This past week the world lost Emma Morano. She died at the age of 117 in Italy, making her the last known person still standing who had been born in the 1800’s.
Before she died, Emma claimed her secret to a long life was living alone. She left her abusive husband in 1938 shortly after the death in infancy of her only son. Emma says she didn’t want to be “dominated” by anyone. Her death came not long after the Guinness world record people had named her the oldest person alive last year. This was after American Susannah Mushatt died at the age of 116.
Being named the oldest person alive is probably an honor you don’t want to receive because, like most achievements in life, the thrill is short lived. There’s always another, younger person waiting to take your place.
But I guess that if you are 117 years old (or in your “hundred and tens” as they say) you’ve already gotten your affairs in order. If death catches you by surprise at that age you win the all-time prize for denial.
It used to make me a little uncomfortable when my late Father would talk about what would happen after he died. Even though I understand that everybody has to go sometime, saying it out loud to somebody 35 years older than me just seemed cruel.
But he was right. It does happen…and it did happen. And it’s going to happen.
So a big “cheers “to Emma Morano. She made it work for 117 years. As for words to live by, Emma didn’t have a lot. She did say she didn’t eat meat because she was afraid of getting cancer. So that worked out.
But that reminds me of the great singer and songwriter Warren Zevon. He did die of cancer in 2003…at the young age of 56. In the weeks before his death – knowing that his own time was coming to a close – his advice to people was this: “Enjoy every sandwich.”
Here’s a clip of Kirsten and I talking about Emma Morano on our show “Strong & Sharp,” weekday mornings 6 to 9 on Roundhouse Radio 98.3. Click here to listen.
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