If you feel like you've aged 10 years in the last two, join the club. But feeling old and actually being old are two different things entirely.
Take sister Lucile Randon. Now she's old. In fact, the native of France is 118 and as of April 25, 2022, she's been officially named by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living female and oldest living person. Randon also is the third-oldest French person and the third-oldest European person ever recorded.
Randon, also known as Sister André, became the official oldest person after Japan's Kane Tanaka died April 19, 2022, at the ripe old age of 119! Randon also is the oldest known survivor of the COVID-19 pandemic. She tested positive for COVID-19 when she was nearly 117, but had only mild symptoms.
Randon was born Feb. 11, 1904, in Alès, France. She had three brothers — André, Lucien and Pierre — and a twin sister — Lydie — who died of pneumonia at age 1. Randon's father was a Protestant pastor, but she converted to Catholicism in 1923 when she was just 19. She joined the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent De Paul and took the name Sister André in honor of her brother. She remained a Catholic nun and missionary until she retired — 43 years ago! — at age 75. Today she lives in a nursing home in Toulon, France, where she enjoys her chocolate and wine daily.
But Randon isn't the oldest person to have ever lived. That record is still held by French woman Jeanne Calment, who lived to the astonishingly old age of 122 years and 164 days. She was born in February 1875 when the average life expectancy for a French woman was 45.
According to The New Yorker, Calment outlived her daughter Yvonne, husband Fernand and nearly everybody she knew. She was still riding her bike at age 100 and was living alone at 110. She smoked until age 117 and never stopped drinking her favorite port. She eventually died in 1997 at the seriously old age of 122.
However, controversy has surrounded her after death — specifically whether she lived 122 years or not. Some have tried to prove with scientific evidence that Calment died in 1934 and not 1997, suggesting it was Jeanne Calment who died in 1934 and not her daughter Yvonne, and that Yvonne took her mother's identity to avoid financial problems.
Still others say that hypothesis is less probable than Jeanne Calment living out all of those 122 years — even in the 19th century. Whatever the case, the French — and Guinness World Records — still consider her the oldest person to ever live, and that's good enough for us. À votre santé Jeanne.
Originally Published: Jul 6, 2021