Saturday, March 31, 2007

Great Grandma Iva

In March of last year, I saw the below-mentioned blog entry (I clipped it and saved it to my hard drive).

Anyway, I was thinking of Grandma Iva today; she also died a little more than one year ago. I did not know her, but I knew of her. She died at 111, and the local paper ran this story after she died.

Great Grandma Iva
She's as old as the hills. She remembers when the Wright brothers flew. She partied like it's 1999 in 1999 and 1899. She's my great grandma and she's 110. Her birthday is March 8th so she'll be 111 in a few months.

I wrote an article about her for The Ottumwa Courier when I was a senior in High School. Just this past spring when she turned 110 years old I contacted a writer at the Des Moines Register who wrote an amazing piece on her. I've attached both articles for ya'll to look at if you're interested.

So needless to say, longevity runs in my family- Joe's fucked.

I can't find the pictures I have of her, but I'll post them soon.

Des Moines Register Article

Hansen: 110 candles today, and no limit to her wishes

March 8, 2005

First she wanted to live to be 100. Done.

Then she wanted to live longer than Rose Kennedy, who died at 104. Cleared that hurdle, too.

Then she wanted to be able to say she was around to see three centuries. Made it.

Without much remaining on her lifetime to-do list, Iva Crouse of Sigourney then began looking for the ultimate test. She decided she wanted to live long enough to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

"But there is a limit to everything," Iva told the Ottumwa Courier four years ago on her 106th birthday.

The Cubs are proof. Iva turns 110 today and is still waiting on her beloved baseball team.

I'm not sure whether she has much to complain about, though. Unlike most fans, she was around the last time the Cubs won the World Series. The year was 1908, and she was 13.

Iva, for the record, is much older than Wrigley Field. And up until a few months ago, she was in better shape than Wrigley Field.

She'd rise before dawn at the Sigourney Manor House, her home for the past 28 years. She'd dress and read the newspaper from front to back. Then she'd tell her breakfast companions what they needed to know to be informed citizens.

Until a few months ago, she was reading a book a week.

Then around Christmas, Iva came down with pneumonia and things changed. It's been a struggle. She's losing weight and sleeping more.

But even after the pneumonia, she still has none of the aches and pains normally associated with growing old. And Iva still was able to nail 17 of 24 questions on a New England Centenarian Research Group survey.

Who's in the room? What day of the week is it? When did World War I and II start?

A breeze.

What was your husband's name?

"John, the best man who ever lived."

Iva stumbled when they asked her to recite the alphabet backward, but show me a 40-year-old who can cruise from Z to A.

Iva never smoke or drank. When asked for the secret to her longevity, she used to say:

"God forgot me," or "I must be made of stone."

She was 8 when the Wright Brothers got off the ground. She was 17 when the Titanic went under. She remembers both.

She has voted in almost every election since women won the right to vote in 1920. She adored Theodore Roosevelt.

Today a party will be thrown in Iva's honor at the Manor House. Her two children, 87-year-old Horace and 82-year-old Betty, will have some cake. So will Marlene, her 64-year-old granddaughter.

You don't run into many 64-year-old grandmothers with grandmothers.

Iva is still very much the matriarch in this five-generation family. Until recently, many big decisions passed through her. When Horace decided to remarry seven years ago, it was important to receive his mother's blessing.

Iowa is known for its surplus of old folks. In the last census, only South Dakota had a higher percentage of residents in their 100s.

The Iowa Department of Elder Affairs says 728 centenarians live in Iowa - 656 women and 72 men.

Today Iva moves past mere centenarian status, joining Hazel Bleach of Des Moines in the supercentenarian club. Hazel turned 110 in November.

She and Iva are the two oldest Iowans. They're also among the two oldest people in the world.

The list changes constantly, but as of Sunday, 55 women and five men showed up on the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group's list of "validated living supercentenarians."

Hazel ranks 55th in the world. Iva makes the cut today. As I write this, she appears to be the 19th-oldest person in the United States.

Emma Carroll of Ottumwa turns 110 in May.

How do you live to be 110? You don't, as a rule, but the experts seem to agree on a few things when it comes to longevity.

Have good genes and good luck. Be social. Be active physically and mentally. Don't smoke. Don't sweat the small stuff.

There was a woman in France who lived to be 122. On her 120th birthday, someone asked her if they'd be seeing her a year from then.

"Probably," she said. "You look healthy enough to me."

Cubs fan or not, a good sense of humor also seems to help.

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