Expatica news

Oldest woman feels good enough for 120

30 June 2003

AMSTERDAM — The oldest woman in the Netherlands and in Europe celebrated her 113th birthday on Sunday at a nursing home in Hoogeveen in the north of the country, saying that she could live to 120.

Hennie van Andel-Schipper was born in 1890, but weighing just three pounds, her mother felt the baby girl was not likely to survive. Van Andel-Schipper thanks her great grandmother for saving her life, by keeping her warm in her arms for the first four weeks after birth.

Fast forward 113 years and the devoted royal lover received a telegram from Queen Beatrix on Sunday, while the Hoogeveen Mayor, Willen Urlings, paid a personal visit to Van Andel-Schipper as she celebrated her birthday at the nursing home De Westerkim, newspaper Trouw reported.

She admits she is not very active these days, saying that she sits and waits for a cup of tea and then a sandwich. In the morning she waits for a snack, for a coffee and then soup, waiting also for the midday meal. “Ultimately you wait for death,” she says.

Rather than the technological innovations, Van Andel-Schipper says she is more amazed by developments in society and is not in favour of couples living together before they marry: “You must not forget how old I am. I love more the traditional, rather then the modern goings on”.

The avid fan of the Ajax football team married when she was 49 years old and never had any children. She lived in various places across the Netherlands and travelled extensively with her husband, who died of cancer 20 years into their marriage. His photo remains on the wall of her room.

She remembers a happy family of an older sister and two younger brothers, farmer lads with whom she danced, skating and a love of the theatre. But rather than go against her mother’s will, she became a needlework teacher and drama remained a hobby.

She is satisfied with her life and while admitting that if someone feels miserable they will want to end their life, she says everyone hangs onto life. “If I continue to feel as I do now, I will become a 120,” she says.

And in regards the all-important question on how she reached the ripe old age of 113, Van Andel-Schipper simply told RTL 4 news with a gleam in her eye: “Breathing”.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Dutch news