I was intrigued by a recent  NY Times story of a 115 year old woman in Italy who credited her longevity, in part, to being single and to averting relationships where she could be “dominated” by a spouse. Her experience goes against the grain of most studies that show married people, in general, live longer. It’s only fair to mention, obviously, other factors contribute to her longevity.

          I was curious nonetheless about her staunch foothold in remaining single. Emma Morano was unhappily married briefly when she was quite young and, in spite of a ton of opportunities to partner up since then, she has consistently decided to remain single and to live alone. Today Ms. Morano still lives alone, even at 115. She has a caring neighbor and an attentive niece who cook and look out for her. She has throughout her life hated hospitals and eschewed doctors and had little reason for their services. She is deemed in good health by a physician who she has let care for her minimally since she was about 90.

          It’s difficult for me
to wrap my brain about what it must be like to have lived through two turn of the centuries and been witness to so many historical occurrences. She has survived two world wars and the  hardship of their aftermath. She has also been an observer of the complete transformation of her native Italy from one of agriculture to one of massive industrialization. While I can remember back as far as Eisenhower, Emma’s life has spanned 70 governments in seven decades plus a 20-year Fascist incursion in the middle.

          I feel certain genetics play a significant role in Emma’s longevity.  One of her sisters died just before turning 100 and another lived to 102. She also credits her long life to the consumption of raw eggs – three a day until recently when she reduced it to two. 

          Has avoiding marriage kept Emma alive? I don’t think so.

          In spite of any specific reason(s) for living to a super centenarian age, I was most impressed by her attitude. She is said to enjoy her life now and “…she’s aware of the privilege of living.”  She may live alone, not able to get around like she used to but “I’m still here,” she said recently. What’s better than that?

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