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America's oldest living person, with over 260 descendants, celebrates 116th birthday

When asked about the secret to her longevity, she said, "I don't know. I just live right, all I know."

America's oldest living person, with over 260 descendants, celebrates 116th birthday
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Macedonia Baptist Church of Charlotte

The oldest living American just turned a whopping 116-years-old over the weekend and her grandkids made sure she got to celebrate the incredible milestone in style. Hester Ford from Charlotte, North Carolina, was treated to a special drive-thru parade on Saturday afternoon which was attended by many of her friends and family who showed up to honor the centenarian. "We are doing a re-do of 115 and celebrating 116 coming into," Ford's granddaughter Mary Hill told NBC-affiliate WCNC. "So we are excited about the cars coming back in and just acknowledging her and letting them know that we love her."




When asked about the secret to her longevity, Ford told The Charlotte Observer, "I don't know. I just live right, all I know." According to the publication, in Ford's case, "living right" might be the half a banana she eats as part of her breakfast every morning or the fact that she never needed to be hospitalized for any reason before the age of 108. Or it might even have something to do with her house of 58 years which she has refused to leave because [Charlotte] is home. "Her church is 5 minutes away, she loves her church," explained Hill.



Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic has forced Ford to stay indoors and miss church given her advanced age. "She usually calls once a month the first Sunday of the month, but with the virus. She hasn't been able to go," said Hill. "So they always send CDs and the deacons come and give her communion." She explained that her grandmother has received an outpouring of love and support from not just her blood family but also her church family. "Just the love, the outpouring of love is so important," said Clayton Harris, another grandchild of Ford's. "Yes, you know, we thank God for that. Just being able to embrace that love."



Hill and Harris revealed that their grandmother is aware of everything happening in the world right now. In fact, she has prior experience living through a pandemic as she was alive during the 1918 Flu pandemic. "She said this kind of reminds her of that time back then," Hill said. "She just said she remembers that a lot of people were sick." Born on August 15, 1904, in Lancaster, South Carolina, Ford worked on a farm where she not only planted and picked cotton but also plowed the field and cut wood.



She tied the knot with John Ford at the age of 14 and gave birth to the first of the couple's 12 children at age 15. The couple eventually sold the farm and moved to Charlotte in 1953 where Ford worked as a nanny for two families in Myers Park for over 20 years. Her husband passed away at the age of 57 in 1963, which means Ford has lived more than twice as long as her late husband. Aside from their children, the couple went on to welcome 48 grandchildren, 108 great-grandchildren, and approximately 120 great-great-grandchildren.



"It’s so important if you do have loved ones, no matter what their age, cherish them especially when they get older. and don’t forget to celebrate them," said Harris, explaining why the family considered it a blessed to have so many years with their grandmother. "Because life is so short." Although they are aware that this could be her last birthday with them, they're not counting her out yet as they’ve had the same thought many times before. "We just thank God for just keeping her here for us, because it gives us hope," said Hill. "We would never want her to be here if she was sick... We want her to have a great quality of life in her elder years. We don't want her to be sick or anything and trying to hold on. We're just a blessed family."



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