A colleague recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sidney Cooper of Monroe, Georgia. Mr. Cooper’s mother, Besse, is the oldest woman in the world.
To put that number in context, at the time she was born, Grover Cleveland was President and Orville and Wilbur Wright were still seven years away from their first powered flight over Kitty Hawk. She’s now lived in three separate centuries and actually remembers the turn of the 19th to the 20th and the 20th to the 21st.
Mrs. Cooper was born in east Tennessee and was the third of eight children. After graduating from college she worked briefly as a school teacher before moving to Georgia at the beginning of World War I.
Besse Cooper and her husband, Luther, had four children. Widowed in December of 1963 after 39 years of marriage, Mrs. Cooper has remained single ever since. When she turned 105 she told her son had she known she was going to live so long, she would have remarried!
A person can learn quite a bit from someone who has lived so many years. Here are five lessons culled from the long life of Besse Cooper, as conveyed by her son:
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder
“My mom thinks everything is great,” Sidney told my colleague. “When the telephone was invented she thought it was great. When air travel became possible, she thought it was great. She thinks life is a great and wonderful gift.”
Take in Stride What Comes Your Way
“She’s never been a worrier,” Sidney reflected. “What good will it do you?”
Read Your Bible
Up until her eyesight failed her three years ago, Mrs. Cooper read her Bible every day. “She especially loves the Psalms,” her son told us.
Don’t Eat Junk Food
Very few make it to 116 years of age without eating in moderation and maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet.
Mind Your Own Business
Mrs. Cooper has outlived all her peers, but according to her son, she said getting into other people’s business just wasn’t her style. This practice allowed her to better manage the challenges in her own life.
God be with you, Mrs. Besse Cooper!
Does anybody care to offer a sixth suggestion, gleaned from either your own life or the life of someone you know?