A Texas woman celebrated her 114th birthday with five generations of family and friends. She is a “supercentenarian,” meaning she is the oldest person in Texas, the second oldest in the United States, and the seventh oldest in the world. She feels young at heart despite her age and attributes her longevity to God’s grace and a healthy lifestyle.
Elizabeth Francis, who was born in 1909, spent her birthday with her family, including her 94-year-old daughter, Dorothy Ray Williams, last week in Houston. According to Florida researcher Ben Meyer, as reported by KTRK-TV, Francis is the second-oldest person in the world who still lives in her own house.
Francis’ longevity seems to be genetic, with her sister living to be 106 and her daughter at 94. She also lived a healthy lifestyle, growing her own vegetables and avoiding fast food. “I’m very, very young. Look at me, I’m like a little young chicken,” Francis told KTRK-TV. When asked about her age, she replied, “I don’t know, I just thank the good Lord for keeping me.”
Her granddaughter, Ethel Harrison, told KTRK that Francis’ gift to others is the wisdom and advice she shares. “I think generosity, being generous,” Harrison said. “Treating people like you want to be treated, even though sometimes it might not be reciprocated, but that’s not the way God wants you to do. He wants you to be generous and kind.”
Francis never smoked or drank and ate “everything,” she said with a laugh. Her family also remembered how she always cooked homemade meals. “Whenever you went to her house, I don’t care what day of the week, she was cooking,” Harrison was quoted as saying.
In addition to her family, a film crew from Norway and a researcher from Florida came to record her birthday and present her with a plaque. Francis’s daughter, Dorothy Williams, expressed disbelief at her mother’s age. “They don’t say ‘you’re crazy,’ they just say ‘you’re lying.’”
Francis was born during President William Howard Taft’s administration, when 90% of U.S. newborns were born at home and women and black Americans were denied the right to vote. Her family considers her longevity a blessing, describing her as a lovely mother and grandmother and their “backbone.”
Francis has three grandkids, five great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. Her healthy lifestyle is said to be a factor in her long life.
When asked why she’d lived so long, she simply said, “This is a blessing, the Lord’s blessing.”