Jeanne Jacques, left, reaches out Friday to touch the glass of the door separating her from her daughter, Janet Weeks, and her granddaughter, Mikaela Pollard, 4, on Jacques’ 90th birthday at Northern Light Continuing Care Lakewood on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville. The coronavirus has restricted all visitors from the facility to protect some of the most vulnerable population from the pandemic. “It’s the first time in 62 years I haven’t been able to embrace my mother on her birthday,” said Weeks. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Janet Weeks came to a realization on Thursday afternoon. For the first time in her life, Janet, 62, wouldn’t be able to spend her mother’s birthday with her mother.

“I was talking to my daughter yesterday, and I just realized that every year since I was born — I’m 62 — I’ve been with my mother on her birthday,” Weeks said during a phone call on Friday.

Janet Weeks’ mother, Jeanne Jacques, turned 90 years old on Friday, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, was unable to be surrounded by her family as she normally is for the occasion.

Jacques is a resident at Northern Light Continuing Care Lakewood in Waterville and because of the high risk to elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions from coronavirus and its complications, the nursing home has implemented a strict visitor policy to protect residents and employees.

With visitation restricted, the Weeks came up with an alternative plan to celebrate Jacques’ special day.

At 3 p.m. on Friday, Jacques’ daughter Janet, son Roger Jacques, niece Brenda Saucier, grandson Chris Weeks,  granddaughter Amanda Pollard and great-granddaughter Mikaela Pollard stood outside the community room window at the facility to sing happy birthday to her. In hand was a bouquet of flowers, cards and a sign that read, “Happy birthday mom, grams and gigi.”

When Jacques saw her family on the other side of the window, Chris Weeks said she was completely surprised.

“She saw us all and actually kept trying to open the door,” he said. “She was very happy.”

Jeanne Jacques received a big surprise Friday when her family showed up at Northern Light Continuing Care Lakewood on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville to wish her a happy 90th birthday. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Jacques was born and raised in Waterville and went on to raise her own five children on Oakland Street in the city. In the eyes of her daughter Janet Weeks, Jacques is the definition of a strong mother.

“She had five kids in six years,” she said. “I never heard her complain about being tired from work, then having to come home and take care of her family. She never complained … I don’t know how she did it … she’s the hardest worker and the most wonderful mother. ”

Janet Weeks said her mom’s top priority has always been her children and husband.

Jacques worked as a eucharistic minister and volunteered for local hospitals and nursing homes, including Lakewood, according to Chris Weeks.

He said that Jacques spent several years bringing communion to the sick and food to those unable to leave their homes.

“We wanted to do this for her since she was always doing for others,” he said. “She is the matriarch of the family so this was a special day.”

Chris Weeks said being apart from his grandmother is hard, especially because she’s known around Lakewood to have a lot of company.

“She’s used to having her sons visit her every single day, and I try to go at least once a week,” he said during a phone call on Friday. “Like she is known by the staff around Lakewood for having a lot of visitors, so this is hard. I’m very close with my grandmother.” 

But the staff at Lakewood have made the time apart more manageable.

“I can’t say enough good things about Lakewood,” Chris Weeks said. “I’d like to thank them. Through this whole process they’ve been very informative and excellent about letting everyone know what’s going on. The communication has been amazing.” 

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