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Celebrating a birthday, from a distance, in Rockville Centre


On Sunday, March 29, Bob Clyne was inside his Rockville Centre home when the doorbell rang. Upon answering the door, he got a birthday surprise: his children and grandchildren were standing on the curb, holding up signs, then began singing “Happy Birthday” to him.

Around the country and in Rockville Centre, families have had to get creative when it comes to maintaining connections, and the unexpected moments can have a big impact.

Clyne, who turned 76 on Sunday, and his wife Mary have been self-isolating at home for the past three weeks while their children bring them groceries. He said they were both surprised – and thrilled – to be greeted by his daughter and son-in-law, Danielle and Michael Ray of Rockville Centre, with their sons Matthew, Andrew and Spencer, and his son and daughter-in-law Steven and Lisa Clyne, of Lynbrook, with their children Nicholas and Julianna, who then gave him the homemade signs.

Normally, Clyne said, the family gets together to celebrate every birthday. This year, they adapted to the social distancing recommendations. In addition to the surprise visit, Clyne said about 25 family members from around the country connected for chat through Zoom later in the evening, making for a very memorable day.

“It felt fantastic,” Clyne said. “It’s what family does in trying times.”