World's oldest man celebrates 116th birthday over 100 years after Spanish flu killed his sister

The unofficial 'world's oldest man' has celebrated his 116th birthday in the midst of a global pandemic - more than a hundred years after the Spanish Flu killed his sister.

Centenarian Fredie Blom was born on May 8, 1904, in Adelaide near the Great Winterberg mountain range of South Africa's Eastern Cape province.

In 1918, when he was 14 years old, his sister died from the deadly Spanish Flu and Mr Blom recalled having to sleep outside on a haystack to avoid getting the disease. It killed 300,000 people in the country.

Mr Blom said the worst thing about Covid-19 was the nationwide ban on cigarette sales. His neighbour, Gairoenesa Michael, revealed Mr Blom struggled to understand the coronavirus pandemic.

About South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Blom said: 'He doesn't know what he's doing.' He said cigarettes were his only birthday wish this year.

'I have lived this long because of God's grace,' he added.

He is four years older than Bob Weighton, a 112-year old British resident named the world's oldest living man by the Guinness World Records in March. Mr Blom's age has not yet been verified by the body.

Grandchildren whizzed around as Mr Blom sat on the front yard of his home. Neighbours arrived soon after to sing happy birthday in a drive-by celebration.

Mr Blom spent most of his life working on farms around Cape Town. He met his 86-year-old wife Jeanette at a dance and won her heart with his jive moves.

The couple have been married for almost fifty years. They moved to the Cape Town suburb of Delft three decades ago.

Mr Blom stopped visiting doctors more than two years ago, claiming he was tired of being pricked and prodded.
'Now he just takes two Disprins a day, but sometimes he steals my pills,' Jeanette said, laughing affectionately at her stubborn husband.

Dispirin pills contain aspirin and relieve mild to moderate pain.

While Mr Blom never had children, he adopted Jeanette's two from a previous marriage as his own.

'He has done everything for us,' said Mr Blom's step-daughter Jasmien Toerien, 38.

'He would wake up at three or four in the morning to cycle to work,' she said. 'He loves animals and gardening.'

Mr Blom worked as a gardener and chopped wood until he was 106.

Speaking to News24 in 2019, Mr Blom said that there is no secret to his longevity.

'It's the boss upstairs who decided that my time isn't up yet. I smoke my tobacco. I don't go to the doctor. All I drink is an Eno and a Disprin tablet every day. And I am fine,' he said.

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