"Lively and engaged, voracious consumers of life."
November 18, 2015 2:36 PM   Subscribe

It's interesting to me that both had basically no child rearing/house keeping duty (one with no children or spouse and the other with a housekeeper/nanny). I'd love to see those kinds of statistics for all centenarians. Thanks for the post!
posted by threesquare at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Those women are just cool! But seriously, I REALLY don't want to live that long... I'm already tired and I'm only 34!
posted by JenThePro at 2:55 PM on November 18, 2015 [7 favorites]

Me too JenThe Pro! Came here to say, I'll probably be working at 102 and not by choice!!
posted by Melismata at 3:06 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think it's really important to point out that "a housekeeper/nanny" does not mean a parent has no child rearing duty.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:16 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

My husband's grandmother is a few months shy of 102, but I believe she is still having the occasional phone session with patients (she's a psychiatrist). She's starting to physically slow down a bit, but she remains a downright terrifying (but very sweet) force of nature with a list of personal and professional accomplishments longer than I would have to show in several lifetimes. She managed to break her hip last year after traveling down to Mexico by herself, and broke a leg a few years earlier on a solo excursion to Yosemite where she had scrambled off a path in search of a better photo, but she's still getting up and about. She emails, Skypes, and shops on Amazon with greater ease than my parents, and she's still making plans for more travel. I think my in-laws have finally wrested the car keys away from her, but I think that only happened after the Mexico incident. I'm reasonably sure she will outlive us all, or possibly ascend to Asgard as a Valkyrie.
posted by Diagonalize at 3:17 PM on November 18, 2015 [51 favorites]

Sorry, didn't mean to imply that she had no child rearing duty, maybe just less compared to the typical American woman.

I'm really tired too and less than half their age... I could only dream of living that long in good health.
posted by threesquare at 3:42 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

voracious consumers of life

These women are

A) Metal as fuck
B) Actually lizard-people
C) Entangled in a culture which valorizes consumption in baffling ways
D) All of the above
posted by clockzero at 4:11 PM on November 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

Incredible! Glad they are in good spirits. I know a lot of younger elderly folks who don't have it so good. Getting old sucks, one of them tells us every chance she gets.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:30 PM on November 18, 2015

My grandmother is still going reasonably strong at 95, although not as strong as these women. It's tempting to attribute healthy longevity to lifestyle factors, but I think a lot of it is probably luck of the draw. A lot of my grandmother's family members also lived into their 90s. They all mostly worked crappy jobs, retired as soon as they could, didn't quit smoking until late middle age, had crappy marriages, and were otherwise nobody's idea of a role-model for healthy living.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:45 PM on November 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Shapiro's art is also really interesting! I hope I'm around that long.
posted by freecellwizard at 4:46 PM on November 18, 2015

Metafilter: That only happened after the Mexico incident.

Great story, Diagonalize!
posted by kandinski at 4:55 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

JenThePro: "Those women are just cool! But seriously, I REALLY don't want to live that long... I'm already tired and I'm only 34!"

I do. I'm 52 and am pretty damn annoyed at how little time I might have left. I've got books to read and movies to watch and places to go and video games to play and art to learn and beer to drink. Fifty more years doesn't even seem like enough.
posted by octothorpe at 4:55 PM on November 18, 2015 [26 favorites]

Wow, imagine being a mom at 102. You could potentially outlive your 70-year old children.
posted by picklenickle at 5:08 PM on November 18, 2015

Outliving my children is something I absolutely positively do not want to do. Nope nope nope. I better go first.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:11 PM on November 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

my own husband's grandmother and grandfather celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this past April. They are in their mid 90s. Grandma (a practicing psychiatrist) still takes a full caseload of patients. Grandpa designed, built and runs the website for their hobby shop, and remains engaged in the day to day business of keeping it running, although most of the daily physical work of managing the store has gone to his son.

They are an amazing couple, and my primary role models for remaining curious, busy and engaged in life.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:46 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm with octothorpe. Fifty down here; I'll need a couple more sets of fifty to even come close to doing everything I want to do.

Though this fact always sobers me: my Victorian-era aunt lived more than a century. She outlived all of her own generation, and also all of the following generation.
posted by kanewai at 7:01 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

if i live to 102 you better fucking believe i am going to be a godless blood-of-the-innocents drinking immortal or a brain in a jar in the driver's seat of a jaeger or im gonna be fucking pissed
posted by poffin boffin at 7:13 PM on November 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

There's a difference between getting old and getting older, and these ladies have mastered the latter without succumbing to the former. Three of my four grandparents lived into their 90s, so I'm halfway there. Now, I'm inspired.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:41 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

The women in my family tend to live forever-- my great-grandmother made it to 97 and was still sharp for all but the last year or two. We did have a bit of a scare in her early 90s, but it turned out she'd just never told anyone about how she and my great-grandfather had eloped, so her insistence that "Harry was in Europe when we got married!" didn't make any sense until she told us the whole story.
posted by nonasuch at 9:44 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

! (or whatever the opposite of ' . ' is)
posted by JiffyQ at 10:10 PM on November 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

| | voracious consumers of life
| Entangled in a culture which valorizes consumption in baffling ways

And not just that. Even when it's celebratory, I always find it a bit off-putting when people who are over 85-90 or so and still active and relatively healthy are othered in this weird sort of way. It's like they are no longer seen as real people but rather these venerated, wrinkly, human-like objects of fascination. (This phenomenon is certainly not unique to just old people, but I find that this pretty consistently happens with them.) That phrase in the article could just as well apply to an average child, but it would never be used to describe one.
posted by jklaiho at 11:22 PM on November 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

I always find it a bit off-putting when people who are over 85-90 or so and still active and relatively healthy are othered in this weird sort of way.

Me too and moreso when coupled with that weird Calvinist obsession with work and working hard late in life.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:23 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

My local NPR station just ran a story yesterday on a Village Trustee who is 100 yrs old. She was the also the first woman elected as mayor in that Village in 1977 and served in government for 30 years. It was a great listen, wish I had half her energy and I'm not even half her age.
posted by saffry at 7:28 AM on November 19, 2015

Warmhearted response: these women both seem like fascinating, engaged people.

Bitter cynical response: Great. I'm still gonna be sitting at this damn desk doing this really boring job when I'm a hundred and two, and there'll be articles about how much I'm still "living" life. How long before I pick up a baseball bat with my wrinkled centenarian hands and go after some photographer?
posted by JanetLand at 7:35 AM on November 19, 2015

For what it's worth, I rarely speak of my husband's other grandmother in such glowing terms as I did of the one above, although she also made it to 101. This is largely because I didn't know her as well, but her life was also far simpler, making it harder to paint in broad strokes. She was a housewife who raised a family, kept a beautiful home and garden, and had a taste for rich foods. That makes her sound very bland, which is unfair and untrue. While I never found a personal role model in her, that doesn't mean her life was any less well-lived or worthy of praise.

There is a tendency to laud the very young and the very aged as though their age is the accomplishment, but for both of the women I mentioned, I don't measure their worth in how many years they've lived, but their many accomplishments, the challenges they overcame, and the lives they touched. One of the primary benefits to long life is simply having more time to get things done, and I think that for most people, it'd be hard to live to 100 and not have done at least one thing worthy of mention, and because I have cared about these women and the people they cared for, I try to focus on their best qualities.

At the extreme end, longevity really seems to be the luck of the draw, and my husband's remaining grandmother would be the first to tell you that, but she has continued to make the most of her luck by staying productive, engaged, and up to date with society, even though most of her contemporaries have died or are comfortably resting on their laurels. That's the hard part, not the birthdays. She was given the precious gift of time and health, and she's done her best not to squander it, despite enormously demanding changes in culture and technology. Time catches up to us all in the end, but I've never seen much harm in admiring, or even slightly envying those who are permitted to face it with grace.

This is doubly true when confronted with a (genetically speaking) potentially immortal spouse.
posted by Diagonalize at 9:26 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

My main concern about living to be 100 is that I fear that by the 2080's the world may have become a truly terrifying place as a result of climate change and its second-order effects (mass migration, conflict, etc). Of course that could happen sooner too! But the longer I live the worse the impacts I will have a chance of seeing. I know that sounds really depressing, and it's not that I think it's all hopeless or anything but I'm a realist and I've read the science. Otherwise, though, I'm with octothorpe: I don't want to die because I have too many books to read.
posted by Asparagus at 9:34 AM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

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