different ways of celebrating their loved ones’ birthdays.

Vera Murphy has been in Hope since 1954, but this is the first time she’s had to celebrate in self-isolation.

Residing with her daughter Frances ‘Bubby’ Berthiaume, Murphy is a mother of six children and a very active community volunteer. “I hope when I’m her age I have a quarter of her energy,” Berthiaume said. The family has been self-isolating and keeping busy learning from Murphy how to do things the old-fashioned way with cooking and crafts, as well as spring cleaning and keeping entertained with their pets.

When it came to Murphy’s 85th birthday, the plan was originally to rent a hall and do a classic birthday bash. With strict social distancing and self-isolation measures urged by the province, this plan was off the table.

But Berthiaume found ways to celebrate her mom in style – she set up a table full of 100 sunflower plants that she urged passerby to take one of while they honked or hollered a birthday greeting to her mom.

“I tried keeping it a secret from my mom, which is really hard to do because we’re in the same house and we’re all on lockdown,” she laughed. Berthiaume also had to sneak around and put up hearts in their window.

Family came by (outside her window) and visited during the day, then the Berthiaume and mom had a good dinner and a specially-made celiac-friendly cake.

“She was overwhelmed, she was a couple of times getting choked up and she was so happy and she found the world amazing because she’s like ‘All I did was turn 85” and all these people were wishing her well and stopping and saying happy birthday,” Berthiaume said. Some complete strangers even dropped off gifts, cards and balloons. “She just wanted to thank everybody.”

And Berthiaume witnessed how her working hard to spark joy for her mother, actually brought joy to several others in the neighbourhood. “Oddly enough it really perked up people in the community too. I noticed that during the day, one woman took pictures of the table and she posted it on Hope BC Rants and Raves and said “What a wonderful idea, way to go neighbours,” she said.

Eighty years Vera’s junior, Elias celebrated turning five on Friday with a ‘wave train’ organized by his mom Laina Rodney. After putting a call out to the community to drive by their home Friday afternoon, they had around 45 people ‘drop by,’ to wish Elias happy birthday. “He had a blast, and said it was the best birthday ever,’ she told the Hope Standard.


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A decorated window in honour of Vera Murphy, who turned 85 April 8. Submitted photo

Very Murphy’s children couldn’t see her in person for her birthday, so they found other ways to mark her birthday. Submitted

Vera Murphy’s children put dozens of sunflower plants outside of their mother’s home, inviting passerby to wish her happy birthday with a shout or a honk and plant the sunflower in her honour. Submitted photo

Five-year-old Elias had around 45 cars come by his home in Silver Creek to wish him a happy birthday. Submitted photo

Murphy’s celiac-friendly birthday cake, with a little creativity on the part of her daughter Frances “Bubby” Berthiaume. Submitted photo

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