THE WASHINGTON POST – Victorine Creavalle has a life full of birthdays.
The eight days that her children were born and the 22 birthdays of her grandchildren add up to a whole month of birthdays, to start. She has 51 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, and she calls every one of them on their birthdays, too.
Add all the friends whose birthdays she has kept written in a tidy little book, and all the spouses of her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and Creavalle has somebody to call and sing Happy birthday to almost every day of the year.
Last Sunday, the woman of so many birthdays marked her own for the 100th time.
And many of her 83 descendants gathered on Zoom and in cars outside her Maryland home to wish a happy birthday to the woman who never forgets theirs.
“Lots of love and kisses, Mom.” “Happy birthday, Granny!” “Hi, Auntie Vicky! Happy birthday!” “Queen Victorine!” more than 45 participants on the Zoom call said, filling the video frames with all the names that Creavalle has responded to in her life.
Over and over, Creavalle responded: “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” And sometimes: “I love you. I love you.”
She wore a sparkly sash and a tiara that said “100”, and balloons bobbed behind her head. In the video feeds, she saw her family wearing birthday hats and T-shirts they had made with her face on them.
Outside the window of the Springdale home where Creavalle lives with her daughter, Joy Creavalle, even more relatives drove into their balloon-festooned cul-de-sac, honking their horns and pulling down their masks to eat candy bars – 100 Grands.
Thelma Anthony, a friend, lamented on the call that she could not be with Creavalle in person, as she had imagined she would be on the day she became a centenarian. “You are an awesome inspiration to all of us for something we could achieve: to be 100, live a good life and raise an awesome, beautiful family,” she said.
Creavalle raised her eight children in the South American country of Guyana, then watched as they moved one-by-one to the United States. In 1984, according to her daughter June Williams, Creavalle followed and settled in the Washington area, where Williams had moved to attend Howard University and several of her siblings had followed.
Today, Creavalle’s descendants live all over the world: many of them in Maryland and Virginia, but others in Canada, England and Vietnam.
Creavalle was a teacher and then an elementary school principal before retiring and moving to the United States, and she has spent a century emphasising the importance of education to her descendants. She takes tremendous pride in their accomplishments: the dozens of college degrees and PhDs among her children and grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren currently in college and medical school.