Sunday, September 15, 2013

World’s oldest man dies, and world’s oldest-feeling man hangs on to dear life

Today I read that Sulustiano Sanchez-Blazquez of New York died at age 112. He was the oldest man in the world, or at least the oldest man whose age could be proved. His birth certificate showed he was born June 8, 1901. He said he ate a banana every day, and that’s why he got to be so old. Order me up a bunch.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Sally and I knew several people who were born in the nineteenth century. Our grandmothers, for instance. But they died in the 1980s, and then their children, our parents, who were born sometime around World War I or shortly thereafter, began to die in great numbers.

The world’s oldest woman, as I write this, was born in South Africa in 1894, so does that mean she is the last living person who was born in the nineteenth century? That can’t be true. Somewhere there have to be other people who are supercentenarians, but born in places where birth records were spotty, or even non-existent. We forget in our Internet age that there are people out there whose births, lives and deaths go basically unrecorded.

Maybe there is a village tucked away in the Himalayas, unknown to anyone but its residents, where the people live to be 200-years-old on a diet of yogurt and yak-butter, and are still chopping wood at age 150 with all the vigor of a 30-year-old in our society. Maybe, but we have pretty much covered the planet in the twentieth century, and hidden places are no longer hidden.

Along with the article on the world’s oldest man today I read that nursing home care for us Baby Boomers will be half of what it is for people now in nursing homes. They are talking about twenty years from now, when those of us born in the years right after World War II will start hitting our eighties, if we live that long. That’s because we had less children than our parents. We were heeding the call for zero population growth when we started our families and now our concern for the planet has come back to bite us on the butt!

In the meantime, despite the headline of today’s post, I feel pretty good. I’m not sure how 66-years-old is supposed to feel. I have arthritis, my joints are wearing out, I need stronger reading glasses every year, and I’m thinking of buying an ear trumpet so I can hear what my wife says to me, but other than that, I seem to be moving into my dotage fairly well.


In her declining years, but before she got deep into her dementia, my mother watched a lot of television, and thought the commercials featuring the tiny Pillsbury Doughboy were cute.

Since I was always grasping for ideas as to what to give her for Christmas, when she told me that I seized on getting her some merchandise using that character. I bought her some mixing bowls, salt and pepper shakers, and a Pillsbury Doughboy cookie jar. A few months later I noticed she had not put them out on her counter. I asked her why and she hemmed and hawed a bit, but my brother later told me, “She is afraid they will come to life.”


The other day Sally and I were cleaning out some stuff from the basement and found those items, which I had brought from my mother's apartment when she went into an Alzheimer’s nursing home. We put them on display in our kitchen, which now looks basically like a stall in an antiques mall, but I digress.

I woke up the other night and thought, wouldn’t it be creepy to walk out into the kitchen and have these little doughboys running around on the floor? Then I thought, man, I am entertaining my own dementia. I turned on a light and read a book for a while and went back to sleep. The doughboys, as you can see in the above photo, are right where we put them.


I am aware of the way men’s and women’s minds work, and when we look at the same thing we can see something different. Perhaps I should say we may focus on something different than someone of the opposite sex.

I have an e-mail correspondent, who is a friend of both Sally and me. Trying to prove my point of different perceptions I sent her this picture and said, “I’ll bet when you look at this picture of the girl in the white jacket you notice first the fashion, the jacket and boots. Me, my first thought on seeing the picture is, "I think she’s naked under that coat!”

She wrote back, “I was thinking exactly the same thing. So what does that make me?” Well, I didn’t think that made her anything...I just need to find a less-obvious picture to test my theory.

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