WORKING hard and avoiding chocolate are the secrets to a long life, according to a St Vincent’s Care Services Kangaroo Point resident Margherita Vitanza who turned a remarkable 105 years last month.
Mrs Vitanza celebrated her 105th birthday on September 22 with a birthday morning tea, surrounded by friends and family, including her son Vince Vitanza.
“Everybody loves my mother,” he said.
“They all call her ‘mother’.”
Born in Italy in 1911, Mrs Vitanza was one of 15 children, five of whom died at childbirth.
She watched all her brothers migrate to Australia and in 1937 made a long journey by boat to Innisfail.
After meeting her husband, a Maltese man, the pair set up life on a cane farm.
Son Vince was born in 1939 and eight years later gave birth to Mary, who was born with Down Syndrome.
Mrs Vitanza cared for her daughter until the day she died in 2013 while the pair were still living together at a residential aged care home in Kangaroo Point.
Mr Vitanza said his favourite memory of growing up with his mother was her insistence of the health benefits of castor oil and Epsom salts.
“When we were young on the farm, it was mandatory to have castor oil and Epsom salts,” he said.
“They are vile, we they were having that for good health.
“I think they probably used it all through their life.”
Avoiding chocolate and big meals might be another factor prolonging her life.
“She always made sure you ate well, but didn’t like big meals,” Mr Vitanza said.
“She pushed the food onto your plate.”
At least once a week the 105-year-old waits to receive Holy Communion in her room at St Vincent’s Care Services, and still manages to read the Bible and other Italian books regularly.
Mrs Vitanza has stayed a strong and devout Catholic her whole life, even seeing the humour of God’s blessing of life.
Daugther-in-law Lyn Vitanza said Mrs Vitanza could sense God wasn’t ready for her.
“She prays everyday,” her daughter-in-law said.
“She tells me, ‘God’s waiting room is full’.”
Mr Vitanza hopes the gift of long life was genetic.
“I will live to 150,” he said.
By Emilie Ng