NYC centenarian survives coronavirus in time to celebrate 107th birthday

Coronavirus survivor Frances Abbracciamento turns 107 this week.
Coronavirus survivor Frances Abbracciamento turns 107 this week.(Courtesy photo)

Centenarian Frances Abbracciamento of Queens had caught a cold in late March during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in New York. Days later the 106-year-old was diagnosed with pneumonia, and her four children prepared for the worst.
“We really thought we were going to lose her,” her daughter, Alda Spina, told the Daily News.
But by the end of April, Abbracciamento, who will celebrate her 107th birthday this week, had made a near-full recovery — and it was only then that her family learned she had survived coronavirus.
Frances Abbracciamento's engagement picture from February 1940.
Frances Abbracciamento's engagement picture from February 1940.(Courtesy photo)
“We couldn't believe it,” said Spina, who received her mom’s COVID-19 test results on April 21. “I never thought in a million years she would survive it. People don't survive it.”
Abbracciamento plans to celebrate her birthday — and beating the odds — at her Breezy Point home on Saturday.
“Everyone needs to be grateful and count their blessings every day,” said Abbracciamento, who said she is looking forward to enjoying a plate of spaghetti doused in her son-in-law’s Bolognese sauce.
Spina said she’s still in awe of her mom’s miraculous recovery, but she’s not completely surprised. Abbracciamento survived the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 when tens of millions died worldwide, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and a broken hip and shoulder at age 101.
“Mom is a Taurus,” said Spina, referring to her mother’s astrological sign. “She is a fighter.”
Abbracciamento, the daughter of Italian immigrants, was born in East New York, Brooklyn in 1913. The young equestrian later attended Brooklyn College and married Salvatore Abbracciamento when she was 26 years old. The couple ran a restaurant called Sal Abbracciamento on Liberty Ave. while raising two daughters and two sons. She ran another eatery at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in Flushing.
After her husband died in 1966, Abbracciamento ran the Bay Terrace restaurant in Breezy Point in the early 1970s and also served as president of the District 19 school board for nearly two decades. She is the matriarch of her family, with four children, nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Frances Abbracciamento.
Frances Abbracciamento.
“(When she was sick) I always consoled myself with the thought that my mom had this wonderful life that gave her a great deal of joy,” Spina said of the realization Abbracciamento may not pull through. “I came to a lot of decisions in my head — but your mom is your mom, you’re never prepared.”

Spina first noticed her mom was under the weather the week of March 23. As the days passed, her condition worsened, and even Abbracciamento didn’t think she would survive.
“I think I’m dying,” she told her son Frank from the comfort of her home, where she remained throughout her illness. “Let me go, it’s my time.”
But to the surprise of her doctors, Abbracciamento’s health improved over the next month. On April 24, she sat at her dining room table for a ravioli dinner. The following day she was out on her deck enjoying the spring sun.
“A lot of people moan and groan. That’s not mom’s style,” Spina said. “I don’t know what will happen next, no one knows. But right now she’s having a really good day … and when I think of what she has done in life for people, I think God wanted to give us back this woman for a little longer.”

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