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He’s had 17 children, lived through two world wars and even through the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
At 124 years old, Manuel García Hernández may be the oldest man in the world, and he has the paperwork to prove it: a birth certificate showing his birthdate as December 24, 1896 in the small Veracruz city of Tlapacoyan, where he lived nearly all of his life as a farmer.
“I miss the fields very much,” he told the digital newspaper Sin Embargo this week. “I miss working.”
García now lives with his daughter Tomasa García in Ciudad Juárez, where he moved after his wife died. While he’s looked after by Tomasa and his grandchildren, his family members say his mind is still quick, even if his body is not.
Don Manuel’s advice for living a long life is to work hard and avoid vices.
“Don’t lose yourself to vices, drink, work and eat well and don’t wait to take care of yourself when you’re sick,” he said.
García may be the world’s oldest living man: according to Guinness World Records, as of last October there was no one documented as the world’s oldest man, and the last man to hold the title was a mere 116 years old when he died. The oldest living person ever, male or female, was Jeanne Louise Calment, who died at 122.
However, García’s title is likely never to be confirmed because he and his family have no interest in seeking the validation.
He did get unsolicited recognition, however, from his country’s president last week. President López Obrador noted García’s advanced age on his Twitter account on January 18, a fact which apparently impressed García.
“No president does this, to say hello to the poor,” he told the EFE news agency Saturday from his modest home in Juárez.
The greeting didn’t make him Mexico’s best president ever in García’s eyes, however. That honor goes to Plutarco Elias Calles, who was president from 1924–1928.
“He helped the farmers,” García said. “A request was made, and he attended to people’s needs.”
García farmed until age 100, starting at age 9. He raised animals and crops, waking before dawn to feed the animals and till his fields. He waited to marry until his 40s but made up for lost time with 17 children, who have given him 40 grandchildren. He’s outlived all but four of his kids.
He also outlived his wife Rosa Medino, whom he married when she was 13. She died back in Veracruz 10 years ago, and that was when García moved to Ciudad Juárez, at the urging of his daughter, Tomasa García, 57.
Tomasa herself is an early riser, waking up at 4 a.m. to make her father breakfast before she goes off to work at a factory, despite her father’s objections.
“He tells me not to leave, that on any day I could come back home and not find him anymore,” she said, adding that his grandchildren come by to check on him when she’s at work.