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Want to live to 100? Let’s hear from some who already have

Several thousand years ago, I imagine a scribe showing up at the homes of Methuselah, Jared, Noah and those other oldtimers of early biblical days, and he asked the obvious question: “What must one do to live to 900 years old?”
Well, we’ll never know if that happened. But someone today is showing up at the homes of centenarians — people who live to be 100 or older — and asking similar questions. His name is Steve Franklin, and his mission is to capture the wit and wisdom of these long-lived people until he reaches the golden age himself. His chances — and your chances — of living to 100 are the best they’ve been since Methuselah. America’s population of centenarians has roughly doubled in the last 20 years.
So far, Franklin has interviewed 120 centenarians and four supercentenarians — people over 110. He’s writing a book, due out this year, and he and his team have produced an hour-long keynote presentation called “100: Authentic Wisdom from America’s Centenarians,” which features sound bytes from several of the videotaped interviews. I saw the presentation recently and then telephoned Franklin for more details.
Franklin’s questions focus on three areas: money, work and life. Not all said the same things, of course, but there were some common attitudes. For example:
On money: “Most of them, not all, but most, have lived on a cash basis,” Franklin said. “If they didn’t have the cash for it, they didn’t buy it.”
On work: “Almost every one of them loved what they did. It didn’t matter whether they made a lot of money or little money or whatever.”
On life: “They accepted blame for everything,” Franklin said. “They haven’t blamed and don’t blame anybody else in life that hurt them…or got in their way or challenged them along the way…. They don’t have that entitlement mentality. They’re just fully responsible people.”
And they have a sense of humor.
The one centenarian I know, Lessie Smithgall of Gainesville, Ga., amused me time and again with off-the-wall comments as we met at her home to write her memoir.  
“I go to a number of doctors, and I trust my nurses will keep the appointments straight,” she said one day. “If I ever end up at veterinarian John Sundstrom’s office, instead of Chatte the cat, I’m afraid he will want to put me to sleep.”
I telephoned my friend after speaking with Franklin and asked her how to stay healthy and live long. After all, she challenged Walter Cronkite to a tennis match when she was 89. Well, she said, you need to eat right, find a good doctor, exercise and give up cigarettes. She gave up her three cigarettes a day at the age of 97.
She didn’t say it, but it also helps to give of yourself, something she’s done her whole life.
So if you want to live to 100, you can find out more at Steve Franklin’s website: 100wisdom.com. 
But for now, you may go take your nap. 

Phil Hudgins’ column is published in many newspapers around the Southeast.