The Secret To A Long Life

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Ivan Oldun is a resident of Ukraine and he seems to know the secret to a long life. According to his family, daughter Irma (96) says her father was born on the 12th April, 1901, making him 114 at the time of writing! Ivan comes from the city of Uman and puts down his longevity to a daily diet of cigarettes, whisky and at least one dance to a Rolling Stones record.

However, he says he prefers the slower Stones songs to dance to these days as his legs aren’t what they were! In his own words,  ‘Я волію, щоб готель пам’яті Start Me Up’, which translates to ‘I prefer Memory Hotel to Start Me Up’.

Ivan and his family in the 1930's
Ivan and his family in the 1930’s

Ivan started work at the age of 12, chopping down trees in the local forest for the Russian paper mills. He joined the army in 1914 after telling them he was 18 and went off to fight in the Great war. However, his memory doesn’t allow him to recall where he was during this time. He can remember marrying as soon as the war was over, when he met Olga at an all woman’s wrestling match. She was the local champion, and although she was only 22 she looked 63. They had 7 children, Irma being the eldest.

Ivan says he has done a lot of running in his life, running through the forests, up mountains, through cities and (with a big grin on his face) tікаючи від жінок which means running away from women! ‘I had to stop running when I got to 74, my lungs were not so good’. He still smokes 30 cigarettes a day, but says that he has cut down a lot, and doesn’t drink half the whiskey that he did 10 years ago.

He adds that every morning he has Bublik or Kalach bread with Vareneky, don’t ask, I haven’t a clue. Then he washes everything down with an old jam jar filled with Horilka (whiskey). He’s been a Widower for over 35 years, his daughter Irma acts as his carer, although he says he doesn’t need much in the way of caring. An appointment has been made for him to see a dentist today to have his 2 stumps polished up. ‘I eat everything with these’, pointing inside his gummy mouth! ‘I have to look after these stumps, or else I will starve to death’.

Suddenly, a familiar song comes on the radio, it’s the Rolling Stones singing ‘Love In Vain’ and Ivan jumps to his feet. He dances like someone who’s just received an electric shock while trying to put out his trousers that are on fire, but at 114, he’s not complaining. We shake hands and he gives me the biggest man hug I’ve ever had.  ‘Повертайся , коли ви 70′ which translated means, ‘Come back and see me when you’re 70’. That means he’ll be a sprightly 124 by then.

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