She was only number one for a few days, but Gertrude Weaver enjoyed her moment in the glare of global attention. What had Gertrude achieved to deserve this attention? She had stayed alive. That’s right, for six days the Arkansas woman was the world’s oldest-known living person according to Stuff and she loved every minute of it.

“Weaver, who said the key to longevity was to treat people kindly, basked in her brief moment in the global spotlight. She enjoyed being read news articles about being the oldest person on the planet, said Kathy Langley, the administrator of the Silver Oaks Health & Rehabilitation Center in Camden, Arkansas.”

Gertrude Weaver was born on July 4 (an auspicious day for an American!) way back in 1898. According to the Gerontology Research Group, which validates the ages of the world’s longest-living people, there are only three people alive now with birth records which show that they were born in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, Weaver is no longer one of this group. After an extremely long life, and hopefully an extremely fulfilled and happy one, she has gone to meet her Maker. And her baton has been passed to Jeralean Talley, another American who will turn 116 next month (her birthday is May 23, 1899). Talley, who lives in Detroit, bowled until she was 104 (I assume this means lawn bowls and not 10 pin bowling…?) never smoked, never drank alcohol and has only had surgery once: to remove her tonsils. When asked what she credits with her longevity, Talley replied not with a what, but a whom: “It’s the Lord. Everything is in His hands.”

I will turn 116 in the year 2101. I expect that we will have jetpacks and flying cars by then. 

Marcus Roberts was two years out of law school when he decided that practising law was no longer for him. He therefore went back to university and did his LLM while tutoring. He now teaches contract and...