I don’t know many people who can say they have attended a 100th birthday celebration. I am lucky enough say I’ve been to two. Most recently, on August 27th, my Auntie Ruth turned 100 in style with roughly 70 friends and family members enjoying an afternoon soiree at MerIghi’s Savoy Inn in Vineland, NJ. Vineland is a city that has strong family ties for me, as my ancestors who left Italy settled there in the late 1800s. My paternal grandmother, the late Marie Lirio Chamberlain, was one of four sisters who grew up there, right across the street from my aunt’s house where she still resides. It is a rare occasion to have so much family history still living on one block and the feeling that overcomes me whenever I visit is a strong connection to a part of my heritage.
Auntie Ruth is well loved and cared for by her two daughters, Joanne and Marie, who both live in Vineland and are responsible for the wonderful weekend. To me there is hardly anything better than having the chance to sit down with someone who has lived through so much and can recount what it was like to come of age in an entirely different era. To see my aunt so happy and surrounded by family, sitting in her living room enjoying everyone’s company was really amazing. She said ‘We really had a marvelous life’ and judging by the warmth radiating from her smile, I know it is the truth. It makes me realize that one day I will look back and say the same thing.