With genes like these, longevity is in style | Rudi Alcott

My eldest son came home from school the other night with a project in hand for extra credit. He received points for each past familial generation that he was able to put together.

Since his grandmother (my mom) has been searching our genealogy for well over 40 years now, he was in all kinds of luck.

Me, not so much. I was the beneficiary of family vacations to the Mormon library in Salt Lake City. No Disneyland for this one. Libraries, lots of libraries — every year.

I am quite certain there is an episode of “The Simpsons” based on this — my life story. Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet. It’s my firm belief it was another kid, about my same age, in the same dire circumstances, with a little bit more gray matter than I possess, thinking that there has got to be a better way. No way am I coming back here next year. So there is that positive aspect, but other than that, I took one for the team on this. A point I made abundantly clear to my son. Several times.

After combing through multiple mind-numbing files, I came upon a pedigree chart of my mom. This particular chart showed family history for five generations back. It was comical to read some of the notes she had researched, and in doing so, I started to see a pattern develop.

My maternal side of the family has a long shelf life. On both my maternal grandfather’s and grandmother’s “trees,” every one of them, in more than 20 entries listed, lived to be fairly old.

I then did a search to discover average life spans of the time for the family members listed and found something astonishing. Every person listed had outlived the average life span of their generation by a minimum of double.

One of those people, named Lucretia, which sounds like something you have after the flu, lived to be 107. 107. When the average life span was 24. My grandmother lived to be 99. Grandfather, who had black lung disease for what seemed like his entire life, died young. By Lucretia’s standards, he was a baby at the tender age of 89.

84, 87, 88 were all norms in the 1700s and 1800s. My mom, therefore, is young. She is only 82. I’m going to Vegas and betting the over on her. One would think that just by chance you would lose some to wars, farming or outhouse accidents. Either we were a bunch of pansies and went hiding under the outhouse, or you just couldn’t kill us.

Not sure, but I’m quite glad that they didn’t get knocked off. Mid-life crises? Not me. I’ve still got another 60 years.


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