NC man celebrates 102nd birthday with family visiting senior care facility window
Posted July 13, 2020 3:21 p.m. EDT
Wake Forest, N.C. — Birthday celebrations during the pandemic can be challenging, especially when a loved one lives in a long-term care facility, where visitors aren't always allowed. But Jerry Rauch's family wasn't about to let his 102nd birthday go by without making it memorable.
His family, including his teenage great granddaughters, Nina Simone and Makayla, came to visit him at Cadence Senior Living in Wake Forest.
"Being able to have a great grandfather in my life that is 102 years old is truly special and unique. He is full of energy, laughter and love. We are all blessed," said Nina Simone.
Makayla said, "Because he lived in Florida for all these years, we didn't have an opportunity to spend time with him, so now that he's here, it's special to be able to celebrate his 102nd birthday – even if it's through a window due to COVID."
They weren't allowed to go inside and give him a hug, so they created large, bright signs to express their love and joy for his milestone birthday.
'We love you!' read one sign. Another read, '102 years young!'
Rauch wore a special birthday shirt with a message: 'I'm 99, what's your excuse?' He had clearly marked out the 99, adding 100, then 101 and finally 102, as if he has worn the T-shirt for each successive birthday.
Next year, perhaps he can find room to add 103 to his birthday shirt.
A look back on 102 years of life
Rauch was born in 1918, on the tail end of WWI. For most of his life, he wanted to serve in the military.
His daughter Patricia, who lives in Wake Forest, shared fond memories of her father, saying, "He wanted to serve in the army so badly that he tried to enlist 3 times, but to no avail. In fact, he was deferred from serving in WWII because of his job – he was needed to build and repair machinery for the war.
Rauch has 3 children, 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. He has a love for radio controlled model planes, the NY Yankees and corvettes.
"I still can see the NY Yankees games on an old black and white TV," said his daughter.
Sadly, Rauch's wife Mary was unable to attend his birthday celebration. They each live in separate long-term care facilities, states apart from each other. But they speak on the phone often.
Though a pandemic and a window pane is standing between Rauch and his family, they said they are happy to be able to celebrate 102 years of life and create a lasting memory they will all treasure.