Gertrude Weaver is old. VERY old, in fact. She has a 78-year-old granddaughter for one thing. She got married in 1915 for another . . .
Gertrude is so old that, having been confirmed as the United States' senior citizen, there's just one other person on Earth who has been around longer. Four months separate Misao Okawa (from Japan) and Gertrude, who celebrated her 116th birthday, a little earlier this month, at a nursing home in Camden, Arkansas. Born in 1898, Gertrude is the 11th oldest person of all time. During that time, she has acquired some quite considerable knowledge.
The question that most people ask her is the secret to enjoying such a long life and Gertrude's answer interests us all a great deal here at OM®. You see, she puts her longevity down to kindness and always being nice to the people around her. There's a lesson here for us all.
Can kindness REALLY make us live longer? Gertrude has no doubts . . .
'Treat people right and be nice to to other people, the way you want them to be nice to you,' she says. Far be it from us to argue with a 116-year-old. She's had a long time to think about it, after all.
It seems clear to us that Gertrude has lived her life as we strive to live ours: 'Loving everyone,' she says, maintaining a positive outlook on life, cherishing all that is important and never losing her faith. 'The Lord blessed me, I think, because I'm good to my family, to my children and my grandchildren,' she explains. Her son, Joe, himself aged 93 and the sole survivor of her four children, visited Camden to celebrate Gertrude's latest birthday . . .
'She's a loving and compassionate grandmother,' says Gradie Welch, her (78-year-old) granddaughter, of a quite remarkable lady . . .
Here at OM®, we can't even begin to imagine the lives she has touched, the people she has inspired and the good deeds she has carried out during the last 116 years. The red thread is long (and strong) indeed. That kindness binds it all together - to the extent that Gertrude believes it is crucial to her continuance - just serves to make this even more moving. Not that this is just an old (a VERY old) lady's whimsy. Far from it, in fact.
You see, studies have been done and research suggests that those who dedicate themselves to kindness do often live longer. Not always, for life isn't quite so simple, but be happy, conscientious and giving, ensure strong social ties and maintain a positive outlook and your prospects stand to be improved . . .
You might not make it to 116 (and let's face it, you might not want to), but you'll be making countless connections, inspiring others and following in some remarkable footsteps.
Footsteps that have shown - and are still showing - us all the path, not just to a longer life but also to one that is better. One that is rooted in kindness. One that is rooted in compassion. One that is rooted in love.
Here's to such qualities and here's to Gertrude Weaver, a VERY special lady, who is setting an example for us all. From all the team here at OM®, we'd like to wish Gertrude a (belated) Happy Birthday . . .