5 generations meet for 117th birthday party

Zhu Zhengshi walks in her courtyard in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Monday. Until recently, she swept the courtyard daily.
PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

Zhu Zhengshi will celebrate her 117th birthday on Thursday in her hometown of Chengdu, Sichuan province.

More than 100 of her descendants, spanning five generations, will attend a traditional banquet. Each table will hold nine dishes, signifying longevity.

It is easy for people to meet septuagenarians and octogenarians. But it is rare to come across a centenarian. And many descendants will come to the party, Zhu said.

She was born on Sept 21, 1900 (Aug 2 according to the Chinese lunar calendar).

Zhu lives with her second son Zhu Weicheng, 84, in a farmhouse in the Yunhua community of Shengli in Shuangliu district. He said that until recently his mother would sweep the courtyard and cut grass to feed the pigs every day. Last year, she fell and broke her leg.

As a result, she no longer does such chores. Instead, she walks around the courtyard for exercise every morning, he said.

Zhu Zhengshi gave birth to five children. Her youngest son, Zhu Weiyang, lives nearby.

Zhu Zhengshi sorts out things at home in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Monday. Photo: China Daily/Asia News Network

Zhu Weiyang said: "Mom has a simple diet. In the morning, she has porridge with sweet potatoes. For lunch and supper, she has some fish, stewed pork and vegetables. After lunch, she takes a nap."

"She has a good temper and never concerns herself with trivial matters. That might be her secret to longevity," he said.

Zhu Zhengshi's eldest son is no long living, and her other four children are in their 80s. The wife of her eldest son's great-grandson is five months pregnant and will give birth early next year.

"The baby will be the sixth generation of my family," the elderly woman said.

She is articulate and is happy to meet visitors. Because she is well known in Shuangliu, strangers seek her out to pose for pictures.

"I am happy to meet visitors. Many people who are curious about my long life take photos of me or have photos taken with me," she said.

According to the Chengdu office in charge of affairs for the elderly, the city is home to more than 1,000 people who are at least 100 years old. Each centenarian receives 500 yuan ($76) a month from the government to help make ends meet.

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