by Maria Schulz
It’s been a hectic time in the “oldest living woman in the world” contest. On April 1, 2015, Misao Okawa passed away just a few weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday.
My regular readers may remember that I wrote about Mrs. Okawa last year, when she was a youngster of 116. Now that she has passed on, I have read up on other supercenterians as I tried to figure out what it is that make some people live such long lives. This is what I came up with:
1. Eat well and sleep lots. In Okawa’s own words, she ate a lot of sushi and slept a lot. Uh oh…I am up after only 6 hours of sleep. I think I should go back to bed, or start eating sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner
2. Try to be Japanese, and live in hope. Okawa’s predecessor in the oldest living person in the world contest was a man named Jiroemon Kimura, also Japanese, who died at the age of 116 years, 54 days (days count here, folks). The world’s oldest man is now Sakari Mormoi, also Japanese, at 112 years, 71 days. I am not Japanese, and I have never heard of a Queens girl being crowned the oldest person in the world. But I think it’s important to have goals.
3. You’re never too old to be delighted. After Mrs. Okawa’s death, Gertrude Weaver held the title as the world’s oldest woman, at 116 years old. She was so excited, she invited President Obama to visit her on the 4th of July. Unfortunately, Ms. Weaver’s reign was brief; she died a few days later
4. Use your brain. The new oldest woman—and person—in the world is Jeralean Talley, who is 115 years, 332 days old. Ms. Talley, a.k.a. Mother Talley, credits her longevity to treating others the way she wants to be treated and using common sense: “I don’t have much education, but what little sense I got, I try to use it.”
5. Farm or Fish. Most of these supercentenerians began life in poor farming or fishing villages. You must start off life very poor, eat simply, and work hard. While I don’t farm or fish, I have been known to hunt through empty cupboards in search of food. Does that count?
6. Be lovable. Family and friends of these elders all say that they hope their 100+ year old relatives/friends live another 100 years (okay, I have a 50/50 shot at this one)
7. Be honest. Just because you’re old, it doesn’t mean you suddenly have access to the mysteries of life. Own that fact! When asked by others what the secret to her longevity was, Ms. Okawa said, “I wonder about that too.”
8. Don’t give up your hobbies. Ms. Talley bowled until she was 104, when her legs became too weak. But she still goes fishing with her friends and she caught 7 catfish at the age of 114. She also likes to sew dresses and quilts, and play the slot machines. Hmmm…I can’t sew, don’t gamble, and again, I can’t fish. But I can see myself bowling at 117 years old. Plus, if watching Dancing With The Stars is considered a hobby, I may live for 200 years
9. Eat your own cooking. Ms. Weaver attributed her advanced age to being good to everybody and only eating her own cooking. I’m totally in on the being good to everybody part, but I may have another problem here. I tend to like everybody else’s cooking better than my own
10. Stay active in your community. Mother Talley is considered such an inspiration that her church celebrated her 114th birthday by naming their new driveway after her. I can only hope that on my 114th birthday, my church sends me a card
11. Watch those calories. Alexander Imich, who lived to be 111 years old and was the world’s oldest living man before Sakari Mormoi, attributed his longevity to calorie restriction. I have to say, I watch my calories every day. I just don’t restrict them. Hmmmm….I’m hoping to be the world’s oldest person who attributes their advanced age to cupcakes, Life cereal, and Famous Amos cookies.
12. No matter how much time you get, it still isn’t enough. When asked on her 117th birthday what she thought about her lengthy life, Ms. Okawa said, “life seems short.” You said it, sister.
I have never made sushi at home, but I’m always up for a challenge. I just hope my family is in an adventurous mood that night. For you non-sushi lovers, try the chicken teriyaki recipe listed below. It looks delicious!
So, what’s your favorite “good for you” food? What do you think the secret to a long life is? Which hobby do you think you’ll still be doing at 104? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!