By Fern Marder
We love to party. We especially love birthday celebrations. COVID-19 has not changed Parker’s celebratory culture but it has modified the way we commemorate milestones and holidays. Over the past 7 months despite COVID-19 restrictions, our staff has found many new, imaginative ways to bring celebrations and joy to the people we serve.
As Parker at Stonegate assisted living resident Julia Tallia’s 100th birthday approached, the staff spent hours planning how to celebrate her milestone birthday in style while including other residents and her family in a socially distant way. Their hard work resulted in some special memories for Julia and her family.
Julia’s first birthday surprise was a Zoom meeting with the Mayor of Highland Park and the Town Council. Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler presented a Proclamation in honor of Julia’s 100th birthday, which shared some interesting facts about her life.
Born on September 20, 1029, Julia was the only child of two immigrants from northern Italy–Maria and Emile Maron. She attended Paterson Central High School and the New Jersey Business Institute, where she earned a business secretarial degree. In 1952, Julia married Alfred Tallia and they raised two children together: Alfred Tallia, Jr., a physician, and Amy Bidwell, a retired attorney.
For years, Julia worked as an assistant office manager of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Passaic. She is proud to have organized a successful effort to establish a library at the Paterson Public School. She also supported her husband in his work as owner of Tallia’s Delicatessen and Catering in Paterson. Julia and her husband celebrated 56 happy and fulfilling years of marriage before Alfred passed away in 2009.
Mayor Brill Mittler ended the reading of the proclamation with this sentiment: “I hereby extend the best wishes of the borough to Julia Louise Tallia on the occasion of her 100th birthday. May she continue to enjoy the rewards of family, friendship, and community for many more years. Congratulations!” Julia was visibly moved and elated by the Mayor’s proclamation, thanking her and the Town Council for their kind wishes for a happy birthday.
Julia’s birthday celebration continued on the 18th, when the staff visited each suite with a rolling birthday cocktail bar stocked with assorted beverages and cupcakes. Each resident was asked to send video greetings to Julia, in real-time, using Facetime. Julie was surprised and so happy to hear from all her Stonegate friends and staff. Olive Brannen, who turned 100 last year, welcomed Julia to the “Centennial Club.”
When asked for advice on how to live a long and happy life, Julia shared, “Don’t procrastinate and don’t worry about things. Settle things immediately and take care of whatever is disturbing you.” Wise advice, indeed! And, when asked about her most important accomplishment in life, Julia quickly responded: “My greatest accomplishment are my two children. I helped them achieve what they wanted to do."
Sunday, September 20th, Julia’s actual birthday, was made special by a visit from her son Alfred, her daughter-in-law, and grandson, which took place outdoors on the Stonegate porch. Technology came into play again; Julia enjoyed Facetiming with her daughter and family members who were unable to attend but wanted to wish her a happy and healthy birthday virtually. All in all, Julia enjoyed a wonderful week of celebrating her birthday with her Stonegate friends, staff and her loving family. Happy 100th Birthday, Julia!
By Fern Marder