Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager surprise a grandma on her 1st birthday without her husband

Hoda and Jenna wanted to let Carolyn Oliver know everyone was thinking of her on her first birthday alone since her husband of 50 years passed away.


A grandmother celebrating her first birthday without her husband of 50 years was by herself at home on Tuesday, but she was not alone.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager made a surprise video call on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna to brighten the spirits of Carolyn Oliver on her 74th birthday as she remains in quarantine at her Louisiana home during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Oh my God!" Oliver said in surprise. "Oh, you're gonna make me cry!"

The sweet moment came after Oliver's daughter Christy reached out to Hoda about her mother. Oliver lost her husband, Bill, when he died last June in an accident while working on his boat.

Carolyn Oliver celebrated her first birthday without Bill, her husband of 50 years, who died in June 2019. Christy Reeves

Oliver's husband was known as the life of the party, making the Louisiana grandmother's birthday on Tuesday a little more somber and subdued without him there.

"We just want to let you know you are not alone, and we've been thinking about you on this birthday," Jenna told her on TODAY.

The surprise from Hoda and Jenna marked the latest gesture by the TODAY family to raise people's spirits during a difficult time, whether it's Al Roker throwing a virtual prom for a group of high school seniors or Hoda officiating a virtual wedding for a couple who had theirs canceled due to the pandemic.

Oliver has also self-quarantined in her home since March 11, so her other daughter Lisa along with Christy wanted to make sure she didn't feel alone on her special day.

Carolyn Oliver's two daughters and three granddaughters showed up outside her home to wish her a happy 74th birthday. Christy Reeves

Oliver's daughters wrote to friends and family around the world asking them to send cards to Lisa for her to give to her mother on her birthday. More than 150 people sent cards from as far away as Paris and Calgary, Canada, to make sure Oliver knew they were thinking of her on her birthday.

Christy and Lisa also went to their mother's home on Tuesday with their three daughters to wish her a happy birthday in person from a safe distance outside.

She turned her phone around to show the sweet scene of her family gathering to add to the sweet surprise from Hoda and Jenna.

"We wanted you to know that we're holding your hand through the TV," Hoda added.