By Peter D'Oench

POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) – After being separated from her mother since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, a Deerfield Beach woman was able to celebrate her mother’s birthday with her in person on Thursday.

And it was a special birthday indeed at John Knox Village where Vernice Huff celebrated her 100th birthday.

Her daughter, Lynn Foley, friends and employees sang happy birthday and gave her cards and presents as she blew out the candles on her chocolate birthday cake.

Vernice Huff celebrating her 100th birthday! (CBS4)

It happened just days after Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted the ban on visits at nursing homes and other facilities because of a drop in the positivity rate for coronavirus cases. Foley had only been able to see her mother once in the past six months.

The ban affected only a few of the buildings at John Knox Village. Huff lives at one of them.

Huff told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “I never thought there would be something like this. I am very, very excited about. I didn’t know I had so many friends. It has been hard in this isolation. I feel like I have been in prison. All I needed was telephone. This is the hardest thing I have been in. It is the isolation.”

Huff has had an active life. CBS4 was shown a montage of memories in a series of photographs. Huff, who has two children, four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, used to be on a women’s bowling team in the 1950s.

“This means so much to me,” she said. “And I am just thankful I lived this long. I have to say I didn’t need many presents. It is wonderful. I never thought this would happen.”

“Are you looking forward to more birthday parties to come?” D’Oench asked her.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I am just thankful to have this one.”

“How did you stay so young?” She was asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It wasn’t through any effort of mine.”

“What has been your secret to a longer life?” she was asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I guess it is being positive. You have to be positive rather than go backwards.”

Foley said, “This is wonderful. I am so proud of her. She is an inspiration to the whole family. I told her I think she got her start as a farm girl in Indiana. She had all that homegrown food. She has always been positive and has taken care of herself and has always been active and has been strong minded. When she was 80 she said she was going to John Know Village where she wanted to be for the rest of her life.”

“I asked her what she wanted for her birthday,” she said. “And she said fresh peaches and cashew nuts.”

Lynn Foley and Vernice Huff together again after being kept apart since March. (CBS4)

Mark Rayner, the director of health services at John Knox Village, said, “It has been a group effort by the whole team at John Knox Village. We have had zero cases for any residents here at the Woodlands at John Knox Village. We realize people have been lonely and we have helped them with phone calls and skype visits where we have brought in family members for video chats. But it’s not the same as being here in person.”

Peter D'Oench