NEW BRITAIN – City native Constance DiLorenzo is turning 100 on July 25.
And a happy 100 years she’s had, mostly all in New Britain.
DiLorenzo is known fondly as “Connie” at Grandview Rehabilitation & Health Care Center where she now resides. She points up to heaven when asked the secret to living a long, happy life.
“I worked all my life and God has been good to me,” DiLorenzo told the New Britain Herald, which she reads faithfully each and every day.
“My secret is enjoying life as it comes,” she added. “When it hurts, take it on the chin.”
DiLorenzo was born in Sicily, Italy. She and her family moved to the U.S. when she was 3 years old.
Her father owned the Universal Meat Market on Lafayette Street, where she worked as a teenager. She went to St. Mary’s School up until eighth grade.
“I drove the car because he didn’t know how to drive and I kept his books,” she said. “When it was time to go to high school my father said, absolutely not. Too many bad boys.”
She described her mother as being “a joy to know.”
“She was healthy…she cooked. My father would go gamble with his cronies at night and my mother would wait for him until 1 in the morning.”
DiLorenzo met her late husband, Dominic, when he started working for her father at the market. She remembers those days fondly.
“When my father walked out of the store we would hold hands and kiss,” she said. “My husband was very good to me.”
The couple had three daughters, Barbara, Victoria and Rosemarie, the latter whom she lived with before coming to Grandview.
“I would take my three daughters to school and then I would go to work,” she recalls.
“She was a very loving, giving mother and a hard worker,” Rosemarie Gionfriddo said of her mom. “We’re so very fortunate to have her all these years.”
DiLorenzo worked inside Levy’s Dress Shop on Main Street and later on for Anthony Rao’s and Landers, Frary & Clark. Always in retail, which meant she was on her feet all day.
“When I would see something special come in I’d pick it up and sneak it past my husband,” DiLorenzo recalled. “Then he’d see it on me and say when did you get that? I loved working.”
She also adores the city of New Britain and the staff at Grandview, who get a kick out of her stories. Her sister Mary lives there too.
They are planning a small celebration for her birthday this July. The COVID-19 pandemic puts a strain on nursing facilities, who have been slow to welcome back visitors in order to protect residents and staff.
“We’re hoping to be able to go there that Saturday, but it’s still up in the air at this point,” Gionfriddo explained.
Meanwhile, DiLorenzo is approaching her next century with grace and joy.
“I love people and they love me,” she said. “I especially love God. Who would give me a life so long? Only him.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.