Every day of her old age, roughly from age 85 onward, she would wake at 6:45 a.m. and start her day with prayer. Then, she’d sit in her armchair and do gymnastics while wearing headphones, which included arm and leg exercises, and finger flexing. Then she’d shower, without help from her caretakers, and finish getting ready by dousing her body in olive oil.
Meet Madam Jeanne Louise Calment, who had the longest confirmed human lifespan: 122 years, 164 days. Apparently, fate strongly approved of the way she lived her life. She was born in Arles, France, on February 21, 1875. The Eiffel Tower was built when she was 14 years old. It was at this time she met Vincent van Gogh. “He was dirty, badly dressed, and disagreeable,” she recalled in an interview given in 1988.
When she was 85, she took up fencing, and still rode her bike when she reached 100. At the age of 114, she starred in a film about her life, at age 115 she had an operation on her hip, and at age 117 she gave up smoking, having started at the age of 21 in 1896. She didn’t give it up for health reasons; her reason was that she didn’t like having to ask someone to help her light a cigarette once she was nearly blind.
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In 1965, Jeanne was 90 years old and had no heirs. She signed a deal to sell her apartment to a 47-year-old lawyer called André-François Raffray. He agreed to pay her a monthly sum of 2,500 francs on the condition he would inherit her apartment after she died. However, Raffray not only ended up paying Jeanne for 30 years, but then died before she did at the age of 77. His widow was legally obliged to continue paying Madam Calment until the end of her days.
Jeanne retained sharp mental faculties. When she was asked on her 120th birthday what kind of future she expected to have. Her reply, “A very short one.”
Here are the Rules of Life from Jeanne Louise Calment:
“I’m in love with wine.”
“All babies are beautiful.”
“I think I will die of laughter.”
“I’ve been forgotten by our Good Lord.”
“I’ve got only one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.”
“I never wear mascara; I laugh until I cry often.”
“If you can’t change something, don’t worry about it.”
“Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long life.”
“I see badly, I hear badly, and I feel bad, but everything’s fine.”
“I have a huge desire to live and a big appetite, especially for sweets.”
“I have legs of iron, but to tell you the truth, they’re starting to rust and buckle a bit.”
“I took pleasure when I could. I acted clearly and morally and without regret. I’m very lucky.”
“Being young is a state of mind, it doesn’t depend on one’s body. I’m actually still a young girl, it’s just that I haven’t looked so good for the past 70 years.”
At the end of one interview, the journalist said, “Madame, I hope we will meet again sometime next year.” To which Jeanne replied, “Why not? You’re not that old; you’ll still be here!”
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The image with the wings is a piece of art by
Someone once quipped:
“Is there life before death”?
But the question is loaded with wisdom and meaning.
As Catholics we were brought up believing that Eternal Life was the real life and that this life was the unpleasant trial that got you there.
We’re were also told that the BODY was bad and SOUL was good.
Our life on earth is one of the greatest, if not the greatest gift that God / Nature has bestowed on us.
And everything in life – relationships, food, drink, sex, travel etc is essentially good and only problematic when misused or abused by us human beings.
We should enjoy life and all its gifts to the full.
We should squeeze the last bits out of the toothpaste tube and the orange.
Of course, we are called to a certain moderation, to sharing and to an immense care for our brothers and sisters in the world.
We also know, logically and rationally, that things like smoking, alcohol abuse, drugs etc are bad for us, bad for our families and communities and and for the earth.
I have never smoked, thank God. And I enjoy a drink, good food, holidays, companionship and cars.
I also know I am called to share my money and possessions with others – and I try to do that. Not to do so is a sin.
But, for God’s sake let us not waste life or not enjoy it.
Madame Calment is an inspiration.
For me, the way to get to Eternal Heaven, is by making this life we have, as “heavenly” for ourselves and others as we can.
Jesus and the Christian Church has taught this.
Jesus said: “The Kingdom of God is already among you” Luke 17:21.
In the Christian faith we talk about the eschaton– the final time or event.
When I studied theology under Dr Tom Marsh he told us about realised eschaton and futuristic eschaton. He told is that the Kingdom is already among us – as well as waiting for us.
When Jesus was challenged about why his ciscoples were not fasting He replied:
“Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them”.
Mark 2 : 19
As Christians, who already have tge Kingdom among us, and still have the Ridegroom with us, we can still celebrate.
Madame Calment knew that. Her first act everyday for 121 years plus was prayer.
Why is it that so many Christians look as if they are at a wake and not at the celebration with the Bridegroom?