When 97-year-old Alfred Birch was hospitalized with congestive heart failure in early March, his family didn't think he'd make it to his 98th birthday. So to cheer him up and give him something to look forward to, his daughter and granddaughter decided they'd help him go viral as an early birthday present.
"We were really scared we were going to lose him," Birch's granddaughter, Julia Geswell, of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, told The Huffington Post. "He has lived with me and my parents since my grandmother passed, around 15 years ago, so losing him is the biggest fear I have."
Geswell and her mother decided they'd post a picture of Grandpa Alfred in the hospital and try their best to get up to 98 "likes" to celebrate his upcoming 98th birthday on March 28. "I was like, 'You know, I've seen people do this a million times and I don't think it's going to work, but let's see," she said.
"We kind of did it to give him something to look forward to, put a smile on his face and get him out of that dreary hospital feel," Geswell said, adding they first had to explain to Alfred what Facebook is.
Within a few days of the post going up, Geswell said they were amazed they'd reached their goal of 98 likes ... but the attention kept on coming.
"It just blew my mind. I told my grandfather and I told him he made it all around the world and he goes, 'Are you kidding me!?'" she said.
In less than 10 days, the post has gotten over 22,000 likes, over 26,000 shares, and over 1,000 comments from people all over the world. The family is printing out the comments and plans to give Grandpa Alfred a binder full of the wishes later this month on his birthday.
"It's really boosted his spirits. He's getting a kick out of it," Geswell said of her grandfather, who is back at home now. "He told me to go to the senior center to tell them they have a celebrity in Manchester now!"