“You don’t want to live as long as Maftei, do you?”
That is how people of Osoi play jokes on the elderly of the village, those over 95, anyway. It’s been an old saying since ancient times, since Maftei himself was about 148 years old and so!
Since then, he would have lived, it is said, another half a century more, until 1952. Getting all the attention from some highly important scientifical personalities of the time like, Ana Aslan and I.C.Parhon,the old man’s notorious case, that of Maftei Pop of Osoi was unfairly ignored for quite a few decades.
The documents found recently in the Archives put his case back on the map proving that the Romanian man from Osoi would have undoubtfully lived for no less than 148 years long! A genuine story, behind which the ultimate act of human kindness of simple villagers from Cluj district started wisdomly to unfold.
The Wooden Churches of OSOI
Our daily Jesus
It was one morning of March in 1952 when Beldean’s Iuliana headed off towards the people’s homes, from house to house, to let them know that Maftei had passed away. It was the day when the whole village got into mourning and darkness. The man that death itself seemed to have forgotten about for good, among all the others, that man stopped living. The lonely man died. The oldest one in Osoi and probably in the entire world had passed! Clouds as dark as widows’ scarves were straying fastly from Cluj part to the wake, being rushed by sad ringing bells of the little wooden church. ”He’s gone, poor him, Maftei is gone!
”He’s gone, poor him…oh, Maftei…! Hummed by the children’s squeaking, the sad news got all the people out, in front of their houses. No sooner had the woman reached from one end to the other of the village, than it started to rain heavily, with big drops as in those days when people used to run into him by chance while he was lying down on a bed of hay in their shed and then they would hurry up to bring him some food. ”We have guests again! Let’s pour a shot of plum brandy for him and give him a bite, poor man!”
From the oldest days, for generations to come, people from Osoi were looking after Maftei as after their own grandparents.”Nobody’s man”, the newcomer who got into the village by the time when neither of those now alive had even been born, this old Maftei that death had forgotten about, became one of them.
There was no family that wouldn’t have put him up at least for one single night, on their porch, there was no family who wouldn’t have shared with him even the very last poor bite of food.
To all these people with faith in God, the old Maftei had always been repeated like in a rosary, on and on, Iisus with the face of a poor one who would step in for a little place to lie down during rainy days, the hungry one who would need just a bite of wafer, the thirsty one whom, as a good Christian, you are pleased to welcome with a jug of water, the sick one that, as Bible says, you have to bathe and look after.
A reclusive life
Maftei never knew either money or comfort. He didn’t even care about such things. He lived his entire life as a recluse, being grateful for the least he would owe somebody, concerned not to be himself and his bare needs of too much trouble for the others. He would always turn down a real bed in a normal room where ‘’normal people’’ sleep. During summer he used to sleep wherever he got the chance, under the clear sky at times, he would either hide himself under a tree when raining or on a porch, in a shed and then in winter time he would find a little room in a rather concealed stack of hay or in a stable next to the villagers animals.
”He would tuck himself in a woolen cloth in case the weather were cold and he wouldn’t ask for more but a piece of wood to put under his head.”
This is how a man from the village, Vasile Gavrus, remembers him, gazing at the stable in his yard in which the old Maftei used to sleep so many times….Toughen by hardship, Maftei was endowed with extraordinary strength.
”He was such a strong man, that you had never seen before, tall and thick”, Vasile Gavrus man said to me, pointing to Alexandru Duma, a well- built middle-aged neighbor. The elderly of the village remember Maftei even nowadays as the one over 100 years old who was carrying heavy logs on his back, from a forest on the hills, far away from the nearby surroundings, 4 km away from the village!
Vasile Gavrus 98 years old and his wife Maria Gavrus 96 years old (2013)
Maftei used to love going through the woods! There he was “on his own”, wandering all day long among trees and bushes, clearings and orchards, little meadows, alone with his own thoughts, peeking the horizon with those dark eyes whose mystery nobody had ever really succeded in solving. When autumn was coming, he couldn’t be happier! He would go again and search for fire wood,deep into the forest.He was piling the pieces up, like stacks of hay, then he would pick them up on his back and carry them walking with large and quick steps towards the families in the village.
He would rest shortly for just as long as to be “rewarded” with the food that people would gladly offer him ,then he would set off again alone just with his thoughts. Until very late in life, by the time when so many long years of life had beaten him down a bit, he was still able to work for every single bite the people could provide for him and for every single spread of hay he could lie down on every settlement in Osoi. No matter how hard he would work the rewarding part he used to ask for was always the same: a small portion of corn porridge and whatever goes with it.
He was a free man.
A” lonely wolf” who at the age of 40 and so had already left Valea Loznei for good and headed off towards Osoi, leaving everything behind. A patch of Heaven, hidden behind the hills filled with orchards,split by streams of water in which the sheep are splashing freely and peacefully all day long.
Here in Osoi he met the kindest people who didn’t laugh at him for not having been married and didn’t mock him either, as he hadn’t built a house of his own by that age.Nobody judged him and nobody questioned his reasons of shutting off from the world in a deadend place like Osoi. ”Who knows what he could have been through and how many sins his soul would bear”?
The people understood that Maftei was bearing quietly some sort of a curse or suffering and therefore they let him be. That is how this man had lived peacefully in Osoi for over 100 years long….
The Secrets of Longevity-THE LOST WAYS
How did our grandparents lived almost 100 years?
What they ate, how they ‘fought’? What kind of teas they drank?
The Lost Ways…a true story about our grandparents days! Watch this FREE Video Below
The same age as evergreens
After a while, soon after the World War II was over, it was said that Maftei would have been the oldest man in the country or even in the whole world. But the peasants from Osoi didn’t pay too much attention to this matter, there were other things for them to worry about. What they really knew, the same like their parents had known before, that Maftei was in his 100s.
Nobody had ever known him other than old! One year though, as the oldest ones remember, there was a celebration in the school yard of the commune, in Ciubancuta, where the teacher together with other important people of the place, brought Maftei in front of the children telling them that such an old man like him, they couldn’t have seen ever before, not even in the whole wide world. Then the children started to sing to him “Happy Birthday”!, in a loud voice as their teacher had asked them to in a previous day.
Maftei from Osoi looked really old,with deep sunburnt lines on his face roughened by wind but his hair was not quite white yet and he still had the energy of a youngster. He could hardly hear but he had that mysterious piercing black-eyed sight checking out any move, said Simion. It didn’t take long until very well known doctors from the town came to check him up.
The villagers then realized that there was something strange about their man, indeed. There was no later than 3 days before he passed the doctors had come again. They said they wanted to take some photos of him and the women immediately bathed Maftei, dressed him up with a nice traditional costume so as Osoi could make a good impression by the time those from the town would take the pictures.
They even set the stage for the picture,a nice site behind a house near the downside of the commune, among some tall evergreens as old as Maftei. ”He was doing good, the mother took him a picture, didn’t she? Nothing was wrong with him. Even the people from the town were obviously surprised to see how good he was looking at his very age…..But not for long, because 3 days later he was gone!” remembers Maria Szabo.
Death seemed to have forgotten about him in those green fields of Osoi, in the farthest hideaway of the old Dej District but no sooner had Maftei become “somebody”and no sooner had he been looked for by those people from Bucharest than suddenly death remembered him. This was what the old men of the village were all thinking about in that very morning, a rainy one, of March 16 in 1952. Meanwhile, a few ingenious peasants had already prepared a Christian funeral and a special religious ceremony, a rightful one, for somebody who was worth it.
1952 minus 1804
As soon as the people had found out about Maftei’s death, Iuliana Beldean set out to take care of all the official papers needed under his real name of Pop Maftei (as it was documented) only known as Maftei from Osoi.There was quite a complicated journey of looking for the official papers as a proof of his real date of birth, starting from Ciubancuta and ending with Lozna Valley, his birth place, but there was no luck. There were all suppositions on his real age, claiming that he might have been born around 1800 but nothing dated that the people could have found in the archives. But what the villagers from Lozna did come across eventually was the outmost suprising fact that Maftei was one descendent of a family of “immortals”; his mother might have lived around 110 years and his sister still over 100 as well!
The peasants gathered all the information they had found and went back to Ciubancuta ‘s Local Council. They all remembered what old Maftei was telling them about his real age as he had previously mentioned one time, long before, in a doctor’s office during a check up, namely that he had been born in 1804! That was what Maftei told the doctor at that point of still selfconsciousness.This was what Ileana Beldean knew as well.
All in all,the commune’s secretary wrote down in black ink the official death certificate with the Nr.8/1952.
NAME :POP, SURNAME:MAFTEI, DECEASE DATE: YEAR 1952, MONTH MARCH, DAY 15, TIME 8 pm.
HE HAD THE FOLLOWING LIVING SUPPORT: he was provided the proper living conditions by people’support.
PROFESSION: worker by day.
The secretary didn’t fill in either the names of Maftei’s parents, or the year, month and the date of his birth. He nominated Ileana Beldean as a witness and then for the section entitled ”Special Declaration”, he noted that due to Maftei’s age reference, as very old, some of his personal data could not be identified precisely. The documents were filled in by the witness while Maftei was still alive.
At the end, he dipped the pen into the ink pot again and with everybody in the office witnessing the unfolding of the whole writing procedure, the secretary went on to the next parts of the document for filling in, those that were quite troublesome, in other words, big question marks without specific answers. WHERE DID HE DIE?: at home. At home Osoi”- was actually everywhere, to everybody’s houses in Osoi. As all the people agreed, that was the only wise answer they could come up with. Then, on a small corner of a page from the “Downtown publication”, the secretary did the maths once more: 1952 minus 1804.
He wrote down everything in natural spelling without any bold letters or any other signs that could get somebody’s attention on Maftei’s age, as if it had been nothing out of ordinary, nothing out of this world. He blew over the paper to dry the ink out then he put back the huge pile of documents in the heavy drawer, locked them in and expressed his own condolences for the deceased one saying his good-byes and…
”May he rest in peace,poor Maftei!” .
The man and the history
148 years! The destiny made in such a way that an ordinary man, with no school, born in Lozna Valley, who lived almost his entire life with ups and downs, in a small village like Osoi from Cluj District, to be contemporary with the whole Romanian Modern history. In 1804 when Maftei was born, the terrifying echoes and the deep emotion of Horia, Closca and Crisan martyrdom were still haunting people’s memory in Ardeal region: it had happened only 20 years before! In1848 Avram Iancu’s revolutionary fever had already gotten Maftei pretty good, based on villagers stories.He was a well-built, strong figure, 20 years older than Avram Iancu and he would work and live in people’s houses for just some food in exchange. The 1st World War and shortly after, The Great Unification from 1918 found the old man Maftei well over 100 of age. But many years passed him by like days were passing others by and that is how he lived on throughout the World War II and was still alive when Comunism era set in…Maftei didn’t know too much of history, however, history insisted on not forgetting about him.
60 years and so, after his death, an interesting work about “the Biology of Age”, signed by the prestigious academic figure and professor I.C Parhon, was released very shortly after the death of Maftei Pop, but it only got into the light of the reading public after it had previously been totally ignored for such a long time.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when at the beginning of this year, I have received a phone call and I have been asked to check if it is really true that in 1952 or 1953 a man from Osoi would have died, and that he was the man who the scientist I.C Parhon had written about stating the fact that this man would have lived 140 years” remembers now Lazar Muresan, the secretary of Ciubancuta Council.
He rushed in the Archives and guess what he did find there?! To his even bigger surprise everything under his eyes was crystal clear: 148 years! It was written down there on Maftei Pop’s death certificate. He requested a double check to the Archives of Cluj, the place where a copy of the documents from Ciubancuta had to be registered and indeed, there was no mistake whatsoever.
Maftei, the old man that every single old person in Osoi would remember whenever asked about, had definitely been registered as having lived for 148 years. An outstanding case of longevity, which had come under the scrutiny of so many people before his death, as long as he had gotten even the consideration of famous scientists of the time like Ana Aslan and I.C. Parhon.
Such an amazing existence was ignored in Romania though, for more than half a century. Furthermore, thoroughly rigurous researches done at that particular point in time could have certified without any doubt that Maftei Pop had been the eldest person ever on the face of the Earth. There are some other suppositions claiming that a Chinese would have lived over 250 years long, however, the officially certified record belongs to a French woman, Jeanne Calment(1875-1997).
Nevertheless, taking all researched data into consideration, Maftei Pop definetly lived much longer than 122 years…
Either way, I.C. Parhon ‘s scientific consemnations come to point out once more the incredible story of the “immortal” of Osoi. In chapter IV of his book entitled “The Biology of Age.Clinical and experimental researches”, Parhon obviously expressed his admiration and aroused interest on those many observations made by specialists during his life time. ”He had a rigurous strength for somebody of his age, considered to be a phenomenon. He had an impressive, unseen before, muscular force.
He used to work on an ancient thresher he could turn simply by hand. With just one hand he would pull those 2 yoked buffalos. He could also carry on his back 3 long beams from 2-3 km away, far behind the hills, until he was 100. At the age of 120 he could still carry a piece of wood of 10-12 m long, from 2-3 km away.Everything about him let I.C.Parhon in awe together with anyone who knew him or even herad of him: his muscular posture, the body building, his pulse 92 per minute, his blood pressure 16/8.
Maria lui Sabo from Osoi
The Secrets of Longevity:plum brandy and cornmeal
“The truth is that back in the old days, here in Osoi people used to live healthy. There are plenty of orchards here, forests and plum trees, for as far as you can see ahead of you, therefore during summer you can hardly see the houses among the fruitful trees!” said in excitement Alexandru Duma, a young farmer, in love with the countryside of his childhood.
”My grandpa used to tell me that in the morning when Maftei was sleeping in our shed, he would bring him a portion of corn porridge and a shot of brandy, as it was the tradition of the place, to keep him full till lunch was ready. On the other hand, the people back then, used to have simple meals, nothing sophisticated, like: jam made of plums with no sugar, dry fruits, boiled corn and milk.
Maftei used to have a little jug of about 1 and a half, made of clay and he would keep it firmly secured at his waist. As he was walking along the village streets people would stop him and pour in some culture milk. The traditional, basic and healthy organic food kept Maftei alive and kicking for so long ”thinks alexandru Duma.” And that shot of good plum brandy,f rom grandpa, God save his soul!”
We are on a small hill, in the plum orchard” of Onut. ”Here is the place where Maftei is buried right beside the blacksmith’s grave.” This was customary in the old days, to have the people buried in their own yards and one of the families that took care of Maftei in his late years, a family that was closer to his heart, insisted on having him buried in their yard as if he were one of them, part of the family,” says Ducu Duma.
Maftei died right in the house that Maria Szabo used to live in… At that time, aunt Maria was just a school child but she remembers perfectly the family’s preparations. ”Everybody in the village came to the funeral from the youngest one to the oldest one, nobody was missing” says aunt Maria while showing me the pile of ground underneath which Maftei was lain to rest.
They had put a wooden cross at his head like the ones made in those days but later they replaced it with one made of iron, stronger than time.” Keep this in mind, people have never forgotten Maftei and they never will. They still pay a church fee every single year so that the priest will call his name at the church mass on Sundays when all the passed ones are dearly called on their names and reminded in the people’s prayers.
The tomb of Maftei -OSOI
Well, how strange, life can be!
Who would have ever thought that somebody, one day, would come and ask about Maftei May God rest him in peace, he lived a harsh life, around us, around others, in suffering and poverty”. Aunt Maria took a humble Christian bow in front of old Maftei’s grave, the grave that she takes such a good care of every spring when the green and freshly revived grass will cover it and keep a glimpse of the man’s afterlife.
Once Upon a Time in America…Are you ready to turn back the clocks to the 1800s for up to three years?Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were the last generation to practice the basic things that we call survival skills now. …Watch the video below!