By Lynnie Stein / October 17, 2022

Be positive for a longer life

Meet Madam Jeanne Louise Calment, who had the longest confirmed lifespan: 122 years, 164 days. Apparently, fate strongly approved of the way she lived her life. I am a firm believer being in love everyday with life is what keeps us alive. Love is the greatest healer in the universe. We have no room to harbour regrets. All mistakes are lessons anyway. Nothing is as bad as it seems. Keep a smile on your face and people will wonder what you are thinking. You don’t have to love the action. But love the spirits of others. Look for the rainbow when it rains. It is always there. Here is a great story of a very unique remarkable young lady, “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.” She must of been so much fun to hang out with.

Jeanne was a wonderful example how to live life to the fullest.. ‘Stay true to yourself’

“Always keep your smile.

That’s how I explain my long life.”

Jeanne Louise Calment

Limits only exist, if you believe they do

“I had to wait 110 years to become famous… I intend to enjoy it as long as possible.”

– Jeanne Calment
  • Washington Post story about Calment’s 120th birthday describes the broad contours of her life. She was born in Arles, in southern France, on February 21, 1875, before the invention of the lightbulb.
  • She grew up to marry Fernand Calment at 21.
  • “She dabbled in painting, played the piano in her parlour, rode her bicycle around town, hiked and hunted,” reporter Dana Thomas wrote, buoyed by the success of her husband’s fabric shop.
  •  She met Vincent van Gogh “People called him ‘fada’ – touched by the faeries” she remembered. 
  • Very ugly, ungracious, impolite and not well. One day, my future husband wanted to introduce him to me. He glanced at me unpleasantly, as if to say ‘not worth bothering with,’ That was enough for me.” Jeanne’s story travelled around the world, and in 1990, Jeanne became the oldest person ever to appear in a motion picture when she appeared briefly in the documentary Vincent and Me at the age of 114.
  • “Pardon me, but we called him ‘the madman’, said Jeanne Calment of Vincent van Gogh
  • Jeanne Louise Calment outlived much of her family.
  • Daughter, Yvonne died at 36 of pleurisy. Fernand died in 1942 at the age of 72 from eating tainted cherries. And the only grandchild, Frederic was killed in a car accident at 36 in 1963.
  • At the Maison du Lac, Jeanne maintained a rigid schedule, rising at six-forty-five, meditating, performing calisthenics, and listening to classical music on her Walkman.
  • At night, Jeanne insisted the bed be turned down, as though a guest in a hotel.
  • Jeanne quit smoking at a hundred and seventeen, only because her eye sight was failing and hard to see to light up the cigarette, but never gave up having a nightly glass of port.
  • The longer Calment lived, the more famous she became.
  • On Grandmother’s Day, a well-known television presenter offered her a kilo of chocolate.
  • “I want a ton!” Calment replied.
  • Several weeks later, two trucks showed up with chocolate.
chocolate love book cover
  • Even the validators were dazzled by their subject.
  • They recorded hours of conversations with her, excerpts of which they later published in a book,
  • Les 120 Ans de Jeanne Calment.”
  • Occasionally, a word was used (like mahonne, a kind of round-bottomed barge that her father had built) that the validators had to look it up.
  • We were truly in the state of excitation of an Egyptologist who, while walking through an unexplored labyrinth of a pyramid, discovers an unknown room filled with treasures,” they wrote.
  • Calment lived through twenty French Presidents and survived periods of terrorism that no one even recalled.
  • She died on August 4, 1997, of unspecified causes.
  • Her age and identity has been disputed – saying it was her daughter. Questions about age-related records are not uncommon. Shigechiyo Izumi, of Japan, was dubbed the world’s oldest man when he died in 1986 at what was believed to be 120 years old.
  • But research that came out later claimed that he was around 105.
  • Others claiming ages as high as 125 and up have lacked the required documentation to prove their ages.
  • But who cares what the final number was? She was a remarkable lady and we can take a page or 2 from her life book and live a life of love.
  • Jean-Marie Robine, a gerontologist who helped to validate Jeanne’s age in the 1990s, tells Le Parisien the evidence is flimsy at best.
  • “All of this is incredibly shaky and rests on nothing,” he says, pointing out that Jeanne was able to answer questions only she would have known the answers too, like the name of her math teacher, when he interviewed her.
  • “Her daughter couldn’t have known that.”
  • He also says there’s no way the whole city of Arles could have been in on the conspiracy.
  • “Can you imagine how many people would have lied?
  • Overnight, Fernand Calment [Jeanne’s husband] would have passed his daughter [off] for his wife and everyone would have kept silent?
  • It is staggering,” Robine says.

“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.”

— Jeanne Louise Calment

The secrets of an exceptionally long life remain elusive

  • Obituaries about Calment noted that she was known for her love of chocolate – she reportedly ate nearly a kilogram a week – treated her skin with olive oil and rode a bicycle until she was 100.
  • Under an obscure French system called viager, where a buyer purchases a home from an older person and begins paying its mortgage, and are only able to move in after they die, Calment had a man paying her mortgage for more than 30 years, it was reported.
  • She had signed the deal with him when she was 90.
  • Year after year, the lawyer waited to move into the apartment he’d purchased, but Jeanne kept living, smoking cigarettes, drinking port, and riding her bicycle until in 1995, Jeanne outlived the lawyer himself.
  • By that time, he’d paid her twice as much money in monthly instalments as the apartment was worth, and his family took over the payments.
  • Jeanne shrugged her shoulders, “In life, one sometimes makes bad deals.”
  • At the age of 110, after 89 years living above the shop, Jeanne finally moved out of her apartment and into a nursing home. 
  • 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.”
 “Excuse me if I’m still alive,” she wrote one year, “but my parents didn’t raise shoddy goods!” 

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.”

“I see badly, I hear badly, and I feel bad, but everything’s fine.”

“Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long life.”

“I have a huge desire to live and a big appetite, especially for sweets.”

“If you can’t change something, don’t worry about it.”

“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.”

Jeanne Louise Calment

At the end of one interview, the journalist said, “Madame, I hope we will meet again sometime next year.”

Jeanne replied, “Why not? You’re not that old; you’ll still be here!”

By the age of 122, Jeanne was completely deaf, still drinking port, and still receiving checks from the lawyer’s family. 

“I don’t lack for anything,”

“I have everything I need.

I’ve had a good life.

I live in my dreams, in my memories, beautiful memories.”

When asked for the secret  of a long life, she shrugged and said, 

“Always keep your sense of humour.

That’s what I attribute my long life to.

I think I’ll die laughing.

That’s part of my program.”

Finally, at the age of 122 years, 164 days, Jeanne Calment finally died.

We will conclude with this quotation from Jeanne Calment’s old neighbour:

“Is life completely visible to us, or isn’t it rather that this side of death we see one hemisphere only?…Death is not perhaps the hardest thing there is.

If we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.

One thing undoubtedly true in this reasoning is this: that while we are alive we cannot get to a star, any more than when we are dead we can take the train.

So it doesn’t seem impossible to me that cholera, pleurisy & cancer are the means of celestial locomotion, just as steam-boats, omnibuses and railways are the terrestrial means.

To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.”

– Vincent van Gogh

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