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The World’s Oldest Woman Emma Morano Celebrates Her 117th Birthday

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As the only living person born in the 1800s, Italy’s Emma Morano’s life spans three centuries, making her the world’s oldest person alive. Over the years, she’s survived multiple wars, an abusive marriage, and the loss of her only child, a son.

According to the BBC, Morano, who celebrated her 117th birthday on Tuesday, credits her longevity to her genetics and diet; her mother lived to 91 and many of her sisters lived to see 100. Morano’s daily diet included eating three eggs — two of which were raw, on the recommendation of a doctor after a case of anemia — every day since she was a teenager; now, she’s reduced it to only two eggs and few biscuits.

Morano’s other secret to a long and happy life? Kicking out her husband after her infant son died in 1938; according to an interview with La Stampa newspaper, her marriage was marked by troubles. Although they remained separated, Morano never divorced her husband, and chose to never remarry again, summing it up succinctly in a statement to the New York Times: “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone.”

As an homage to Morano’s extraordinary life, there will be a musical performance telling the story of her life, which according to the play’s writers, “represents the feminine courage which rebelled against domestic violence.”

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com