Grande Dame Lucy
By Maxwell Pereira
maxpk@vsnl.com

They say with the advancement and development in society, the life expectancy of us homo sapiens has generally been getting longer. Even so, in this day and age it is rarely that one comes across a centenarian, and more rare is a supercentenarian who has crossed 110. Unlike the time when we grew up, for I remember, there were many among us Mangaloreans who could then boast of more than one member in the family who had crossed a hundred.

Documented in history are around eight hundred supercentenarians, doubtless a fraction of the number who have really lived, but the majority of claims to this age do not normally have sufficient documentary support to be regarded as validated. This is now changing as those born after birth registration was standardized in more countries and parts of countries attain supercentenarian age. Three different types of documentation are used to verify ages – birth or baptismal certificates, marriage certificates and census data.

Even though there may have been many more who lived beyond, we are told the oldest fully authenticated age to which any human has lived is the 122 years and 164 days of Frenchwoman Jeanne-Louise Calment, who died in 1997. The oldest living man recognized by the Guinness Book is Shigechiyo Izumi who lived between 1865 to 1986. And living today the oldest human is Hendrikje van Andel of Netherlands who was born on 29 June 1890.

Now for my son Prashanth, a social visit to Sterling, Scotland has assumed special significance, on learning that his great grand aunt Lucy D’Abreu lives there. She just happens to be the oldest living human being today in the UK, who will turn 113 on May 24. Of ethnic Indian origin and a Mangalorean born in India in 1892, we know of her in the community as the widow of Abundius. And Prashanth’s maternal grandmother Joyce who lives in Morpeth, Northumberland is Lucy’s niece, her late mother Josephine being Lucy’s first cousin.

Lucy’s age has been authenticated by the Guinness Book of world records. There are as on date only 11 other people around the world older to her, per records maintained by the Gerontology Research Group, affiliated with the UCLA School of Medicine, of the oldest people alive.

375 words: dated 19.05.2005: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com

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