Gertrude Baines, age 114, doesn’t quite to know what to make of her fame, says Esmeralda Bermudez in the Los Angeles Times. A onetime maid and the daughter of former slaves from Georgia, Baines became the oldest known person in the world on Jan. 2, when 115-year-old Maria de Jesus of Portugal passed away. For the next week or so, Baines attracted international attention, as dozens of reporters, photographers, and film crews flocked to her convalescent hospital in Los Angeles. “Why all these questions, I want to know!” she blurts out at one point. “I just want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head.” Mostly, though, she has been happy to welcome the visitors, confiding that while she is not afraid to die, she is afraid to be alone. “What are you doing? Come in,” she says cheerfully. Baines has no living relatives, having long outlived a daughter and a former husband, but she boasts that she is often visited by relatives of other residents of the home as well as by church volunteers. The flow of reporters has slowed in recent days, but she’s expecting it to pick up again in three months—when she turns 115. As for the question she’s asked most frequently—what is the secret to her longevity?—Baines has a ready response: “Ask God.”
The oldest person in the world
January 29, 2009
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