Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Old age

How to Live a Long Life, According to a 102 Year Old

Informant is 102 years old, and has become quite practiced in answering the question, “what’s your secret for living so long?”

She was recently hospitalized after an operation, and the interviewer was able to record the following instructions for living to an old age:

Well, the thing is this, it’s all about the moderation.  And being consistent.  You don’t let anything fall by the wayside.

So everyone knows you move around every day, not to little and not too much, I like to climb stairs when I can and take walks.  Everyone knows about exercise  And you eat some vegetables every day and more is better than less, everyone knows that, but the thing my mother really believed in and that she learned from her mother who learned it from her mother and that I haven’t yet gone a day without doing is every day you have a little bit of chocolate, just a piece of it or chocolate ice cream or something.

Used to be we would come home from school for lunch and there would be maybe some cabbage soup or something, kasha and mushrooms or what have you, but always there was a piece of plain chocolate cake and a big glass of milk, and you don’t go back to school until you’ve had your cake and milk.  And on the weekend it was for breakfast.  But every day it was very important to my mother because her mother taught her, every day, you have a little bit of chocolate.

My mother was hit by a car so we don’t know if the chocolate would have kept her alive so long or not, but her mother, she lived for a long time, and she did it every day.  And I’m 102 and I do it every day.   And my sister, she’s 97, and she is in very poor health, and she never ate the chocolate because she didn’t want to be heavy.  But I tell her you can’t live on bread alone and she tells me that’s not what that means and I tell her who’s to say what’s living?

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