Filomena Demo is joined by her son Sergio, daughter-in-law Gail and grandson Wyatt.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Filomena Demo knows how she has managed to live to the age of 101.
"I don't worry," she said. "I pray for everyone. I thank God."
Demo shared her wisdom on Tuesday during a ceremony presenting her with the town of Williamtown's Boston Post Cane, which recognizes her as the town's oldest resident. She turns 102 next month.
The Boston Post Canes were originated by the now-defunct Boston Post in the early 1900s and were given to towns across Massachusetts and beyond to honor each town's oldest resident as a marketing ploy. With Tuesday's ceremony, Williamstown's cane has now been passed on 13 times since it was rediscovered buried in an attic in 2001 after having been missing for many years.
Because the canes have a tendency to disappear, the special gold-tipped wooden cane actually stays in the possession of the Williamstown Council on Aging, Executive Director Brian O'Grady said. Demo gets to keep a certificate instead, with which she was presented Tuesday during a ceremony at the Williamstown Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation, where she has resided since 2014.
"She's wonderful," Janice Paquette, activity director of Williamstown Commons, said of Demo, whom the Commons staff was excited to be able to honor. "It's always a surprise to know that this (oldest) resident of Williamstown resides with us."
Demo was flanked on Tuesday by her sons Sergio, and his wife, Gail, and Wyatt. Sergio Demo said his mother lived most of her life in North Adams, primarily as a homemaker but also in some mill jobs, too. He recalled what a "fantastic cook" his mother was.
She was one of seven children — five girls and two boys, he said. She is the second oldest child; three of her sisters, all in their 90s, are still alive as well, and the fourth sister just died in February at the age of 97, he said.
"Longevity is in her genes," he said. "She doing well for 102."
Demo said he did not know about the Boston Post cane before he learned his mother would be honored with it but that it was very special.
"It's a great tradition," he said. "I thought it was a great honor."
As for Filomena herself, she had two simple words as she gazed at the cane on her lap.
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