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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

The Guardian finds 100 centenarians to share tips for a long life well-lived

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

What a wonderful Guardian article this is, by Philippa Kelly (and Kitty Drake) – – brimming with well-worn wisdom:

‘Keep your eyes open, leap into the future, never stay stuck in the past, keep a diary… and dance while you still can!’

If ever there was a case for the spiritual dividend of so many of us living into extreme old age these days, this is it. Our thanks to Terry Martin, trustee of the charity Caraway (a Christian charity that promotes and celebrates the wisdom and richness of old age) and occasional essayist on these blog pages, writes Debbie Thrower, for highlighting the fact that his own mother is among the interviewees.

Doris Martin is 102, lives in Essex, and still remembers every single one of her offspring’s and their children’s birthdays. And there are quite a few of them… nineteen and counting!

I especially liked the sound of Amelia Mendel, who is 106 and has been an actor and couture saleswoman, living in London:

‘Having an interesting life has helped me to grow old. I have great memories to talk about. The staff at my home chase after me as I charge down the corridors on my Zimmer frame. If I don’t want to get out of bed, I refuse to, because I can – I’m an old lady.’

The voices of these men and women from across the continents ring with authenticity. Inevitably some who were interviewed have died in the interval between then and publication. Like, Sokola Radonic, 101, a homemaker in Zagreb, Croatia:

‘What contributed to my longevity? Nature, food, singing in a choir until my 80s and dancing. You need to have lots of patience and to endure some things. You shouldn’t quit right away. For happiness, health is the most important – and love for other people. Wealth is in last place.’

A footnote tells us: Sokola Radonic died on 28 November 2022. She is survived by two children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Dip into the roll call of fascinating centenarians yourself – you’ll be entertained and I guarantee it will make you think. What might you or I say if asked from the vantage point of a very long life?

I remember a spiritual exercise I was once asked to complete – write your own obituary. I tried it, and it was a salutary experience. I very soon realised all the things I thought were important at the time weren’t so very significant after all. You might have a go yourself?

We asked our mother once what she’d want as her epitaph. She replied, quick as a flash:

‘Never mean with the butter.’

She was right, you know.




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