A a human being of the female persuasion, I’ve been told my entire life that there is no sin more grievous than growing older. Since my 20s I’ve been slathering myself head to toe with creams and serums that promise to keep me looking young and supple. I used to privately panic as the seconds of my life ticked away to my sell-by date, but at the same time, another feeling began festering inside of me—a conviction that, despite what society says about aging, I was, in fact, growing exponentially more awesome with each passing day.
Getting older is amazing. Gone are the worries of younger days, gone is the patience for nonsense and tomfoolery. Look around and see all the unstoppable women in food who have slowed down for nothing, who are running kitchens on their own terms, telling our stories in delicious ways, indelibly changing our entire culture, and being badasses until the bitter end.
Today, The Takeout takes a pause to honor one such woman, who has steadily worked in near obscurity for 93 years until a recent Boston Globe profile turned her into a viral superstar that has inspired the masses. Let us all take a moment to tip our hats to Virginia Oliver, who is still out catching lobsters off the coast of Maine at age 101.
Oliver began working on lobster boats with her father when she was 8, right before the Great Depression. After she raised four children, she went right back to work on the water, partnering with her husband on their family lobster boat The Virginia. (Named for her, of course.) Her husband passed away 15 years ago, and today, she works alongside her 78-year-old son Max. Oliver’s job is to measure the lobsters, put bands around their claws, and—as seen in the viral photo above that made her the biggest celebrity in lobster fishing—tossing the undersized lobsters back into the water.
“I grew up with this,” Oliver told the Globe. “It’s not hard work for me. It might be for somebody else, but not me.”
Other lobstermen, the Globe explains, are in awe of Oliver’s spirit and strength, pointing out how physically demanding the job is and mentioning how, for most of us, retirement is the ultimate dream. Does Oliver perhaps think that she might hang up her lobstering boots before she turns 102? Of course not, because Virginia Oliver is unstoppable, unflappable, and the sort of woman I aspire to be.