Johannesburg| The oldest woman in the world has reached a new milestone this morning, by celebrating her 149th birthday with her friends and family.
Betje de Vroome has lived through the two Boer wars and two world wars, as well the birth of the automobile, the airplane, TV and the Internet. She hasn’t had enough, however, and she says she hopes to live long enough to eventually see flying cars.
“I have had a life full of love, laughter and friendship, and I still really enjoy myself as much as I did a hundred years ago,” she told reporters. “I am still pretty healthy and independent, and I really wish I could live this way for 10 or even 20 more years.”
Ms. de Vroom was born on September 24 1866 in Bloemfontein, in the Orange Free State, and has now lived in parts of three centuries. She got married in 1889, and had an impressive lineage of seven children, 23 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, 51 great-great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-great-grandchildren.
The Guinness Book of World Records will not recognize her as the world’s oldest living person, because she lost her birth certificate, many decades ago, but this doesn’t seem to bother her at all.
“I don’t really care if I get any record, life is too short to waste time with such things” she says with a grin. “I see every day as a gift from the Lord, and I try to make the most of the time I have left. I don’t have time to argue over records and things like that.”
The South African Social Security Agency has confirmed that Miss De Vroom’s official birth date is, indeed, in 1866. They also confirmed that she has been a beneficiary of the government’s pensions for elderly people since their introduction in 1956, but this was insufficient to convince Guinness.
Officially, 116-year old Susannah Mushatt Jones, from Brooklyn, is recognized as the oldest woman in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. Dozens of other people around the world claim to be older, but none of them have the all the documents demanded by the organization, to actually back their claims.