At just two years shy of becoming a centenarian, Grandma Gladys still knows how to party, and her loving granddaughter is by her side to spark up the fun.
To celebrate Gladys’ 98th birthday on September 26, her granddaughter, Shannon Weikle, treated her to a colorful photoshoot—which featured Gladys dying her hair blue, sipping Prosecco straight from the bottle and destroying a cake with her bare hands.
“A lot of my friends are having babies and are either doing newborn photoshoots or smash cakes for their child’s first birthday,” Weikle, 29, of Bowie, Maryland, tells PEOPLE. “She’s the person I do all these fun things with, and that’s where the idea came in, and I wanted to do something special for her.”
Weikle has done special things to mark her grandmother’s birthday over the years, such as getting matching maple leaf tattoos on their wrists when Gladys turned 95 in 2014—which almost didn’t happen because the shop needed a copy of Gladys’ ID to prove she was over 18, but she didn’t have one (fortunately, they found other means). They’ve also discussed going big for her 100th birthday: for that milestone, Weikle is currently trying to convince her grandmother to go skydiving. While Gladys needs some more time to come around to that idea, she was totally game for a photoshoot where she could get dolled up.
“She is 100 percent girly-girl,” Weikle explains. “She loves to look nice and get dressed up, I thought the photoshoot would be a fun way for her to commemorate the occasion.”
But “feisty” Gladys wasn’t too keen when it came to dying her silver hair blue for the shoot.
“I came over and I showed her the dye, and we just went to work,” Weikle says. “When she saw herself, she was mortified!”
Still, Gladys remained a trooper and went through with her granddaughter’s plan.
The photos, taken by Maryland photographer Cara Lynn McGilvrey, show a beaming Gladys surrounded by green forestry and colorful balloons, and sipping a little wine from a glass that reads, “98 and looking for a date.” Well, in truth, she sipped more than just a little wine.
“I thought wine might be good because it would calm her nerves since she was a little nervous about getting her picture taken,” Weikle says. “We poured her a glass of wine to sip on and take pictures with, and then she just chugged it—she was pretty excited when we drove home!”
When McGilvrey posted the photo set to her Facebook page, they received a lot of attention: the post has garnered more than 16,000 likes and 3,000 comments, and many commenters expressed that they, too, wanted to put on similar shoots for their grandmothers.
Weikle says Gladys lights up when she hears about all of the attention she’s been getting, and they are both thankful the response has been nothing but positive.
“I’ll read her the comments and she’ll just giggle and can’t believe so many people care about what she’s doing,” Weikle says. “She thought people would think she had gone crazy. Hopefully, this inspires people to realize they are never too old to do anything or to enjoy life.”