It might be a sign of my advancing age but I found the recent report of the death of the world's oldest person humorous. Let me explain.
Gertrude Baines died a few days ago in Los Angeles at the ripe age of 115. Gertrude appeared in a much watched You Tube video clip last year when she voted for Barack Obama. The world's oldest person is now believed to be Kama Chinen, who lives in Japan. But Gertrude lived in Los Angeles. My first response was very very simple: "How does the world's oldest person live in L.A.?" You have to be kidding I thought to myself. L.A.? Smog, traffic and too many people. L.A.?
Gertrude Baines was born in Shellman, Georgia, on April 6, 1894, when Grover Cleveland was in the White House, radio communication was just being developed and television was still more than a half-century from becoming a ubiquitous household presence.
She was 4 years old when the Spanish-American War broke out and 9 when the first World Series was ever played. This means Gertrude actually 14 when the Cubs won their last Word Series. Amazing. There aren't many of them around. She had already only reached middle age by the time the U.S. entered World War II in 1941.
But Gertrude's diet is what really impressed me. She said that she lived to be 115 on a steady diet of crispy bacon, fried chicken and ice cream. I thought to myself, "That has to be the diet of choice for a long life!" Finally, I could stop feeling guilty about my dish of ice cream or some of my other food choices. The guilt is gone. I even enjoyed a chocolate brownie dessert yesterday with a friend. Gertrude has to be my new icon of diet and health. Who could argue with such a choice given the evidence of Gertrude Baines' long life?
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That just proves that 1) your days are numbered and you can’t do anything to change it, and 2) that while to a degree diet is important, your genetic makeup can override some of your dietary choices.
I heard a similar story about a centenarian some years back. The man claimed a pint of whiskey (or was it a fifth?) and two packs of smokes per day for over 80 years. Then there are the super athletes who drop dead while running.
What insurance company would insure that guy?