‘Little Nana’ celebrates 100 years
By Sue Wambolt, Community Advocate
Southborough – Aldona Bernadette Motuzas (Charbonnier), who turns 100 Monday, March 11, has eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. She has lived through the deaths of her parents, her siblings and her best friends, but she continues to live on her own. “Little Nana,” as she is called, is a woman of great independence.
For Aldona, the key to a happy life lies in a loving family.
“The most important thing is to love your family,” Aldona said. “I just love my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren – every last one of them – they mean everything to me.”
Granddaughter Donna Campbell echoed these sentiments when describing her relationship with Little Nana.
“We all feel so loved by Little Nana – she means the world to us. It is nice to know that she is always there to talk to,” she said.
Aldona was born in Cambridge, March 11, 1913. She grew up in Brighton, the fourth of five children. Aldona is the daughter of Patricia, a midwife and seamstress, and Joseph, a butcher. Aldona’s mother passed away from tuberculosis at the age of 34, when Aldona was just 8 years old. Her father, whom Aldona said was a wonderful man, passed away in 1943.
As a teenager and young adult, Aldona spent her weekends ballroom dancing. She danced to the music of big bands orchestrated by the likes of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. Most weekend nights, after dancing at her local high school, Aldona would travel to Waltham to dance the night away at Netting’s Ballroom. Aldona competed in dance competitions and won many. One of her favorite songs to dance to was “Always” by Irving Berlin.
Aldona married Jules Charbonnier in April of 1932. He worked for the railroad and had a small oil business. He also served in WWII as a sailor in the Navy. Together, they had two children: a son, Bob, and a daughter, Carol (Carol Charbonnier Lamson of Southborough).
To Aldona, marriage meant taking care of her husband – buying all of his suits, putting sugar in his coffee and preparing meals to eat together with the children (especially on Sundays).
Aldona and Jules moved to Southborough in 1954. She worked for more than 10 years as a waitress at Giombetti’s restaurant. In 1986 Jules passed away from cancer.
“Little Nana is still shoveling snow, going grocery shopping, taking care of her dog and even cooking us her famous cheese pancakes if we’re lucky! She is independent, completely self-sufficient and is one of the strongest women I know (although she wouldn’t agree),” her great granddaughter Chelsea Campbell said.
Aldona is also a self-proclaimed peacemaker. Her positive attitude is not lost on Chelsea, who lives in Southborough with her parents, Keith and Donna, and her siblings Dylan and McKenzie.
“To this day I have never heard Little Nana say anything bad about anyone or even anything negative at all. She is always caring about everyone else – concerned with how work and school are going and making sure that we are all safe, eating well and getting enough rest. Little Nana likes to make sure everyone one is happy,” Chelsea said. “I am very excited about her 100th birthday.”
To Aldona’s daughter, Carol (“Big Nana”), Aldona represents a warm and loving matriarch.
“Little Nana is a wonderful mother, grandmother and great grandmother and she is an inspiration to the entire family,” she said.
Aldona hopes to spend her 100th birthday doing what she loves the most – surrounding herself with her family and treasuring every moment spent together.
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