Source: Asbury Park Press
Back in May, Darlene Jasmine got the phone call no one wants to receive: Her grandmother Anna Del Priore had come down with COVID-19.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is it,’” Jasmine said. “This is the thing that’s going to take her down.”
Priore — who is one month shy of turning 108 and was born the year the Titanic sank — beat the coronavirus. Not only that, she’s still on her feet, walking and even dancing — to the delight of the staff at Brighton Gardens, an assisted living facility in Middletown operated by Sunrise Senior Living.
“People don’t believe me,” said Laura Halle, who is Del Priore’s health care coordinator at Brighton Gardens. “It’s really been amazing to watch her journey.”
Del Priore was born in Brooklyn to deaf parents who taught sign language. She was a seamstress and her late husband, Frank, was a professional tango dancer.
“She always danced, always loved music,” said Jasmine, 66, who also lives in Middletown. “As soon as she hears music, her foot starts tapping.”
In 1921, 6-year-old Anna contracted the Spanish Flu during the pandemic of 1918, Brighton Gardens administrators confirmed. As with COVID-19, the Spanish Flu attacked the respiratory system, although at a far deadlier rate.
“Maybe that has something to do with her recovering?” said Jasmine, who noted that Anna’s younger sister, 105-year-old Helen Guzzone of Queens, New York, also survived both illnesses.
After Anna fell ill with COVID-19, Jasmine said, “She had a fever and didn’t eat much, but she didn’t need a respirator. They didn’t have to send her to the hospital.”
Now Del Priore has resumed her normal activities, including swimming and sewing. “I feel good,” she said. “I thank God I’m alive.”
Jasmine called it “a miracle” but added that a lifetime of healthy choices probably helped. “She’s constantly moving — we always walked in Brooklyn — to the grocery store, to the bakery. Every night she would make a homemade meal from scratch. All Mediterranean food — olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts. It’s like the old peasant food that now they charge you so much for.”
A 106-year-old woman in Hazlet NJ who also lived through Spanish flu has also beaten COVID-19. According to a gerontology site that tracks such things, two 108-year-old Americans are confirmed to have survived, and seven other Americans aged 107 or older have done so. The oldest confirmed former covid patient is a 113-year-old woman in Spain.
“She gets up, combs her hair, walks and dances,” said Halle, her health care coordinator. “For the rest of my life, I’ll be able to say I met and loved someone who’s made it this far and stayed healthy.”
Suffice it to say Anna Del Priore has no plans to slow down. “You keep living,” she said. “Dancing makes you feel good. I want to keep my health.”