CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a tough time to live in a nursing home. Visits are limited, and even celebrating birthdays can be a challenge, but one woman in the suburbs is doing everything she can to make her friend’s 100th birthday extra special.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas shows us how.

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Laughing and touching hands through glass, Janet Ellison and Edith Jones have been through their share of birthdays together.

Asked what she would like to say about turning 100, Edith said, “I’m thinking that it’s been a mistake of some kind.”

Janet and Edith first met more than 40 years ago, when 18-year-old Janet offered her then 55-year-old classmate a seat next to her in Spanish class at the College of DuPage.

“It was like an instant friendship, where age did not matter a bit,” Janet said. “She said if she dies first, she’ll wait for me in heaven. And if I die first, I will wait for her. And that way we’ll be sitting together forever.”

But this year, due to health regulations at nursing homes, Edith’s close friends and family can’t sit next to her, not even for her 100th birthday.

“She’s expressed a lot of sadness over here isolation,” Janet said. “I was thinking of her, how could I try to lift her sprits and show her the kind of love she’s given the world really, in her lifetime.”

So Janet took to social media, asking strangers to mail cards to her friend at Covenant Living’s Johnson Health Care Center in Carol Stream.

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The posts got hundreds of replies; an outpouring of support from people wanting to wish Edith a happy birthday.

Edith’s birthday is Dec. 9, but some of the cards already arrived, and Janet informed Edith there’s plenty more on the way.

“This has been very nice, Janet, and I do thank you so much for what you’ve done,” Edith said.

What’s making her so happy?

“Just that anybody would care enough to do this for me,” she said. “It’s amazing is all I can say.”

As amazing as a 45-year friendship that started in the back of Spanish class, or a pandemic that can break a 100-year-old woman’s heart, only for kindness and love to put it back together again.

Janet is asking you to send Edith some love too. The more the merrier. You can mail her a birthday card to:

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Edith Jones
Johnson Health Care Center
110 Windsor Park Drive
Room 126
Carol Stream, IL 60188

Tim McNicholas