Cake and balloons for centenarian

Family and fellow residents at the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation surprised Frieda Bronstein with cake and balloons to celebrate her birthday, which happens to fall on February 14.

This year marked her 106th Valentine’s Day.

“On a daily basis, she’s still pretty sharp,” said her nurse practitioner Gwendolyn Pelczynski. “She’s very interactive. She participates in all the recreational activity.”

Pelczynski added she was only on a few medications.

“She’s fairly pretty healthy, and it’s a pleasure working with her,” she said.

“The bottom line is to make the resident happy and have a good quality of life,” said Ron Shafran, associate vice president of public affairs and government relations at the institute. “It’s great to see someone at 106 be upbeat.”

She was born on Valentine’s Day in 1905 in Tomashov, Poland, coming to the United States in 1925. Two years later, she married her late husband, Harry Bronstein.

The couple owned a chain of groceries in Brooklyn until 1953, and worked as retail clerks until they moved to North Massapequa in 1967. Her husband passed away that same year, and Bronstein worked at a bakery as a clerk until 1981, when she retired.

She went on to volunteer at a thrift shop for 10 more years. Even though she no longer knits, she used to weave hats and scarves to donate to charity.

“The fact that she didn’t start crying when we were singing happy birthday is really something because a lot of people are gone in her life,” said her daughter, Helen Fine.

Her descendents are comprised of two children, Fine and now deceased Fay Goldstein, five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Fine calls her mother every night and sees her every week like “clockwork.”

“She doesn’t remember as many things in the past as she did,” said Fine, 80.

But she noted that after a bit of reminiscing and mentioning names, her memories will begin to rise to the surface.

“I’m surprised…” said Bronstein. “Everything is good,”

“The birthday parties are part of the therapeutic recreation component of our services,” said Shafran.

Including Bronstein, there are a total of 14 residents at Parker who are over 100 years old.

“Frieda is really loved by the staff and… the community residents who live near her,” said Shafran. “She’s very much the team player.”

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