Hailing her as “the living example of civic responsibility,” the Guatemalan government said she was “lucid” and gearing up to celebrate her 121st birthday.
The announcement is likely to rock the centenarian world. Tracking the world’s oldest is a fastidious business. It’s closely scrutinized, and it’s unclear from reports Wednesday morning whether Chox Yac’s age or identity has been authenticated by either the Guinness Book of World Records or the Gerontology Research Group, the trusted source on all things centenarian.
The group keeps close tabs on the world’s oldest members, following 74 people older than 111. According to Gerontology’s list and other sources, the current title goes to a wheelchair-bound Japanese woman named Misao Okawa, 116, who ascribes her longevity to the consumption of sushi.
Last year, the world’s oldest person in history according to Guinness, 116-year-old Jiroemon Kimura, died of natural causes in Japan, endowing Okawa with the globe’s greatest seniority. At the ceremony, she announced that she was “very happy,” and said the secret was to “watch out for one’s health.”
She then nodded off in her wheelchair while munching on sushi.
Her 90-year-old son professed surprise at the entire affair. “On my father’s side, there are some who lived long and some who don’t — like my father who died at 36 — so I doubt I’ll live as long,” he said.
It’s unclear whether Chox Yac will also be subjected to same proceedings, or if she is aware of the buzz over the world’s oldest. According to Siglo21, the surprise came late last year when Chox Yac registered with the national registry and put down an 1800s birth date.
Hailing from a small farming village of Santa Lucia Utatlan in central Guatemala, it is conceivable Chox Yac’s age and identity had been unknown until now. The daughter of Luciano Chox and Isabel Yac, she picked coffee beans and tended cattle before marrying at age 15. In those days, her work reportedly began at 3 a.m., when she had to prepare food for her family. She never attended school and can neither read nor write.
Nine years later, when she was 24, her first husband died. The two children from that marriage, reports said, are now dead as well. Chox Yac later remarried at 29 and gave birth to seven more children before that husband died in 1964.
According to Siglo, the centenarian has 75 descendants, including children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
It’s eventful days for the world’s oldest people. A Detroit woman, Jeralean Talley, the second oldest person in the world — or maybe now the third — turned 115 this week. “I don’t feel sick,” said Talley, who bowled at age 104 and went fishing last year.
“It’s all in the good Lord’s hands,” she said, explaining her miraculous longevity. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”