Oldest American Jeralean Talley is also the second-oldest person in the world. / Elisha Anderson, Detroit Free Press
DETROIT -- Her life spans parts of three centuries.
And Friday, Jeralean Talley will hit a milestone only a handful in the world ever have experienced: She turns 115.
The Inkster, Mich., woman, who bowled until she was 104, went fishing last year, and still gets around on her own with the help of a walker, had some memorable birthday gifts in recent years, including checks for $113 - a dollar for every year she lived at that point - and jewelry from a couple of her doctors.
She plans to celebrate her birthday with friends and family at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Inkster on Sunday and has one outing lined up Friday: a trip to the doctor for a checkup.
"I don't feel sick," Talley said.
But different places on her body hurt occasionally, like her knees. She said her right hand shakes, she has a hard time hearing, and her memory comes and goes.
Talley is the oldest living American and second-oldest person in the world on a list kept by the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks many of the world's longest-living people.
Experts say only about one in 5 million people living in the U.S. become a supercentenarian, a person who lives to be 110 or older.
Talley's answer to why she has lived so long hasn't changed over the years.
"It's all in the good Lord's hands," she said. "There's nothing I can do about it."
She was born May 23, 1899, in Montrose, Ga., and moved to Michigan in 1935. Her husband, Alfred Talley, died in 1988.
They had one child, Thelma Holloway, 76, who lives with her mother and helps take care of her.
Five generations of the family are living in the area, including Talley's 14-month great-great-grandson, Armmell Holloway. Talley lights up around him, smiling when she talks to him.
In the morning, he'll tell her, "It's time to get up," Thelma Holloway recalled.
"They understand each other," she said. "That's her heart."
The Gerontology Research Group verified Talley's age using census data. Its list currently includes 74 people at least 111 years old, but the group believes there are probably about 300 to 450 supercentenarians living in the world.
Misao Okawa of Japan is 116 and tops the list.
Since being covered in the news, Talley, who is second on the list, has gotten a few letters from young people, including one from a 17-year-old in Nebraska, who asked her to share spiritual wisdom.
She is very religious, still attends church when she can, and lives by the motto: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Last week, a crew with CNN came to talk to her, and the report is expected to air sometime next week on "Anderson Cooper 360."
In her younger days, she often sewed. Now, Talley spends much of the day watching television or looking out the window and loves to play with her great-great-grandson.
"Her health has been good," her daughter said.
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