When Geraldine Karlan’s son took a photo of her looking glamorous in a silver dress for her 100th birthday party, he asked if he could post the picture on his Twitter account.
“Sure,” she replied. “I might meet another husband that way.”
Karlan is actually not looking for another husband — she’s had five of them. “Why would I want a marriage?” she exclaimed. But she would like to find a companion.
“As long as I stay well, I want to travel, I want to do things, I still want to dance,” she told TODAY.
“I’m enjoying (this age) very much. My children have made it very wonderful for me and I’m one of the fortunate ladies of the world.”
Her son Lawrence Krauss said he thought tweeting the photo might inspire others and couldn’t resist adding his mom’s joke about looking for a husband.
“I thought it was an amazing picture. How many people look like that when they’re 100 years old? She looks so lovely and so happy,” Krauss told TODAY.
“I was amazed at the response and I think it really did inspire people.”
Karlan was still driving a car last year and lived in her own condo in Toronto, Ontario, until last month. She just relocated to Prince Edward Island to live with her son, the latest move in a life filled with them. Karlan was born in 1921 in Vienna, Austria, and immigrated to Canada with her mother as a baby. She has also lived in California, New York and Florida.
Like many centenarians, she seems to have won the health lottery — Karlan hasn’t had to deal with major diseases like cancer or heart disease, she said. Besides falling the night after her 100th birthday party — she didn’t break any bones, but has been recovering in a hospital — she didn’t have any health issues.
“If I had not fallen, there was nothing wrong with me,” Karlan noted.
'I like all the goodies of life'
Asked about habits that have helped her live a long life, the great-grandmother wondered if it’s “perhaps because I’ve never had a drink in my life” — no wine, champagne or liquor at all. “I saw no reason to drink it,” she said, bucking research that found moderate alcohol consumption is linked with longevity.
She did smoke briefly when she was very young, but quickly stopped.
When it comes to her diet, Karlan said she likes to eat everything, including sweets and chocolate.
“I like lobster. I like a steak. I like all the goodies of life,” she explained.
She’s always been slim and hasn’t had any problems with maintaining her weight, she added.
When asked if she enjoyed activities like swimming or bike riding, Karlan was matter of fact: “My dear, I’m 100 years old. I don’t like any of those things. In my youth, perhaps.”
The centenarian was a savvy businesswoman, running a gift shop, laundromat and fast food restaurant in Toronto. “I loved it. I was very good at it, very successful,” she said.
Today, her hobbies include reading, doing crossword puzzles, knitting and playing with her dog, a terrier mix.
Karlan’s affinity for shopping, dressing up and looking good has likely also played a role in helping her live a long life, her son said.
“She’s very strong-willed in every sense and she’s got a great deal of energy,” Krauss said. “She’s basically pretty stubborn and that’s why she’s used to her own ways of doing things, and I think that’s a really important thing. She just perseveres through every day.”
When a doctor at the hospital where Karlan is recovering from her fall told her that patients tend to heal slower at her age, she repeated “at her age” with a hint of mocking. “It was then that I knew she would get better,” the doctor told Krauss. “Gerry has never been defined by her age and I suppose that is how you get to be 100.”
Karlan has stayed healthy during the pandemic by getting all of her vaccine doses, always wearing a mask and staying away from anyone who was ill, she said. The centenarian still fondly remembers her “absolutely beautiful” 100th birthday party, held last month in a restaurant in Toronto just before the omicron variant began spreading.
But there is still the matter of finding a companion to take her out and share life with.
“That would be nice. I deserve it,” Karlan said.