In search of the oldest person on earth

One would think that this would be an easy task, but nothing could be farther from the truth

One would think that, with all the communication systems available today this would be an easy task, but nothing could be farther from the truth!

It had started with a telephone conversation I had the day before with Klaus, my brother-in-law, who lives in Bonn, Germany.

Just three years younger than myself he, too, is interested in all matters “senior”.

“I just read,” he told me, “that boys being born now in Germany have a life expectancy of 79.3 years while girls with an average of 83 years are slightly ahead.”

This, of course, only relates to Germany and might differ from country to country.

Just a few days later, for instance, it was reported by the CBC, our canadian TV network, that they think they found the oldest man living here in Canada: Iasrael Crystal, survivor of the infamous Auschwitz Death Camp who, according to his records, is now 120 years old.

Soon enough, however, he was challenged by a woman who lives in Laval, Quebec.

This lady came to Canada from Haiti after the devastating earthquake there in the year 2010, but cannot produce enough evidence to support her claim that she is 120 years old.

In any case, there have been a number of reports of “high age senior citizens” in Canada and we can easily find some even in our own neighborhood.

I met a lady who had just celebrated her 100th birthday at the end of last year, for instance.

She told me that there was nothing wrong with her except for eyesight—she was legally blind—but that it was amazing how this affects everything.

She asked me if I like to sing.

“Yes,” I said, “what kind of songs do you like?”

“Well,” she said, “I pretty much like all songs, but English tavern songs are my favourites.”

I started to sing “There Is A Tavern In The Town” and she chimed right in—only she remembered the words much better than I did!

Right before Christmas I attended a Christmas concert at Logan Manor and sat right next to her.

This was not a sing-along, this was a concert with audience participation.

There was a slight problem, however: the performing group had not brought along enough song sheets and hoped that we all would remember the words anyhow.

Well, the only person who did and sang all songs with a strong voice and by memory was the one hundred year old lady.

When we complimented her she simply said, “I should know these songs, I have been singing them often enough.”

I feel fortunate to have met her because, when I came for another visit last January, I was told that she had passed away.

“We all are surprised,” I was told, “even at our New Year’s Eve party she was still singing and dancing.”

Ruthy, my alter-ego, who had been quiet all through my story, looked up and said, “What a way to go!”

But then, she added, “did you not want to find the oldest person living in Canada or even in the world?”

“Yes,” I said, “and this was a good start, wasn’t it?”

What a gutsy lady, a true representative of many others among us who are lucky enough having lived long enough and being able to talk about it.

“You know,” Ruthy said, “you might be onto something!”