A New York great-grandmother’s 100th birthday celebration was made all the sweeter by the addition of a very special guest: her great-granddaughter — who just happened to be celebrating her first birthday.
Raffaela Eckenberger, of Yonkers, New York, turned 100 on April 3, while her granddaughter and namesake, Ella Collingham, turned 1 on April 9. Their family decided to throw the duo a joint birthday celebration — dubbed “Raffaellabration” — in honor of both milestones.
“It was cool to have the oldest and youngest people in the family bringing the rest of the family together,” Ella’s mom, Diane Collingham, tells PEOPLE.
Close friends and family gathered at 808 Bistro in Scarsdale on April 7, and they were greeted by the birthday girls, who were perfectly matched — down to their string of pearls!
“We had them dressed in the same outfit,” says Diane, 33. “I asked what GG would be wearing and got a matching outfit for Ella — a yellow cardigan with black pants. I even got glasses for Ella, too.”
“I think she loved it,” Diane adds. “She loved having everyone there and she loved being able to share the attention with Ella.”
Eckenberger and her great-granddaughter also got to share a Funfetti birthday cake (Ella’s first!). “She loved it, which is no surprise because her mom loves it!” Diane says with a laugh.
Diane and her husband, Will Collingham, say the twosome have a very special relationship.
“GG constantly says Ella is beautiful — every second of the day. It’s an ongoing joke now,” Will says. “It was really special to see the two of them together on their birthdays.”
Will, 32, also grew up having a close relationship with his grandparents.
“I’ve always been really close to her and my grandfather,” says Will. “They lived a block or two from where I grew up and would pick us up from school and take care of us in the afternoon. My grandfather passed away five years ago, so GG’s been living with my parents.”
The two families still live close by and get to spend lots of time together.
“GG sees Ella a few times a week,” says Diane. “It’s so sweet to see them.”
The proud parents say Ella is “smiley, friendly and a strong-willed little lady.”
“She’s more outgoing than Diane and I put together!” says Will. “She knows what she likes and what she doesn’t — she’s strong.”
At 100, Eckenberger is showing no signs of slowing down either. “She’s in really good health, she’s hard of hearing, but that’s really the only thing,” Will says.
As for the secret to her longevity, Diana says, “I think it’s her sense of humor.” Will adds, “She also has a light beer every night with dinner!”