By LAURA WEICK A COVID-19 survivor recently celebrated her 105th birthday in style by virtually spending time with her family - as well as being crowned the "Valentine's Day Queen" at her nursing home. On Feb. 15, three days before her actual birthday on
A COVID-19 survivor recently celebrated her 105th birthday in style by virtually spending time with her family – as well as being crowned the “Valentine’s Day Queen” at her nursing home.
On Feb. 15, three days before her actual birthday on the 18th, about 20 relatives met on a Zoom call to celebrate Carmella Spicola’s birthday. Guests called in from all over the country, including Hawaii, Florida, Arizona and Rhode Island.
“With the pandemic, the only outside person that she has seen is me,” said Carmella’s daughter, Camille Spicola. “For the longest time, she couldn’t even see anybody when there were no visitations. So I think to be able to see everyone, and for them to see her, was good all the way around.”
Late last year, Carmella’s family and friends weren’t sure if she’d make it to the party. That’s because in December, Carmella tested positive for COVID-19.
Camille said that in early December her mother had a fever and a cough. The staff at The Cedars, Carmella’s nursing home, quickly scheduled her for a COVID-19 test that ultimately came back positive.
Luckily, Carmella quickly recovered, and her symptoms were mild overall. According to Camille, Carmella does not have any severe underlying conditions, which Camille thinks may be why her mother did so well. Considering that several residents of The Cedars have passed away from COVID-19, according to its activity director Greg Gillis, Carmella’s strength is all the sweeter.
“She’s doing better than she was doing before COVID, which is crazy,” Gillis said. “She’s eating better, she’s more alert at times. She’s a warrior.”
A Rhode Island native, Carmella loved to cook and bake, and Camille said her specialty was her signature wine and pepper biscuits.
These days, Carmella enjoys going outside and listening to music at The Cedars’ many events. Greg said she is close to her nurses and aides and is very meticulous about how she looks. Although he explained Carmella doesn’t talk much, he said that she understands what is going on and is more comprehending of technology than some other residents.
“She always had a pleasant personality,” Camille said. She’s not one to get ruffled. Some people are very nervous and get upset about things. She just had a way about her that made her likable by everyone. Maybe that’s part of why she’s lived so long.”
Carmella’s genial personality was why she was elected The Cedars’ Valentine’s Day Queen this year. This is an annual event the facility holds that includes a candlelight luncheon and love song sing-alongs. Although this year’s event looked a bit different since everyone wore masks and was socially distanced, Carmella’s election was still a no-brainer.
But at the end of the day, seeing her family again after months of isolation, even virtually, was worth more than any crown for Carmella.
“She loved it, she was smiling the whole time,” Gillis said. “I think she thought seeing all of her family at once was incredible, I think she enjoyed that more than the Valentine’s Day queen. She’s done FaceTime but never Zoom before, so to be able to see them all together was pretty amazing.”