All of us worry about aging. Perhaps we should worry less–and learn from a pro. So, who’s the oldest person who ever lived?
The oldest woman (that can be documented) is Jeanne Louise Calment. She lived to the age of 122.
Born in Arles, France, February 21, 1875, and left this earth on August 4, 1997. Now, that’s impressive–but what’ more impressive is her mindset, her ability to embrace challenges and change. If anything is the key to longevity–with quality–it’s embracing challenges and changes with a measure of wit and grace.
What attributes do you need to live a long, healthy, and meaningful life? Living past 100 isn’t just about longevity–it’s about quality. Being a caregiver, I got to see “old age” close up. My mom lived to the age of 92 and it was only the last two years that were extremely difficult. ( My mom had Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and heart disease). There isn’t always rhyme or reason why one person makes it well past 100 with a sharp mind and a spry body while another person seems to hit one health problem after another.
Many centenarians have eaten what they wanted, smoked, drank (usually in moderation)–while someone else who tries to follow all the rules finds a not so pleasant diagnosis. Life isn’t fair. That’s a mantra we must embrace–and not in a negative way–but by choosing to love what is kind of way, and knowing the only thing we can change is our attitude. Life’s a crap shoot, so let’s play some craps.
Highlights of Jeanne’s Louise Calment’s Amazing Life:
- Born the year Tolstoy published Anna Karennina
- Born one year after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
- She met Vincent Van Gogh in Arles, her home town, when she was just 14. She wasn’t impressed.
- In the end Calment was blind and almost deaf, but she kept her spunk and sharp wit to the end.
- At age 121, she released her two CDs, one in French and another in English titled, Maitresse du Temps (Time’s Mistress). the CD features a rap and other songs. She wrote or contributed to five books.
- Her husband died of a dessert tainted with spoiled cherries–she was a widow for more than half a century.
- She outlived her only daughter who died of pneumonia at the age of 36. She raised her grandson who became a medical doctor and lived him as well (he died in a car accident in 1963).
- Calment took up fencing at the age of 80, and rode her bike until 100.
- Calment enjoyed port wine and a diet rich in olive oil–and chocolate–two pounds a day.
- At the age of 119 she finally agreed to give up sweets and smoking–because she could no longer see to light up.
- Calment enjoyed a life of relative ease–from a bourgeois family, she always had enough money–not wealthy mind you, but enough.
- She was active–and enjoyed tennis, bicycling, swimming, roller skating, piano and even opera. In her later years she sold some of her real estate and lived comfortably in a nursing home in Arles until her passing. She was affectionately known in France as “Jeanne D’Arles.”
Calment’s attitude and longevity s attributed to her decision not to worry: ”She never did anything special to stay in good health,” said French researcher Jean-Marie Robine. She once said “ If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.”
Calment recommended laughter as a recipe for longevity and jokes that “God must have forgotten about me.” ( L’Oubliee de Dieu?) as her reason for her long life.
For skin care, she recommended olive oil and a dab of make-up. “All my life I’ve put olive oil on my skin and then just a puff of powder. I could never wear mascara, I cried too often when I laughed.”
“I’ve waited 110 years to be famous, I count on taking advantage of it,” she quipped at her 120th birthday party.
Also on her 120th birthday, when asked what kind of future did she expect, she replied “A very short one.”
Getting used to growing media attention with every year that passes, she quips: “I wait for death… and journalists.”
“When you’re 117, you see if you remember everything!” She rebuked an interviewer once.
On her 120th birthday, a man in town said, “Until next year, perhaps.”
“I don’t see why not,” she replied. “ You don’t look so bad to me.”
Clement’s Best Quote:
“I’ve never had but one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.”
I don’t know about you, but aging like this doesn’t sound too bad. It sounds like a good life.
Enjoy life, learn to let go–even of those you love, crack a good joke, eat what you love, and don’t worry about the rest.
Mothering Mother is now available as an e-book! (click here to order for your Kindle)