Until about the age of 40, maybe even 45, most of us generally feel confident that we have more years ahead of us than behind us. But as we approach, oh, say, about the age of 50 or 55, we realize that we're on the shorter side of life.
I'm at an age where I know I have fewer years left than I've already lived and sometimes I think, What will become of me? (Morbid, you say? Well, death is a fact of life: no one lives forever.) Knowing I've lived more than half my allotment of years I want to use the time I have left wisely: I have a lot of things I'd like to do before I die. But I'd like to have a guess how many years that could be (even though there's no certainty, of course). Since longevity may be inherited I thought my ancestors' lifespans might give me a clue, so I made a list of my direct ancestors, their ages at death, and their causes of death.
Age / Name / Dates / Cause of Death (if available) / Relationship
24 Beulah Gerner Doyle / 1888-1913 / illness after childbirth / grandmother
31 John Froman / 1841-1871 / ? / 2nd g-grandfather
33 Emma Nelson / ~1845-1878 / ? / 2nd g-grandmother
44 Gust Doyle / 1888-1933 / colon cancer & after-effects of surgery / grandfather
67 Mary Thompson Bickerstaff / 1872-1940 / coronary thrombosis / g-grandmother
67 Ellis Bickerstaff / 1840-1907 / suicide-mental breakdown / 2nd g-grandfather
68 Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen / 1852-1920 / cancer of the face / g-grandmother
68 Tressa Froman Doyle / 1867-1936 / brain hemorrhage / g-grandmother
72 Andrew Doyle / 1836-1908 / intestinal obstruction / 2nd-g-grandfather
73 John Thompson /~1850-1923 / lobar pneumonia / 2nd g-grandfather
74 Lee Doyle / 1913-1987 / heart attack / father
74 Edward Jesse Bickerstaff /1871-1945 / cancer of prostate gland / g-grandfather
78 William Doyle / 1863-1941 / chronic valvular heart disease / g-grandfather
78 Frederick Gerner / 1848-1926 / chronic interstitial hepatitis / g-grandfather
78 Lydia Bell Thompson / 1851-1930 / cerebral apoplexy / 2nd g-grandmother
79 Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen / 1893-1973 / cardiac arrest / grandmother
79 Christian Gerner /~1820-1899 / ? / 2nd g-grandfather
79 Rebecca Smith Bartley / ~1820-1899 / ? / 2nd g-grandmother
82 Audrey Meinzen Doyle / 1915-1997 / ? / mother
84 Catherine Saylor Froman / 1844-1928 / heart disease / 2nd g-grandmother
86 William Bickerstaff / 1807-1893 / paralysis / 3rd g-grandfather
87 W. C. Robert Meinzen / 1892-1979 / ? / grandfather
88 Elvira Bartley Gerner / 1854-1943 / senility, arteriosclerosis / g-grandmother
88 Henry Carl Meinzen / 1837-1925 / complications of old age / g-grandfather
91 Jacob Bell / 1824-1915 / valvular heart disease / 3rd g-grandfather
94 Dixon Bartley / 1806-1900 / ? / 2nd g-grandfather
I also have two great-aunts, one maternal, one paternal, who lived to be over 100.
I still don't know what will become of me but I know I've lived longer than four of my direct ancestors and am younger than 22 of those ancestors when they died. I know that there are still about 30 years between my age and the age at which the oldest ancestor died. I still don't know how old I'll be when I die, but what an interesting exercise. And now I'm off to make good use of the time I have left!