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Grace Lepane. (Photo: Courtesy of Fox 10 via Facebook).

The O’Toole Chronicles: Living a Long Life

By Kevin O'Toole, January 03 2023 12:01 am

I was watching an interview the other day and they were highlighting the 107th birthday of Grace Lepane. Grace was asked her key to living this long and her response was simple – “Stay Happy.” I can only imagine that is easier said than done.

In this day and age, it becomes more challenging for people to stay happy. Whether it be Covid, rising political tensions, worrying about the economy, deep concern about a world war, professional jealousy, increasing costs to live, job security, our children, social media pressures, political correctness or something else, there seems to be more hurdles that stand in the direct path to obtaining a state of happiness.

Where do we turn for help?

I have long maintained that when you have a problem you should consult an expert in that field. Despite the fact that the internet has tried its best to make experts of us all, the reality is a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. When you have a leak in your kitchen sink, call a plumber. If you have an issue with a legal matter, consult a lawyer. Dealing with a nagging medical issue, see a medical specialist (not WebMD). Similarly, when seeking out the truth on how to stay alive longer, let’s go to those who have outlived them all.

I did a little internet research and found a number of articles that offered varying degrees of advice.  One article profiled 10 senior citizens who lived over one hundred years and each offered some advice.  Here is a brief list of the ten with some concise takeaways and bits of advice:

  • Ralph Burgess Tarrant (110 years old): Enjoy the vices, as well as many of the virtues. Stay active and interested;
  • Reg Deen (110 years old): While traveling in India, before WWII, Reg did a favor for a local resident. In return the local resident gave Reg a muddy drink and said drink this and you will live until at least 100 years of age. Reg credits that strange brew for him living until the age of 110;
  • Jiroeman Kimura (116 years old): Pretty straight forward advice — eat smaller portions;
  • Jeanne Louise Calment (122 years old): Oldest person ever recorded smoked 2 cigarettes a day for 100 years. She drank port wine every day and ate up to two pounds of chocolate a week;
  • Christian Mortensen (115 years old): Live a good clean life, filled with friends, pure water, a fine Danish cigar on occasion, no alcohol, and lots of singing;
  • Besse Cooper (116 years old): Don’t eat junk food and mind your own business;
  • Susannah Mushatt Jones (116 years old): Don’t drink, never party, eat eggs, grits and 4 strips of bacon each day;
  • Emma Morano (116 years old): Have 3 eggs a day, have a positive outlook, drink brandy daily, and occasionally have chocolate;
  • Fred Hale Sr. (113 years old): Eat raw honey daily and have an occasional whiskey;
  • Emiliano Mercado del Toro (115 years old): “Funche” holds the key to a long life. Funche is a mix of boiled cod, cornmeal and coconut milk.

Well,  we have heard from the experts and you should feel free to pick and choose from each the advice that fits you the best (My personal favorite was Besse Cooper). The reality is only one in every 5,000 will live to the age of 100 years old. Two in every 100,000 women will see their 110th birthday and 2 in one million men will see their 110th birthday.

We should leave off where we started, we are on this earth for a set period of time and we should BE HAPPY as long as we are still standing upright. We should strive to find happiness in each day and look forward to jumping out of bed amped up for the exciting possibilities of the new day. The sad truth is that we all know people who are bitter, disillusioned, or just plain unhappy with their lot in life. We should all own our positions, and work to improve what we don’t like. Life is for the living and we need to surround ourselves with positive forces and people, while avoiding the downers who love to spread their misery.

Now as Besse Cooper said, I will mind my own business, but it’s a new year – Be Happy!

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