The Economist and Me

Mom's Contemporary

My mother was born in 1903. So was Kane Tanaka.  Mom died in 1989. Tanaka died in 2022, the oldest woman in the world at the time of her death.  Born in Japan, Tanaka lived in a nursing home during her last few years where (it is said) she maintained her sense of humor and her love for math problems, Coca Cola and chocolate.

When asked her secret for living so long, she replied, “Being myself.”

I don’t aspire to be the oldest woman in the world, but I wouldn’t mind sticking around a while if I can stay healthy and keep my sense of humor. 

If I could talk to my mother now, there are so many things I would want her to know—like how great her grandchildren and great-grandchildren are, and how we have remained lucky in the years she’s been gone.

If she had grown old in Japan like Kane Tanaka, she would have been feted yearly at Japan’s annual "Respect for the Aged" holiday. 

We could use such a day in the U.S.A.


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