Georgia's Nonagenarians Talk About Their Long Lives
Olgha Machitadze, 91, worked as a teacher of Georgian literature in a secondary school. She was married and had a son, but her family died in an accident. She still loves to read. “How I love them all, you don't know. I love to read and I read even now. Now I just have brochures, no books … I can't choose. I am Georgian and I love everything Georgian.”
When were you the happiest?: “From the day my child was born I was happy until the day they all died.”
What is the secret to your long life?: “Patience and a happy life.”
Ana Gordadze, 91, was a doctor by profession and worked in the statistics office of one of Tbilisi's best hospitals for 60 years. Both of her children are dead and she chose not to live with her grandchildren so she moved to one of Georgia's few retirement homes. “I have my own sorrow. I don't want music or dance so I came here and I am very satisfied.” Gordadze knits and sews. She knitted and sewed all the curtains and lamp shades in her room. During the three years she has lived at the retirement home she started to write poetry as well.
What is the secret to your long life?: “Childhood has a very important role … I had a happy childhood. We always went to the movies, the theater, the parks; we traveled to our dacha. That makes a difference. That is the foundation.”
Sophia Gogichashvili, 94, lives with her niece and grandnephew. She was never married but dedicated her life to taking care of her nieces and nephews. She worked as an engineer and loved travel but considers her role as a mamida - an aunt - as the most important part of her life.
When were you the happiest?: “I love Irakli (great nephew) so much I don't know what to do. I just want to hug him.”
Tamara Archvadze, 95, a former nurse and war veteran, lives with her family in Tbilisi. She is fiercely proud of her service during World War II, when she was responsible for more than 20 medical personnel at a medical hospital in the Gori region. “I was such a little girl, and I was giving all the orders.”
When were you the happiest?: “When I was working in the villages. I was so respected. People would come out in the street to meet me and invite me to their homes.”
What is the secret to your long life?: “Sometimes I am asking, ‘Have I really lived longer than anyone else?’”
Mariam Amashkeli, 90, worked as a gynecologist for 48 years in one of Tbilisi's main maternity hospitals. She said that she delivered so many babies during her life that she never “counted” how many people she brought into the world. She was married but her husband left her when their son was just six months old. She raised him herself. Both he and his wife died young. She has a grandson.
When were you the happiest?: “I was most happy when my son was born. But that I am still alive and he is not, that for me is [a tragedy].”
What is the secret to your long life?: “I think that everything plays a role: the climate and our diet. In Georgia, there is a better nature and better food … I never thought I would live this long. I even complained; I thought I would never live to see the 21st Century.”
Magalita Loladze, 95, worked as an electrical engineer for the telephone company. She was married and had a family. She is most proud of her career. “I was 75 when I left my job. I was very sad but what could I do?” she said. “I am sorry that I don't work and I don't go anywhere. I am always at home. I am used to going out and talking with people.”
When were you the happiest?: “I lived a happy life. I received a good salary and the administration always treated me well … they gave me all the work and they paid me well for it.”
What is the secret to your long life?: “I can't say. Probably it is a gift from God. My mother lived a very long time - 96 years.”
Nino Javakhishvili, 95, still works as a scientist at the Institute of Experimental Morphology in Tbilisi. A widow, she has no children but considers her three nieces and their offspring her family. Javakhishvili speaks four languages and translates English scientific texts for her research on the implications of diabetes on the human body. She never considered retirement, remarking, “what would I do at home?”
When were you the happiest?: “It is hard for me to say, but in any case I always lived relatively well.”
What is the secret to your long life?: “My father's family lived a long time so it is probably genetics. One factor is everything in moderation. My father [who died at age 98] always had a glass of wine with meals … but never drank too much.”
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