PITTSBURG -- Age has its privileges, which is why California's oldest resident -- 113-year-old Opal Thompson -- had two celebrations to mark her birthday along with a bouquet of three dozen red roses from "Dr. Phil."
Staff at the Diamond Ridge Healthcare Center nursing home held a party for Thompson and other residents with January birthdays on Monday -- the day that Thompson turned 113 and received the roses. On Sunday, several of Thompson's family members held their own party for her.
She officially became the state's oldest living resident after the Aug. 30 death of 114-year-old Soledad Mexia, who lived in Chula Vista in San Diego County, according to the Gerontology Research Group.
Thompson, a big fan of "Dr. Phil," received her customary bouquet of roses from him. From 2006 through 2010, family members have taken her to Los Angeles six times to be in the studio audience for show tapings. And for the show's 1,000th episode in February 2010, she appeared as a guest.
After the trips stopped in 2011, "Dr. Phil" has sent bouquets of birthday roses to Thompson, who has lived at Diamond Ridge since July 2007.
"Imagine sending that many flowers to an old woman. My stars, look at this," said Thompson, dressed in smart royal purple attire as she sat at a table in the community room at Diamond Ridge, where the huge flowers were displayed along with a card from "Dr. Phil and Robin." Well-wishers came by and took her photo.
Thompson is also the 10th-oldest living person in the United States and 15th-oldest worldwide, according to the Research Group's list of 66 validated super-centenarians (a designation of being 110 years or older), of which only four are men.
"She is very aware of her age," said her great-niece, Glenda Coccimiglio of Martinez, who attended both celebrations. "When I tell her, she kind of scrunches up her nose and shrugs her shoulders like it's not a big deal."
Born on Jan. 13, 1901, in what was then known as Indian Territory and is now Oklahoma, Thompson was one of 12 children. She later lived in Long Beach, where she worked as a waitress and in a health food store. She outlived the professional wrestler she married, along with the couple's only child, a son.
Thompson never smoked, and before moving to Diamond Ridge would have an occasional glass of red wine before dinner, Coccimiglio said. Prayer, eating healthy foods and having some fun also keep the years coming, according to Thompson.
"We're calling this her super-golden birthday because she is turning 113 on Jan. 13. Her last golden birthday was when she turned 13 on the 13th of January," said Coccimiglio, who along with five generations of family members, gave Thompson the birthday party on Sunday at Diamond Ridge.
Thompson's three great-great-great nieces helped her with her candles.
"She just loved watching them. They helped her blow out the candles. It was amazing to watch her around them," Coccimiglio said.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.