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Feeling fine despite challenges

Feeling fine despite challenges
Feeling fine despite challenges
Dr. Wayne Willis

When Jeanne Louise Calment turned 90, lawyer Andre-Francois Raffray cut a contingency deal with her. Calment, in financial difficulties, signed papers bequeathing her apartment to Raffray in return for his paying her monthly mortgage and providing a small monthly stipend until her death. Raffray figured he had cut a sweet deal with the nonagenarian.

Jeanne Louise Calment of Arles, France, however, lived another 32 years after signing that contract, dying at 122, well-documented as the oldest human of modern times. Raffray died in 1995 at age 77, 30 years after signing the deal paying for an apartment he didn’t live to occupy. During those 30 years, he paid Calment more than double the value of that apartment. Raffray’s widow had to continue making the payments until Calment died, two years later.

Calment had never been sick, save once at age 20 when she had conjunctivitis (pink eye) for a few days. She was diminutive, 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 99 pounds. She smoked until she was 117. She lived in her apartment until 110, when she moved into a nursing home.

On her 116th birthday, she told a reporter, when asked how she thought she would die, “I think I’ll probably die laughing.”

On her 118th birthday, the headline for a newspaper article read, “She’s In Her Very, Very Late Teens” (tongue-in-cheek, meaning the teens of her second century). She told one reporter that her longevity secret was chocolate, port wine and olive oil. She told another, with a mischievous smile, that “the good Lord must have forgotten me.”

My favorite word of wisdom from this remarkable woman who wouldn’t die: “I see badly, I hear badly and I feel bad, but everything’s fine.”

And how about you?