The average person may find it difficult to imagine living long enough to see one great-grandchild. Hester Ford, however, is still going strong after having more than 200 great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
The Lancaster, South Carolina native, who is the oldest living American, celebrated another birthday on Saturday, 6ABC reported. But there is some confusion about her exact age. While her family says she was born in 1905, census documents reveal her birth year as 1904, making her 116 years old. What is for certain is that she gave birth to 12 children, who then birthed Ford's 48 grandchildren, who then gave life to her more than 200 great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
The oldest living American was born on this day in ~1904 in Lancaster County, South Carolina and turned 116 today. Happy Birthday to our mother, Miss Hester Ford ???? pic.twitter.com/LK3v3yW7Lj
— ment nelson (@mentnelson) August 15, 2020
According to WBTV, Ford's loved ones drove by the woman's house during her birthday on Saturday and left gifts on the driveway because of the pandemic.
Ford, who has been living in Charlotte, North Carolina, since the mid-1950s, received recognition in the city when Mayor Vi Lyles declared August 15 as Mother Hester Ford Day. The community also came together last year and organized a memorable birthday party for the distinguished resident, singing songs in a decorated event center as Ford sat next to her proclamation dressed in all pink.
Mary Hill, one of Ford's granddaughters, asked her grandmother about the secret to living a long life.
"I just live right, all I know," she responded.
The South Carolina native was raised on a farm, where she would pick cotton. She was 14 years old when she married John Ford. A year later, the couple gave birth to their first child.
The family moved to Charlotte after selling their farm. John, who worked at a steel mill, died at age 57 in 1963. Ford lived without assistance until she was 108 years old. Her family became worried when the elderly woman fell in the bathtub at that point and brought in some help.
Ford, who is now living with two of her daughters, still feeds herself and goes for walks with a walker. And she loves to recite scriptures. Although she hasn't been able to go to church because of the pandemic, the devout Christian gets communion from Hill, who is an ordained minister.
The faithful woman received a birthday cake decorated with scripture, saying “The Lord is my shepherd.” But the family avoided the hassle of putting 116 candles on the cake and only displayed 16.
“We just thank God for just keeping her here for us, because it gives us hope,” Hill said. “We would never want her to be here if she was sick. We want her to have a great quality of life in her elder years. We don’t want her to be sick or anything, and trying to hold on. We’re just a blessed family.”
Hill also quoted scripture to theorize how her grandmother has come to live such a long life.
"Honor your mother and father and your days will be long on the land,” she said.
Ford became the oldest living American after the death of Alelia Murphy in New York, who passed away at 114 years and 140 days old in November, reports WBTV. Kane Tanaka of Japan, who is 117 years old, is the oldest living human in the world.