By Rory O’Sullivan
A lot has happened since November 28, 1912. Black Voice News was founded, Earth's population has swelled from about a billion to more than 7 billion, 19 presidents have been sworn into office, including the first African American President, Mr. Barack Obama, Alaska and then Hawaii were added to the United States and J. Christine Young was born in Oklahoma.
So how does it feel to be 100?
“Great,” Young stated emphatically. “I thank God for everything...if it comes in a little ways, alright.”
Her Minister, William T. Milligan of Church of Christ in Riverside, who has known Ms. Young for 18 years, said she always puts others first. She actually had a hard time talking about herself and listing her own accomplishments, but ask her about her family and she can talk forever.
“I love my children,” said Young and counts her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “I'm happy that all my children have college degrees.”
“She could be mad and mean and angry and grouchy because that's how old people get,” said Milligan.
“But she is the exact opposite.”
He said she doesn't complain and that everyone in the church likes her.
“Surely sister Young would make it to heaven, even before me,” Milligan quipped.
She had a wide variety of jobs, from helping her mother with domestic work, working for an airline, to owning a cafe.
What stands out the most over 100 years of living?
“Our president, I guess you might say the world kept us pushin and fussin and fighin and now we have a president of our own race,” said Young.
She can appreciate the journey of Blacks in America better than most. She can remember taking her oldest daughter Sue Alexander to school after desegregation during the 1950's.
She moved to Southern California in 1984 with her late husband who also lived into his 90's.
So what is the secret to living to becoming a centurion?
“Good loving relationships, sympathy, understanding, consideration, empathy for each and everyone,” said her daughter Sue Alexander, 83. “We are there for each other.”
Some of the credit should be given to her only drinking one glass of wine in her life, never smoking, and never using any recreational drugs.
Nehal G. Patel, who has a doctorate in medicine, and works in geriatric medicine at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana where Ms. Young receives her medical care, said there are more centurions because of advances in modern healthcare. He said there is no “magic secret” to staying healthy throughout your life.
“The main key is staying active, keeping your mind sharp, your body sharp, and having a strong social network,” said Patel.
He said it is never too late to embrace a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise, and not smoking. Ms. Young stayed active in the church, helping to build three. She also plays dominos and belongs to a bridge club, where she recently won a tournament.
When asked what the secret was if any to living so long her response was simple.
“God was with us, without him we couldn't have done so much.”
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