One Norfolk, Virginia resident recently got the surprise of her life on her 100th birthday. Jeanette Carty was just hanging out at home — the same home where she’s lived most of her life and raised her children — when the Norfolk Fire-Rescue Department showed up at her doorstep on June 22.

Battalion 3, Engine 11, some new recruits, and a few members from training of the department were all in attendance to wish her a happy birthday in the sweetest way. The firefighters had a bouquet of flowers in hand for Jeannette during the special celebratory visit for her big day.

The department captured her surprised, grateful reaction in photos that they posted to their Facebook page. They photos are heartwarming to see even without knowing the backstory, but it makes much more sense (and is even more tearjerking) once you do.

You see, Jeannette knew quite a few people very close to her in the Norfolk Fire Department, one being her late husband, Joe Carty, who served with them for 30 straight years, starting in 1942. Jeanette’s nephew, Capt. David Bear, and his father were also integral members of the department for many years.

Needless to say, Norfolk Fire-Rescue has always been part of her life, and they felt the same about her, and wanted to celebrate her in their most appreciative (and adorable, if we do say so ourselves) way possible.

“I thought it was a great idea. We’re always out in the public—it’s a part of what we do—but with her family’s service, we wanted to treat her to something special, to keep that family connection going,” Norfolk Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Julian Williamson said. “It’s not often that we know someone with that kind of connection [to the fire department] that turns 100.”

“She seemed really excited about it. She was really surprised,” he added.

The photos that the fire department posted of Jeanette’s reaction to her birthday surprise were blown up with more than 21,000 likes and thousands of positive comments wishing Jeannette the happiest of birthdays, and praising the department for being so thoughtful.

“This is a nice recognition to people who brought her life to something really important and not always properly rewarded even after several years of living. This is a good example of social inclusion,” one commenter said on Facebook.

“That’s awesome. Hats off to the Fire Rescue Department. One of the perks of living in a small town!” another said.

“Belated Happy Birthday Jeanette Carty. What a thoughtful and beautiful surprise of the visit to you home from Norfolk Fire Rescue.”

We have to admit, we think it’s pretty thoughtful for a whole fire department to get together to do this for Jeanette.

They say a photo is worth a thousand words, and the photos truly say it all. To see each of the photos and hear more about the surprise, check out this video below!

What a lovely gesture by the Norfolk Fire-Rescue Department! What do you think of this story? Do you know anyone turning 100 soon? How do you plan to surprise them?