Thursday, May 04, 2006

Happy 128th Birthday, Cruz Hernandez

The unofficial "world's oldest person" celebrated turning 128 on Wednesday, May 3rd. For those like me who don't do fast mental math, she was born in 1878. Ms. Hernandez is a native of El Salvador, and her life has spanned more history than most of us remember from all our junior high and high school classes. And she's still beautiful.

Ms. Hernandez was born during America's period of Reconstruction following the Civil War. She has lived through the headlines of all the wars of the 20th century, she was a child before cars existed, she grew up before TV, before space travel.... This a woman who could tell our oldest living generation a thing or two.

Just thinking about the time that has passed from Ms. Hernandez's birth to her 128th birthday, I struggle to wrap my mind around all that this woman has lived through, all that she has seen. A provencial woman of El Salvador, has she lived in full knowledge of the modernization of the world around her in the last century? Has men on the moon, the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall... meant anything to her?

While I know plenty of people that have grown old before their time from various sufferings, this woman's serene smile seems as though it locks a way a sort of fountain of youth. I would love to hear her stories, her secrets.

In our hustle and bustle of daily life, could -- would -- we take any of her wisdom back with us to work, to the streets, to home at night, and really learn anything that would make a difference in how we lived? I've noticed that when there is an "oldest living person" story, they never are residents of America. There's a story in that in and of itself.

*Photo: Cruz Hernández celebrates her 128th birthday in the village of San Agustin, El Salvador, May 3, 2006. (Luis Galdamez/Reuters)

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