Joy Rose celebrated more than one milestone on her birthday, May 25. Not only did the DeFuniak Springs resident turn 81, but she was able to witness the birth of her great-grandchild, Maci Rachelle Dennis.
"My due date was the 31st of June," said Meredith Telfer, Rose's granddaughter. "When we went ahead and set up the induction date I didn't even realize it was my grandmother's birthday."
"It was such a remarkable experience," recalled Jane McKenzie, Rose's daughter and Meredith's mother.
The four generations of women have a close bond, Telfer said, reinforced by their shared experience in the delivery room at Sacred Heart on The Emerald Coast.
"I couldn't have created a better grandma," she said. "She always went above and beyond to make everything special, and that is one trait of hers that has been passed down through the generations."
The women are so close in fact that McKenzie, a nurse's assistant for the past 35 years, even works at her mother’s nursing home, Chautauqua Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Every morning, at the end of her late night shift, she dresses her mother, fixes her a cup of coffee and makes sure she has a snack.
"She is a strong force in our family and has always been a huge part of our lives," McKenzie said of her mom.
Throughout the years, when her daughter and granddaughter started having children, it was Rose who did the nurturing. She took McKenzie's family in to her own home years ago, and watched after Telfer's first daughters, Malaya, 8, and Madelyn, 4, after they were born.
"I couldn't be luckier that my daughters have been able to experience some of what I have with her," Telfer said.
This time last year, Rose's birthday wasn't as happy of a celebration with her health declining. But throughout the next year she began to improve, much to her family’s delight.
"She was really sick," explained Telfer. "She didn't even know we were there. She couldn't get out of bed. If you told me a year ago on her birthday that she would be at her twelfth great grandchild's birth I wouldn't have believed you. She was in rough shape then and we didn't think she was going to be around much longer. Since then she has made a complete 180 and doesn't even resemble herself from a year ago."
Rose was more than thrilled — and even a bit surprised — that she was able to partake in her great-granddaughter's birth. She was not only in the room, but cut the umbilical cord after baby Maci was born. She recalled giving birth to her own children and the strict rules hospitals had at the time. No one was allowed in the rooms, she said.
It was a birthday that'll be hard to top, said Rose.
"It was absolutely the best birthday," Rose said. "Nothing could compare to it. It was a dream I got to live through."