The world’s oldest man Fredie Blom, who is a South African, has died at the age of 116 from natural causes in Cape Town, his family annouced on Saturday. Although blom’s ‘record’ as the oldest man is considered ‘unofficial’ in certain media outlets, with no documents to back up his birth in 1904, there has been no competitor and this is common for Africans of that era.
Going by this record, Blom was four years older than the Guinness World Book of Records ‘oldest man’ Bob Weighton, who was so named in March. The point of no doubt however was that at age 14, Blom witnessed the Spanish flu in 1918 which took over 300,000 lives in South Africa including that of Blom’s own sister, with COVID-19, his second truly global flu-like pandemic experience.
According to a family spokesman Andre Naidoo; “He was a strong man, full of pride. However, within days Blom shrank “from a big man to a small person”. Blom, who lived near Capetown, recently said he is thankful for his age and can think of only one reason he has lived this long.
Speaking in an interview recently, Blom is reported to have said: “I have lived this long because of God’s grace.” “It’s the boss upstairs who decided that my time isn’t up yet.” He also told a South African news outlet last year.
Blom has been married to his 86-year-old wife Jeanette for about 50 years. He did not have children of his own so he adopted the daughters Jeanette brought with her into the marriage.
“He has done everything for us”, Jasmien Toerien, one of Blom’s step-daughters is reported to have said. Toerien praised Blom as a hard worker who tried to provide for the family waking up at “three or four in the morning to cycle to work”. He is said to have worked as a gardener and wood-chopper until he was 106. Blom himself believed living a simple routine has been beneficial too. “I smoke my tobacco. I don’t go to the doctor. All I drink is an Eno and a Disprin tablet every day. And I am fine,” he said in the interview.
Tobacco, or rather the lack of it, was one of the reasons he was upset recently with the South African lock-down as a result of the coronavirus – Blom could not buy cigarettes during the lock-down. Cigarettes were reportedly his only birthday wish for this year. Somehow, the people at the Guinness World Book of Records have not reached out to Blom and family even though Guinness has been told of the centenarian. But the family is nonetheless has not given up hope.
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