Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Mich., was born May 23, 1899.
DETROIT -- Jeralean Talley is set in her ways. It happens after living 113 years.
Every morning, she drinks black coffee with a little sugar. Talley doesn't eat cheese because she doesn't like it and lives by the motto: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
"Her mind is good," said her daughter, Thelma Holloway.
Talley, who was born May 23, 1899, and lives in Inkster, is now the oldest living American -- and third-oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which keeps a list of the world's oldest people.
"I feel all right," Talley said Tuesday in the home she's lived in for decades.
She became the oldest person living in the U.S. when Elsie Thompson of Florida died March 21 and she moved up to the No. 3 spot in the world with the recent death of Maria Redaelli-Granoli of Italy, according to officials with the Gerontology Research Group, who verified her age.
"In this particular case, the 1900 census was the defining factor for identification," said Robert Young of the research group. "We checked the parents and siblings to make sure it's the correct person listed in the records."
When Talley was asked why she thinks she has lived so long, she lifted her arm and pointed to the sky.
"Don't ask me," she said. "Ask him."
What happens next is in God's hands, she said.
Talley was born in Montrose, Ga., and moved to Michigan in 1935.
The national average age is 78.7 years. She outlived that by three decades to reach the rare milestone of becoming a supercentenarian -- a person who is 110 or older.
Only about one in 5 million people living in the U.S. become a supercentenarian, experts say.
The reason people live that long appears to have less to do with health-related behavior like exercise and smoking and more to do with genetics, said Dr. Tom Perls, professor of medicine at Boston University and director of the New England Centenarian Study.
Perls said evidence shows it is not a few rare genes but rather of combination of many.
"Getting that right combination is what makes it rare," he said. "It's like winning the lottery."
Dr. L. Stephen Coles, the executive director of the Gerontology Research Group, began studying supercentenarians because he wanted to know the secrets to why they live so long.
He found that while the oldest living people in the world have varying religions, occupations and lifestyles, they often have parents, siblings and children who also live a long time.
"That means to me that longevity is inherited," he said.
Several of Talley's 11 siblings lived well into their 90s, said 75-year-old Holloway, Talley's only child.
Currently, five generations of the family are alive, she said.
Talley, who gave up bowling at 104, uses a walker to get around and still plans to attend her annual fishing outing with Michael Kinloch, a friend from Canton she met more than two decades ago at church. This year, it is set for May 25, if the weather is good.
"Her memory is phenomenal," he said.
It's evident by the stories she tells, including growing up on a farm in Georgia and about the only time she drove a car.
"I tried that one time," in her 30s, she said.
The plan was to put the car in the garage.
"I didn't hit the right one to make it go forward and it went backwards," she said, laughing.
Husband Alfred Talley, who died in 1988, hollered at her.
"I opened the door ... and got out of the car," she said.
She told him when she got ready to go somewhere in the future, he would drive her.
Talley's friend Mary Kennedy has been a nurse for 40 years and said Talley remains alert and has a sense of humor.
"She is original," Kennedy said. "There is nobody else like her."