New Jersey nursing home resident who tested positive for COVID on her 105th birthday beats the virus


A New Jersey nursing home resident who tested positive for COVID-19 on her 105th birthday has now beaten the virus, crediting her resilience to her ritual of consuming nine gin-soaked raisins a day and ‘no junk food’.

Lucia DeClerck, who lives at the Mystic Meadows nursing home in Little Egg Harbor, has survived three husbands, two world wars, and now two pandemics.

The great-great grandmother, who was two-year-old when the Spanish flu outbreak hit, has now recovered from the coronavirus more than a century later, having tested positive for the disease on January 25. 

DeClerck’s diagnosis came the day after she received her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Mystic Meadows administrator Michael Neiman told the New York Times

Despite being considered a high-risk patient on account of her age, Neiman said DeClerck didn’t exhibit any serious symptoms of the virus and was back in her room within two weeks, clutching her rosary beads and wearing her signature knitted hat and sunglasses.

‘I’m feeling wonderful’, she told CBS on Monday, adding the secret to her longevity was ‘pray, pray, pray and no junk food.’

But speaking to the Times, she said surviving COVID-19 may have had something to do with another staple in her life: her consumption of nine gin-soaked golden raisins every morning, which she has eaten for most of her life.

‘Fill a jar,’ she explained. ‘Nine raisins a day after it sits for nine days.’

Great-great grandmother Lucia DeClerck (above), who was two-year-old when the Spanish flu outbreak hit, has now recovered from the coronavirus more than a century later, having tested positive for the disease on January 25

DeClerck (pictured on her 100th birthday), who lives at the Mystic Meadows nursing home in Little Egg Harbor, has survived three husbands, two world wars, and now two pandemics

DeClerck (pictured on her 100th birthday), who lives at the Mystic Meadows nursing home in Little Egg Harbor, has survived three husbands, two world wars, and now two pandemics

Her children and her grandchildren recall the ritual to be one of many of DeClerck’s life-long habits and described her as a ‘health freak’. 

Other habits of hers include drinking a homemade concoction of aloe vera juice, apple cider vinegar, ginger, and ‘a little bit of gin’ every day.

The 105-year-old also brushes her teeth daily with baking soda – something she credits for allowing her to keep all her original teeth and not getting her first cavity until she was 99-years-old.  

‘We would just think, “Grandma, what are you doing? You’re crazy,”’ her granddaughter, 53-year-old Shawn Laws O’Neil told the Times. ‘Now the laugh is on us. She has beaten everything that’s come her way.’

Born in Maui, Hawaii, in 1916 to a Guatemalan mother and Spanish father, DeClerck lived through the Spanish flu pandemic, two world wars and the deaths of three husbands and a son. 

She previously lived in Wyoming, California and even moved back to Hawaii for a time, before settling in New Jersey in her late 70s, where she lived with her oldest son Henry Laws III, and his wife, Lillie Jean.

After celebrating her 90th birthday, DeClerck then moved into an adult community in Manahawkin, along the Jersey Shore, where she remained incredibly active until she suffered a fall on Christmas Day 2017, and moved to Mystic Meadows.

‘She is just the epitome of perseverance,’ granddaughter Shawn told the Times. ‘Her mind is so sharp. She will remember things when I was a kid that I don’t even remember.’

The great-great grandmother, who was two-year-old when the Spanish flu outbreak hit, has now recovered from the coronavirus more than a century later, having tested positive for the disease on January 25

'We would just think, "Grandma, what are you doing? You¿re crazy,¿' her granddaughter, 53-year-old Shawn Laws O'Neil told the Times . 'Now the laugh is on us. She has beaten everything that¿s come her way'

Despite being considered a high-risk patient on account of her age, DeClerck didn’t exhibit any serious symptoms of the virus and was back in her room within two weeks, clutching her rosary beads and wearing her signature knitted hat and sunglasses 

Now, having kicked the virus, DeClerck has earned a new moniker from her two surviving sons, five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren: 'The 105-year-old badass who kicked Covid' (DeClerck shown center with family members)

Now, having kicked the virus, DeClerck has earned a new moniker from her two surviving sons, five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren: ‘The 105-year-old badass who kicked Covid’ (DeClerck shown center with family members)

Born in Maui, Hawaii, in 1916 to a Guatemalan mother and Spanish father, she lived through the Spanish flu pandemic, two world wars and the deaths of three husbands and a son

She previously lived in Wyoming, California and even moved back to Hawaii for a time, before moving to New Jersey in her late 70s, where she lived with her oldest son Henry Laws III, and his wife, Lillie Jean

Born in Maui, Hawaii, in 1916 to a Guatemalan mother and Spanish father, she lived through the Spanish flu pandemic, two world wars and the deaths of three husbands and a son

DeClerck is the oldest resident at Mystic Meadows – and a firm favorite among staff and residents alike, according to Neiman. 

‘She’s just the sweetest,’ Neiman told NJ.com

After testing positive for COVID on January 25, DeClerck was reportedly frightened and struggled being isolated from her regular caregivers and fellow residents.

‘We were very concerned,’ her son Phillip told the Times. ‘But she’s got a tenacity that is unbelievable.’ 

DeClerck is one of 62 residents of Mystic Meadows to have contracted the virus since the pandemic began last March. Four of them died, including three who were receiving hospice care, the Times reported.

‘We’re as careful as possible,’ Neiman said, ‘but this [virus] finds a way of sneaking in.’

Neiman described DeClerck, a devout Catholic, as being a ‘little scared’ when she received her diagnosis, but said she remained insistent that ‘God will protect me.’  

Now, having kicked the virus, DeClerck has earned a new moniker from her two surviving sons, five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren: ‘The 105-year-old badass who kicked Covid.’ 

she said surviving COVID-19 may have had something to do with another staple in her life: her consumption of nine gin-soaked golden raisins every morning, which she has eaten for most of her life.

DeClerck pictured in her room on Monday

She said surviving COVID-19 may have had something to do with another staple in her life: her consumption of nine gin-soaked golden raisins every morning, which she has eaten for most of her life.

DeClerck is the oldest resident at the Mystic Meadows nursing home in Little Egg Harbor (above) - and a firm favorite among staff and residents alike

DeClerck is the oldest resident at the Mystic Meadows nursing home in Little Egg Harbor (above) – and a firm favorite among staff and residents alike

DeClerck was also surprised with a phone call from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday morning. 

Murphy later described their chat as an ‘uplifting conversation’ during a coronavirus news briefing. 

For the DeClerck family, they say they’re postponing birthday celebrations until the pandemic is over.

In the meantime, Shawn says all of the family are ‘rushing out and getting mason jars’ to fill with gin-soaked raisins, in an effort to ‘catch-up’.

DeClerck is not the oldest person to survive the virus. Europe’s oldest known inhabitant, Sister Andre, tested positive for the virus aged 116. 

Andre reportedly celebrated her 117th birthday earlier this month with a glass of champagne at a nursing home in Toulon, in southern France, after beating the virus. 

DeClerck, meanwhile, said she’s counting every day after her coronavirus scare as a blessing.

‘I’m very happy to be here. Thank you, Jesus,’ she told NJ.com.  



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