Friends, neighbors and family came together Friday night to celebrate the long life of Peter Gabrys with a surprise drive-by birthday celebration on Kensington Way.
Peter Gabrys turned 94 on Friday, but daughter-in-law Nena Gabrys said she put the celebration together — which featured tables and canopies in the family driveway adorned with balloons and “happy birthday” — for an additional reason.
Both her mother-in-law and father-in-law recently recovered from COVID-19, after being diagnosed a month ago.
She said he was released from the hospital on July 23, while her mother-in-law Rose, who is 86, came home July 13.
“It was so stressful and unnerving, not knowing how this virus affects people,” Nena Gabrys said. “We said that if both of them made it home, we were going to do something to celebrate. We had to wait until Peter got stronger, so we thought, we’ll do it on his birthday.”
Just a couple hours before the surprise, Nena Gabrys said, her father-in-law said he knew something was going on when he caught her bringing balloons into the house. He had even joked earlier in the day that the family should notify the media about his big day and recovery, she said.
“I just love it,” Peter Gabrys said as he relaxed in a chair in the center of his driveway. “I’m blessed.”
A few neighbors drove by the house, honking their horns and waving, and Nena Gabrys said some even stopped to join the festivities.
“He just spent 10 to 13 days in the hospital, so to come home to this is just amazing,” Rose Gabrys said. “He has a very large family, and there’s only about eight of them left. But they’ve been calling him all day from all over the place.”
Rose Gabrys said she only spent four days in the hospital, as she fought the virus for the most part at home. She said the entire ordeal was difficult.
“I couldn’t go in to see him, he couldn’t come in to see me,” she said. “He really wanted to see his grandkids, and he couldn’t.”
Both Rose and Nena Gabrys said the celebration was even more important because they don’t know how long Peter will be with them.
“It’s just great that we had the neighbors here,” Nena Gabrys said. “Everyone has been so supportive.”