And I thought I was old


When flipping through newspapers, or watching television news shows, it appears there are more and more stories about people living longer. Only this week, actor Sidney Poitier passed at the age of 94, and Betty White left us a few weeks before her 100th birthday.


As amazing as these legacies are, they have nothing on Fatameh Norouzi Karizi. She is not only the oldest person alive, but someone who will soon have lived longer than anyone else. Born in 1899, September 23rd of this year, will bring her to the ripe old age of 123 years old.


Born in Persia (today’s Iran), Fatameh maintains her youth was so different from what we see today. Forget the technology and constant changes, “People were happy with what they had”, she said. “That brought peace to families, as their emphasis was not on getting more, but enjoying more”.


Today she lives with her son and has many great-great grandchildren. Sadly, her health is not good, and the pandemic has prevented her from spending time with many of them. Considering she has lived through Iran’s Soviet invasion, the British invasion, the Iranian revolution, the Iraq war and eight presidents, the pandemic is just another hurdle in her very long life.


The oldest person on record to date, is Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days. In 1988, at the age of 112, Calment officially became the oldest person, ever. Born and raised in France, she outlived her daughter and grandson, an issue not uncommon if you live well past 100.


The Iranians and the French are not the only long living people in the world. Canada has Marie-Louise Meilleur, a woman who lived to be 116 years old. Born in 1880, in Kamouraska, Quebec, she moved to Ontario in 1930. She had six children with her first husband, whom she outlived, and another six with her second husband, whom, of course, she also outlived (he died at the age of 93, when Meilleur was a mere 92).


I can’t imagine what life experiences these people have to share and all they have seen, having lived through many conflicts, global economic woes and inventions, from automobiles to smart phone, airplanes to space travel.


Of all the people who have been on the planet for a very long time, March 7th, 2022, will be the day that Fatameh Norouzi Karizi will go into the record books as having lived the longest of anyone on earth. It kind of makes me feel like a teenager.


Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.