TORONTO -- Frieda Motsch’s family has always made the effort to make her birthday special and COVID-19 was not going to change that.

“During a pandemic, what do you do when you can’t have party?” Annie Hudson, Motsch’s daughter, told CTV News Toronto. “We thought, well, we’ll have a card party!”

Hudson put the call out to family on friends on Facebook, asking them to surprise her mother with a card for her 98th birthday.

Over the course of a few days, Motsch received nearly 300 cards.

“It surprised me. I had so many!” Motsch said. “I was very happy somebody think of me.”

Motsch, known to most simply as ‘Oma,’ lives alone in Toronto’s Guildwood neighbourhood. She admitted to CTV News Toronto that the pandemic hasn’t always been easy for her.

“I feel sometimes is a little depressing,” she said. When asked about how this birthday was different from her usual celebrations, she said “my friends, they could not come this year.”

When the birthday cards started arriving at Oma’s house, Hudson says there was a lot of joy.

“She ended up, every day, going to the mailbox and she’d pick up five cards, maybe 10, sometimes it was 20,” Hudson explained. “She did nothing but laugh. And she goes ‘oh, I think you guys had something to do with this’.”

Frieda Motsch

The cards are on display around Motsch’s home – hanging from the ceiling in the living room and dining room. The plan is to have them up and visible until Christmas.

“I will leave it in until somebody take it off!” Motsch laughs.

Hudson says they are still waiting for more cards to arrive from friends and family members overseas, and that spreading out the arrival of the cards was part of the plan.

“We had it going on for about a month because we didn’t want her overwhelmed with one day worth of cards,” she said. “It worked out quite nicely.”

Motsch came to Canada from Germany and settled in Toronto with her husband and four children. Now, she is a grandmother to 13, a great-grandmother of 25, and great-great-grandmother to one.

“She is amazing,” Hudson said. “She is kind of like the boss of all of us, which is true. Sorry mom!”

Frieda Motsch

As for the number of cards pouring in, Motsch’s great-grandson Ryan Budhai says he is not surprised.

“I knew when everyone would hear the message and the initiative we took to make this project happen that everyone would be so excited to take part,” he tolls CTV News Toronto. “I gathered all my friends and said we should all write a good heartfelt message to her and make her feel good on her birthday.”

Motsch says the ‘card party’ certainly has made her feel good.

“I appreciate everybody and to everybody I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Frieda Motsch

Her family suggests that others consider something similar for their loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think everybody should do this for their elderly people that are homebound,” Hudson said. “Just to let people know that you’re thinking of them.”