In April 2015, Rose Pais of Peabody found herself becoming a member of an elite group. Upon celebrating her one hundredth birthday, she joins a unique demographic cohort – centenarians, a population that now numbers more than 72,000 Americans. Although there are many changes Rose has witnessed throughout her lifetime, she appreciates all that has remained the same.
Rose grew up in a Portuguese neighborhood in Peabody on the street on which she still lives today. “I was born in the house across the street and two of my three children were born in this house. Same ward, same street.” Her husband Tony, deceased since 2000, was a child in the same neighborhood, on the same street.
They married in 1939 in St. John’s Church and now, Rose has a great-grand-daughter who serves at Mass in the same church. One of Rose’s one hundred year birthday parties was celebrated in the hall of this church. She drew a crowd of 200 family and friends for that party.
Rose knows she is one lucky lady and yet is rather nonchalant about reaching such a milestone in her life. She is proud of her good health, “I only take two pills!” and her sharp mind, but credits her current good life to her close connections with family and friends. A son and grandson live in separate apartments in her home and her daughter lives across the street. There are three neighborhood friends who drop in and visit with Rose on a regular basis.
Rose’s good health and mobility affords her the opportunity of participating in her many interests. “I love to play cards. Just this past Sunday I played ‘500’ all afternoon with friends and I won!” Rose proclaims she loves food and although son Tony does most of the cooking, she cooks and bakes on more than an occasional basis. She still entertains with a large Portuguese spread on Christmas Eve and I am told her bread pudding is famous. (I wonder to myself if she will consider sharing the recipe).
The mention of Christmas has Rose telling me how she loves to decorate the house during the holiday. She has always enjoyed Arts and Crafts. She continues to knit and crochet for the benefit of two churches and takes great pleasure knowing she is helping the church and those in need.
Embracing the ever-changing world of technology, Rose has discovered the joys of the Internet through Facebook. “I have to tell you Rose, I don’t know anyone your age, or even close to it, who is on Facebook.”
Son Tony introduced her to the iPad and set up a Facebook account she could use. “I check Facebook every night. I like to see what my son and his family in Florida are doing. I have family in Maine and I can keep in touch that way.”
Experts believe one of the best ways to age gracefully is to engage in social networking, online and off. Rose has that conquered fairly well, I’d say!
You are endeared immediately upon meeting Rose, swept up by her easy-going and happy disposition, but it is her love of country and pride in how her family served in the Navy, Army, and Air force that will touch your heart most profoundly. “We took care of the country. We served well.”
Rose’s husband Tony was a Radarman on the U.S.S. Kline. She recalls the details of the ship being commissioned in Quincy, Massachusetts and seeing her husband off to war, with one young child in arms, not knowing when she would see him or hear from him again.
Rose herself was one of the founding members of the Portuguese American War Veterans Club. It was an honor to her that the Veterans’ Club held a hundred year birthday party. She delights in showing pictures from the party and asked that I use one of the pictures for our story since it represents serving the country to her.
Rose has encouraged me to visit the Fort Pierce, Florida Navy Seal Museum (www.navyseal/museum.org) someday. For many years she and Tony made an annual pilgrimage to the Museum. On display is a model of the U.S.S. Kline, which she proudly refers to as “my husband’s ship.” What an endorsement!
Over time, Rose and her family found themselves as caregivers to Tony, who developed Parkinson’s disease. They cared for him at home for several years. She is grateful they were able to provide excellent care for Tony. He was only a week in hospital at the end of the disease before he died.
Rose is grateful for her blessed life and that it has continued for so long. She too is surprised with her good health and longevity which has made her a centenarian. “Life catches up with everyone though. Something will happen to me. I can’t live forever, but I’d like a few more good years!”
Rose has more to give, food to cook, desserts to bake, scarves to knit, cards to play, and family to love. (And in the end, she did share her Bread Pudding recipe with us!). Thanks Rose.
Rose Pais Bread Pudding
3 loaves of Portuguese or Italian bread. Break into pieces and let sit out 2-3 days.
Soak in water until soft and drain.
1/4lb melted butter 2 ½ cups sugar
1 large box of raisins 1 tsp vanilla
6 eggs 2 tsps. cinnamon
1 large jar of applesauce ¾ tsp nutmeg
Add a little milk to make it stick together.
Sprinkle cinnamon on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for an hour (until it is brown on top). This amount will make two 13”x9” dishes.