December 12, 2006

A long and happy life

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden, the world's oldest woman dies at age 116.... Everyone wishes for a long and happy life. Hopefully hers was a happy life. One thing is for sure - she will be missed by many. She had "40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, 150 great-great-grandchildren, 220 great-great-great grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great grandchildren." She was born on August 15, 1890. Incidentally, she became the world's oldest person earlier this year after Maria Ester de Capovilla of Ecuador, the last documented person to be born in the 1880s (born in 1889), died. Imagine that... Nehru or Charlie Chaplin or Hitler could have been still alive!

Also, after Bolden's death, a man, Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico, born August 21, 1891, is the world's oldest person. This ends a streak of 16 women in a row holding the title of the oldest person, with the last male to hold the title being Shigechiyo Izumi in 1986, although his longevity has long been disputed. In fact, nine of the top ten oldest persons are female, with the grand-mommy of oldest of all being Jeanne Louise Calment of France, who lived from Feb 21, 1875 to August 4, 1997, with the longest confirmed lifespan in history of 122 years and 164 days. According to wikipedia, 'her lifespan has been thoroughly documented by scientific study; more records have been produced to verify her age than for any other case.' The wiki entry also has this interesting tidbit about her life...
In 1965, aged 90, with no living heirs, Jeanne Calment signed a deal, common in France, to sell her condominium apartment en viager to lawyer François Raffray. Raffray, then aged 47, agreed to pay a monthly sum until she died, an agreement sometimes called a "reverse mortgage". At the time of the deal the value of the apartment was equal to ten years of payments. Unfortunately for Raffray, not only did she survive more than thirty years, but he died first, in December 1995, of cancer, at the age of 77. His widow had to continue the payments.
Talk about an unexpected turn of events! :)

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