Published: Aug 20, 2006 08:15 AM
Modified: Aug 23, 2006 04:56 PM
CHAPEL HILL -- Celebrators brought Grace Moore cards, cake and music to honor her 100th birthday.
Moore contributed her sense of humor to the party at Britthaven, a skilled nursing facility on Legion Road.
"Mama Grace, how old are you?" teased her granddaughter, Toni Umstead, of Raleigh.
"Old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth," Moore quipped back softly, making light of having outlasted her chompers.
The staff at Britthaven loves her quick come-backs, said Activity Director Sherrilynn Williams.
And they dish out some of their own.
"We thought we would get you flowers," joked Williams, giving Moore a peace plant. "But we thought you would outlive the flowers."
Residents chuckled and Moore nodded, her chin not far from the large pink gerber daisy coursage pinned to her blouse.
For the party, staff had fluffed Moore's short white hair and painted her nails pink. Moore admitted she enjoys being "prissy."
She wore her pearl earrings and bracelet and a strand of blue and teal beads that matched her blouse and pants.
Her granddaughter put on the finishing touch -- a tall silver tiara.
"There's got to be some benefit to living to be 100," Umstead said.
Residents sipped orange punch and sweet tea and sang "Happy Birthday" to Moore in front of a large sheet cake with red sprinkles.
Then the entertainment began. Mark Jackson arrived in his white cowboy hat and boots. He picked up a microphone and sang country and Elvis tunes to the three dozen or so Britthaven residents who had joined Moore.
Jackson, a Hillsborough resident who restores historic homes, has been singing in retirement homes for about 10 years.
"I just thought it was something good to do in my free time," Jackson said.
He sang Randy Travis's "Angels" and Elvis Presley's "Can't Helping Falling in Love" for the birthday girl, sometimes taking her hand as other residents chuckled or nodded in time with the music.
Moore, with her now deceased husband, Clarence, raised three children on Lindsay Street in Carrboro. Clarence worked for the power plant at UNC. Grace mostly stayed home and looked after the kids, said her daughter, Sue Marbry.
"Oh, I love it," Moore said of Carrboro. "It's a small town, but it's nice."
Marbry was not surprised that her mother has seen a century of life.
"She said she was going to," Marbry said. "When [my father] died in '75, I thought, 'Mama won't live a year.' But she did. She's a strong person."