It wasn’t the kind of birthday Mary Haakanson’s family in Old Harbor wanted to give her – but with the number of Covid cases on the rise on Kodiak Island, they improvised.
Normally her house would be filled with friends and family. But at 81, her health is fragile. Instead, her family asked people to drive by in their cars to surprise her. One had lots of balloons. So did she like it?
“Oh, yes. I did,” said Mary Haakanson. “I was surprised (when) they started coming. Aye. Yai. Yai. Yai.”
After the drive-by balloons, a few family members sat down with her for a turkey dinner and “triple” chocolate cake, with the frosting spread on top, in thick, generous swirls, prepared lovingly by Mary’s daughter, Phyllis.
Her other daughter, Laverne, says they did their best to make sure their mom felt loved.
“We wish we could be with everybody in the village,” Laverne Haakanson said.”Gathering and eating is one of the things that we do. But because of Covid, we’re not able to do it.”
They did manage to work a little dancing into the festivities. Here’s a link to a video Mary’s family posted on Facebook.
Mary Haakanson is a cherished elder in Old Harbor, one of the few, who is fluent in the Alutiiq language.