Ageing has always fascinated me. Our elderly citizens have lived through some of the biggest events in world history, and I’ve always felt compelled to find out more about them and their stories. I worked in a nursing home in my late teens and encountered some the oldest people I’ve ever met. Their stories were more compelling than what I could ever imagined; from paratroopers who’d narrowly avoided death during World War II, to women who defied what was expected of them long before the feminist movement.
The oldest person I’ve ever met, Molly, was 102. Her daughter, who was almost eighty herself, would regularly visit Molly in the nursing home. Molly had the thinnest skin I’d ever seen, and hair that was whiter than snow. At that point in her life, she couldn’t speak, and I always wondered how she felt having lived long enough to see her daughter grow into an old woman as well. It made me wonder if the longevity was genetic, as Molly’s daughter was an incredibly sprightly and fresh-faced woman for her age.
Would You Like To Live To A Hundred?
My grandmother turns 88 in 2017. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and if she makes it to 100, she’ll receive a letter from the Queen. I think she’d like that. Her age bodes well for my own longevity, but having seen the effects of ageing first-hand at a young age, I don’t think I’d want to live a particularly long life unless I remained healthy until the end. But compared the oldest people who’ve ever lived, my grandmother and the people I cared for in the nursing home were young. Their stories are truly remarkable…