But the group that fascinates me even more is centenarians, the 100-plus crowd, and especially the "super centenarians" — people who are 110 years and older, a group that Alyce Hall is closing in on fast. It's hard to wrap your head around that, no? How many 60-year-olds could imagine living another 50 years? And what about the folks who are beyond 110 and still haven't checked out of the grand hotel called life?
Do you remember Eunice G. Sanborn? I do. I told you about her last year when she was awarded the title of the oldest living person in the whole wide world at the jaw-dropping age of 114. Eunice died Monday at her home in Jacksonville, Texas.
You'll notice I didn't say "sadly" or "unfortunately."
When someone who is 114 gets the Big Text Message From the Sky, there's not much to say other than "You go, girl!" Just think about that — Eunice Sanborn was born in 1896, four years before the 20th century began, and she died last week. Incredible.
I also have very little to tell you about exactly how to live to be 114. Then again, nor does anyone else. Gerontologists have studied it to death — maybe we should use another expression — and clarity is hard to find when it comes to how and why people live to very old age.
But all this talk about how old is old depends on who's asking the question and when. If you take a look at "old" through the Way Back Machine, there are more than a few surprises.
In the Bronze Age, life expectancy was about 35 years. Talk about early retirement. If you made it to 35 you got a bronze watch, a new club and a plaque. Granted, there were a lot of things trying to eat you back then, but that is still awfully young to be old.