As she prepared to turn 100 on Wednesday, Gloria Weberg knew exactly the present she wanted to get: She treated herself to a tattoo.
It’s not the first time the centenarian has gotten inked. She’s had an appointment with a tattoo artist every 10 years since she turned 80.
“One of my friends and I decided that we would have some fun and we went out one evening and decided we’d get tattoos,” Weberg, who lives in St. Joseph, Michigan, told TODAY.
She repeated the experience at 90.
“Then when I was going to reach 100, my friends started asking me the same question again: ‘Are you going to get another tattoo, Gloria?’ I didn’t want to disappoint them. So I got another one.”
Her left arm now proclaims the city, state and year of her birth: “NY NY 1922.” That newest tattoo is right beneath the previous designs: one that shows a goddess Earth mother and a collection of seven stars that represent Weberg’s seven children.
“I think it’s wonderful,” her son Thomas said of the tattoos as the family was gathering for a birthday party in St. Joseph where Weberg lives independently in her “very cute little house.”
She takes care of everything on her own, including cooking, cleaning and gardening. The centenarian was still driving a car up until this year. No serious illnesses have impacted her life, she said.
Asked about his mother’s extraordinary healthy longevity, her son was quick to list a variety reasons: “She’s active physically and mentally. She’s very politically involved. She’s active in her community. She likes a glass of wine every day,” he said.
Weberg confirmed her fondness of drinking a glass of red wine with dinner every evening. That’s in line with research that has found people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol live longer than those who abstain.
Her diet consists of lots of vegetables, a habit she picked up when she was a little girl during the Great Depression and ate lots of spinach, mashed potatoes, bread, butter and milk — “just normal, comfortable food that kept you alive and healthy,” she said.
But Weberg is not a vegetarian and eats meat. She’s never been a heavy person and hasn’t had to closely watch her calorie intake, she said.
When it comes to life philosophy, she’s been inspired by a Tibetan proverb that states, “The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.”
The centenarian exercises regularly by doing aerobics at home while watching the news. She also loves to swim and leads water aerobics classes at local pools.
After raising seven children, Weberg decided to go to college and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work from Chicago State University when she was 55. She calls herself an activist who is busy with get-out-the-vote efforts during elections, including the upcoming mid-term vote this fall.
When asked about the secrets of her longevity, Weberg was matter-of-fact.
“Everybody asks me that same question and I really don’t know how to answer it except that I’m a positive person to begin with,” she said. “I’ve always looked at the positive side of things, I’m an optimist, I’m a happy person.”
Indeed, people who were optimistic had greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity,” or living to 85 and beyond, studies have found.
Finally, a reporter inquired about what kind of tattoo Weberg wanted to get for her 110th birthday.
"Let’s wait till I get there and then you can call me again," she replied.