Just two months ago, 92-year-old Jean Roper of Trussville, Alabama, was deteriorating rapidly, she suffering from severe kidney failure. Doctors quickly gathered her children and grandchildren and told them that it was time for them to say their final goodbyes to their beloved grandmother.
“They said she had only two or three weeks to live,” Jean’s great-granddaughter, Kayla Tracy, 24, told PEOPLE, “and it was very hard for all of us to think that we were going to lose her. She’s always been the heart of our family.” Then, something extraordinary occurred. Kayla’s 21-year-old sister, Amber Harris, was due to give birth to her first child – a little baby girl. As she went into labor, Jean’s condition began to improve.
“She was over the moon with excitement,” Kayla told PEOPLE, “and she kept telling everyone, ‘I just want to live long enough to see that baby girl.’”
Jean and her husband, Edward, 94, have already been blessed with three children, seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren. But the thing is, almost all of them are boys! She was desperate to meet the little girl. “To know that she was going to soon have a great-great-granddaughter was like medicine for her,” said Kayla. “It was so amazing to watch her transformation that I knew I had to document it.”
So the family brought in Kayla Tracy Photography to capture some truly stunning and timeless moments of the pair’s first meeting.
Jean had been finding things tough ever since her son passed away from kidney failure. But the arrival of this wonderful gift certainly lifted her spirits and gave her a fresh outlook on life. “Her whole attitude changed when she learned about that grandbaby,” said Kayla. “And once she was born, wow. It was an emotional time for everyone to witness her holding that new baby girl in her arms.”
Little Magnolia Jean “absolutely helped me to survive and pull through my diagnosis,” said Jean.
“She helped keep my mind off how weak and terrible I felt,” she says, “and I thought she was the most beautiful baby girl I’d ever seen. She was so tiny and every part of her was just perfect.”