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Okinawa Prefecture’s Oldest Resident, Shizuko Kiyuna, turns 112
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BIOGRAPHY

Francisca Rita de Jesus was born in the bairro of Palmital, a rural area located on the banks of the Sapucaí River, in the municipality of Silvianópolis, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on 22 December 1914. She rarely attended school because they lived far from both the city and the rural school. As a solution, her father hired a private teacher to instruct her and her siblings in literacy. Consequently, she learned to read and write.

At the age of 21, she married her neighbor, Arlindo Balbino Mendes, a 31-year-old widower and father of five children ranging in age from 1 to 6 years old, whom she raised as her own. At the age of 22, nine months after the wedding, she gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Jandira. In total, she had 11 children— comprising 6 daughters and 5 sons—with the youngest, a daughter, born in 1958 when she was 44 years old. Her children were born in her home in the rural area of Silvianópolis with the assistance of midwives. While she lived without experiencing poverty or hunger, and in a house of sufficient size for her family, it lacked both running water and electricity. The family relied on the abundance of fish caught in the Sapucaí River for their lunches and dinners. Her sons managed the cultivation of rice, beans, and corn, while her daughters attended to household chores and the garden. Meanwhile, she would make cheese using leftover milk.

Until the age of 64, she resided in the countryside with her husband. By that time, almost all of their children had already married, and none of them lived with them any longer. In May 1979, at the age of 74, her husband passed away due to intestinal cancer. Following his death, she purchased a house, and relocated to the city of Pouso Alegre, where some of her children were already living. In the city, she initially resided with her two younger unmarried daughters. One of them eventually married and moved to São Paulo. From that point onward, she lived alone with her daughter Francisca Donizete, who also married shortly thereafter. She continued to reside with her, now joined by her new son-in-law, and later, the descendants of her daughter.

At the age of 105, nine of her children were still alive, along with one stepdaughter who, at the time, was 90 years old and suffering from severe dementia. At the time, she had 39 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren, and 6 great-great-grandchildren. Additionally, from her five stepchildren, she had 14 grandchildren, 15 greatgrandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren. At the time, she experienced hearing difficulties, but she remained lucid and physically active. She had a dedicated room and kept a television for watching images, given her hearing challenges. Not long ago, she was still sewing small items, using fabric scraps to create bedspreads. During that time, she had a pet dog at home. Additionally, she adopted a stray cat that had been living on the streets. During that period, she continued to receive the Eucharist twice a week, delivered to her home by a Eucharistic minister from the Catholic Church. She was a devout follower of Our Lady of Aparecida. She was reported to have never experienced serious health problems. At the age of 105, her hair color remained natural. Throughout her life, she had only two hospitalizations – one for a uterine removal procedure and the other for an umbilical hernia removal. Although she faced instances of pneumonia, they were without major complications and were successfully treated at home.

RECOGNITION

Her age was verified by Gabriel Ainsworth and James Roberts, and validated by LongeviQuest on 7 January 2024.

ATTRIBUTION

* “Uma centenária na família: Vovó Chiquinha e seu amor pela vida” – Revista Longeviver, 2020

GALLERY

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