By Tim Harfmann
It was a birthday bash 100 years in the making.
“I feel pretty good! I feel super today!” said Caroline Darienzo. She hit the century mark and was surrounded by family and friends at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Ozone Park, Queens. That’s where Caroline goes to Mass every Sunday. Before the party, Caroline and friends were in church for a special birthday liturgy and a request. “I tell Him to look over me and He has,” said Caroline.
The thing Caroline cherishes most about her life is spending time with family. Though she’s a widow and never had children, Caroline has dozens of nephews and nieces. She’s even a great-great aunt. While we were talking, Caroline received a surprise from some of them. “Oh my gosh! These… these are… my relatives from Florida!” said Caroline. Her nephew, niece and great-nephew made the trip to be with her on this special day. “It was great! We had been planning this for a couple of months. We were scared that she couldn’t take it, being that her heart is 100 years old,” said Fred Distasio jokingly. He is Caroline’s nephew.
Caroline is the oldest of six children. Her youngest and only living sibling is 82-year-old Marie Francione. “She was like my second mother growing up. She used to take me shopping. She was the first one to make me get a permanent wave hair style, even though I hated it,” said Marie as she smiled. Caroline was born in Jamaica, Queens in 1919 and had a career in the oil industry. Now retired for nearly four decades, she loves sewing and cooking. She even busted a move on the dance floor.
Caroline had some tips about living a long life, “Laugh. Joy. Eat. And be merry.” And that she was — on her 100th birthday.