Friday, February 02, 2007

World's oldest person dies again!

When I read a story about the oldest woman in the world last month, I immediately pointed it out to my daughter Lily. The story was actually about how the oldest man in the world had just died. Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico was, at 115, the oldest man, and now the news said that right in the neighboring state of Connecticut was Emma Faust Tillman who was 114. She was born in 1892, a child of former slaves. One of 23 children (although many did not actually survive childhood), she had several centarian siblings. We were excited since 114 is a big almost unimaginable number, and to know that there was a child of slaves living nearby of course reminds us that this nasty part of our history is much more recent that we admit. To give Lily some perspective, I told her that Emma Tillman was 70 when I was a newborn.

Does this type of story get published every month or so? Is there basically a long line to be oldest where the title of oldest person, oldest man, or oldest woman can only be held for so long?

I remember in my youth, there were stories of how the president would call you up on the phone if you turned 100, but now they don't bother. Does the president now call you if you become a supercentarian (110)? I believe that presidents no longer do so, because they are not likely to get any press for recognizing the milestone. In their book Having Our Say, the Sadie and Bessie Delany who were each over 100 recount their lives. They only lived to be 109 and 104 respectively.

Now that Emma Faust Tillman has passed away, Yone Minagawa age 114 of Japan has taken the lead. Since Tillman recently brought the title home (of course Puerto Rico like Connecticut is also part of the United States), there has been a lot of buzz in this area. Elizabeth Stefan of Norwalk, CT is 111 and currently the oldest person in Connecticut and 26th oldest in the world. Nebraska's Helen Stetter, of Valentine, Nebraska turned 113 in November. Edna Parker of Indiana is a little older.

This is litterally like a marathon race? Where each year the achievement gets better? In the case of the oldest person the race never ends. People join every minute and the leader drops out every week or so. And the world record times get longer and longer.

I suppose there will always be someone who will live longer than someone else and of course everyone will eventually die. It's inevitable.

P.S. Here's an update from China Daily (sorry I lack the resources to verify this one) which is obviously trying to get on the oldest person bandwagon (or perhaps they've just been hiding their 132 year old citizen from the press until now).

Oldest person has a huge family

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-06 09:15

Slam Kurban, a resident living in Jiashi County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in Northwest China, has a big family.

The 132-year-old man has six sons, four daughters, 43 grandchildren, 91 great-grandchildren and 21 great-great-grandchildren.

Born in May 1875, Slam Kurban is still in good health with good memory, eyesight, hearing and appetite, and from 2005, parts of his white hair and beard have turned black.

1 comment:

  1. on that note, i think i'll be eating a lot more vegetables and cut back on a few other things...