Paradise could not wait any longer: the doyenne of humanity, the French sister André, died Tuesday at the age of 118, after a life marked to the end by the taste for others and a devastating humor.
A few days before her 119th birthday, “she died at 2:00 a.m. There is great sadness but she wanted it, it was her desire to join her beloved brother. For her, it's a release, "said AFP David Tavella, in charge of communication at the Sainte-Catherine-Labouré accommodation establishment for dependent elderly people in Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast, where she lived. .
The funeral will take place in the strictest privacy, he added.
For several years, the nun born Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904 in Alès (Gard), did not hide a certain weariness: she wanted to "retire from this affair". But “the good Lord does not hear me”, she confided to AFP in January 2022, during a long meeting.
Blinded in a wheelchair, Sister André had a hard time having lost part of her abilities.
“They say that work kills, me it was work that made me live, I worked until I was 108”, she said in April 2022, when she was made dean of humanity. , after the death at 119 of the Japanese Kane Tanaka.
No official organization attributes these titles of dean or dean, but specialists agreed that Sister André was until now the oldest living person whose civil status had been verified.
The Guinness Book of Records also recorded this record on April 25.
A deep faith
In her retirement home, she never said no to a little chocolate or a glass of port. His life was punctuated by a mass every morning. She always appeared in her nun's habit, a blue kerchief over her hair.
She carried within her “her mission as a 'servant' of others”, explained in April Sister Thérèse, another boarder, certain that “her deep faith” kept her going.
The door to her modest room was always open in case anyone wanted to hang out because “all day alone with your pain is no fun”.
In 2021, she had crossed the Covid without difficulty, becoming a symbol of hope which had sparked a flood of letters from all over the world.
She regularly joked about the record to beat, that of Jeanne Calment, who died at 122 in Arles in 1997, in the south of France that they shared. Jeanne Calment therefore remains the person who has lived the longest in the history of humanity and whose civil status has been verified.
But Sister André is still the 4th person to have lived the longest, behind Jeanne Calment, Kane Tanaka and an American, according to Laurent Toussaint, specialist in extreme longevity in France interviewed by AFP.
The probable new dean of the French is a 112-year-old Vendean, Marie-Rose Tessier, born Bousseau on May 21, 1910, told AFP the French specialist Laurent Toussaint who participates in the scientific base IDL (International Database on Longevity).
However, we must be “very careful”, he insisted because it is possible that an even older person is not known.
“Sharing great love”
Coming from a non-practicing Protestant family, Sister André, written in the masculine in homage to one of her three brothers whom she adored, was a governess in Paris before returning late to orders, within the company of Daughters of Charity.
Her memory intact to the end, she shared many memories, the dramatic loss of her twin Lydie at 18 months or her arrival in Paris. “I had only lived in the Gard, in a small town, ugly, I arrived in a radiant town. I was taking care of two children”.
She worked officially until the end of the 1970s and then spent 30 years in an Ehpad in Savoie where she took care of residents sometimes younger than her, before arriving in Toulon.
She was still waiting with joy for the visit of her grand-nephews and great-grand-nephews or that of the mayor of Toulon, Hubert Falco, who expressed "his immense sadness" on Tuesday.
From her long time on earth, Sister André will have tirelessly advised "always to love without restriction, to love without expecting anything in return because when we love others, when we go to others, we are not afraid of the unknown. “, explained David Tavella who became his confidant.
And for her, if there were to be two goals in life, it would be to “share a great love and not compromise on one's needs”.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)