Video: A century of life

Rory Schuler

Rose Aprile removed her glasses, held them to the light, fidgeted for a moment, replaced the eyewear and cleared her voice.

Amid the beeping of medical machines and clicking of revolving wheelchair spokes, she dove head first into an impromptu rendition of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore,” the lyrics bending back and forth between English and her native Italian.

At 100 years old, Aprile, a former Arlington resident, is one of the eldest habitants of the Winchester Nursing Center.

Born March 11, 1908, in Italy, the frequent performer shares her centenarian status with five other residents — several are but months away from the title, while a couple others passed the milestone a few years earlier.

“They can’t get rid of me,” chimed 104-year-old Mildred Steeves, as one of the WNC employees pushed her wheelchair to a spot in the center of the sunlit recreation room.

Marsha Johnson, activity director at the center, can’t help but be inspired by the longevity of the facility’s eldest residents.

“They do inspire me, for the reason that they have lived a good long life,” she said. “They bring oral tradition from their mothers and grandmothers, going back more than 100 years. And their lifestyles were different. They bring manners and civility from their culture. You can’t stereotype them. You can’t put them into any category.”

Antonio Antetomaso, 98, a former sausage maker and another Italian immigrant, grunted at the question, “What’s the secret to living a long life?”