I like old people even if every year it is harder to find them. Well, I sure have found one and he is twice my age.
I‘ve been reading about Jose Coelho de Souza, a native of Brazil, who has been recently discovered by government social security officers in a village called Estirao do Alcantara in the north of the country and who is believed to be an astounding 131 – yes, that is 131 years old – and who will turn 132 on March 10.
Pictures of his identity documents which are apparently genuine have been posted online and in Brazilian newspapers as have pictures of him. Those documents should him to have been born on March 10, 1884 and, certainly, he hardly looks in his first youth although to me he doesn’t look a day over 120. I suppose you can only age to a certain extent which is somehow comforting.
The claim has caused a sensation. Currently the world’s acknowledged oldest person is Yasutaro Koide, a Japanese woman who is 112. Jose, if he gave it a moment’s thought would probably consider her to be a slip of a girl.
The record for the world’s oldest verified person is held by French woman Jeanne Calment who died aged 122 in 1997.
Public servants being public servants are supposed to be diligent about their responsibilities and it seems a Brazilian Government officer happened to notice in the files one day that this incredibly old man was still getting his pension. I imagine he thought to himself, “Hang on, this old duffer can’t be still alive. Somebody is trying to scam the government and the taxpayer.”
So off he set, determined to reveal this fraud and bring the perpetrators to justice. Then, surprise, surprise, he found Jose still alive. Not in the best of shape naturally, but still alive.
Brazilian newspapers have reported that Joe is living with his child bride who is a mere 62 and a granddaughter who is 16.
His daughter, Cirlene Souza is only 30 which means Jose was still on the job when he was 101 which, I think, gives the lie to the claim by the late American comedian George Burns who made it to 100 and who said on his 90th birthday that making love at his age was like trying to shoot pool with a rope.
According to Ms Souza, “He has days when he is lucid but others when he doesn’t even recognise his children. He was very small when he came to work extracting rubber. He has been with my mum for more than forty years and depends on others for everything.”
By my reckoning, that means that Jose was about 90 when he met his good lady wife who would have been in her very early 20s.
It means he easily outclasses American Playboy millionaire Hugh Hefner who married his third and most recent wife when he was 86 and she was 26. Hugh turns 90 in April. No disrespect for Hugh, of course and even if some of us (meaning women) might think of him as a dirty old man, there wouldn’t be a man on the planet who didn’t envy him, at least secretly and not in front of the wife.
And, let’s face it, Jose was hardly in a position to offer his bride a mansion and a millionaire’s lifestyle so it must have been love.
Ms Souza has no doubts about her father’s age.
“You hear everything, people that criticise and say that it is a lie and others that admire the fact that someone can live so long. It sometimes offends me because everything is documented and the documents have already been examined by experts to see if they’d been falsified and nothing abnormal was found,” she said. Her father suffered a stroke six years ago but he still eats three times a day with a diet of rice, fish and meat.
You have to concede that it would be very difficult for a dirt-poor Brazilian man living in a remote village to produce such quality forgeries.
The social security officer who discovered Jose, Kennedy Afonso, has posted photos of Jose and his birth certificate on his Facebook page.
He said, “I’ve asked one of his children if anyone’s interviewed him and to me astonishment, no-one has yet. The question ‘where are our historians’ immediately springs to mind.”
I do hope all of this excitement doesn’t go to Jose’s head. I know from personal experience that too much excitement after a certain age can be quite exhausting and that wouldn’t be good for his health.