The threat of the spread of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) killed Debbie Storts’ original plans for celebrating her mom’s 99-year-old birthday.
“Family was supposed to fly down and we were going to go to the Rusty Pelican for a lunch on April 4. So, that was canceled,” Debbie said.
“I was also going to do a luncheon prior to that for her friends and my friends. So, we scratched that, as well,” she added.
Instead of coming to a luncheon, neighbors and friends walked up — or rode by in cars or on bicycles to wish Evelyn “Ev” Furman a wonderful day.
The party, in the Twin Lakes subdivision of Land O’ Lakes, was held on April 9, Ev’s actual birthday. It lasted from 10 a.m. until noon.
There also were people from North Pointe Church in Lutz, and Hand and Foot card-playing friends from the Land O’ Lakes Recreational Complex in Land O’ Lakes.
Some of Debbie’s friends from Pine View Middle were there, too. The middle school was Debbie’s last stop before retiring from a 26-year teaching career in Pasco County Schools.
The party attenders kept an appropriate distance — at least 6 feet away — from Ev.
Debbie served up cookies and candy, from a 6-foot-long tray.
When people brought presents, Debbie had them leave them at the end of the driveway.
“I let them sit there,” Debbie said, and then after retrieving them, she wiped them down.
“She did quite well. She got a lot of stuff,” Debbie said.
Ev had a ball.
Her first present, she said, “was a beautiful orchid.”
She received about 75 cards, but not all of them came from the party.
“I look through them, and it’s just wonderful to think — I’m 99 and holding,” Ev said.
“I’ve had a good life,” said the woman, who taught fourth grade for 31 ½ years and loved doing that.
One highlight from those years was a friendship that began during her very first year of teaching, with a student named Pat Owen, who kept in touch.
“I still hear from her. In fact, her birthday is this Friday, so I’ll be calling her,” Ev said.
Over the years, Eve said she’s enjoyed traveling and has been to such places as Europe, Alaska and the Panama Canal.
She said she’s never experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s very sad. To think, people are out of work and they don’t have money for the food.”
But, Debbie didn’t let the pandemic ruin her mom’s birthday.
Even though Ev’s son, Gary Furman, from Georgia; her daughter, Darlene Conville, from Michigan; and her grandson, Derrick Storts, from Winter Park, couldn’t be there — the birthday girl said she still had a grand time.
Next year, when Ev turns 100, the party will be in a big ballroom, Debbie said.
But, topping this year’s celebration might be a challenge.
“It was the best party I ever had,” Ev said.
Published April 29, 2020