Continuity Theory of Adult Aging

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Looking at B. D. you would never know her strength. If you were generous you could say she was five feet tall, her face wrapped in leathery skin, and pepper gray hair sitting rather untamed on her head. Do not be mistaken, though, for B. D. has endured many hardships and has overcome them all. She is part Mexican, part Apache, and the mother of seventeen children, and one stepdaughter. She was the wife to a World War II Veteran, and the sole caregiver for a daughter paralyzed by spina bifida. At the age of eighty two B. D. is still very cognizant. Life Story

B. D. was born in El Paso, Texas in 1927, to a ranching family of eight. Her father was Apache and her mother was Mexican. She tells, rather affectionately, of her paternal uncles who rode around shirtless on their horses and that her mother often called them "damned horse thieves." B. D. was not greatly influenced by her father's Apache upbringing, he seemed to be the most even keeled of them all. She instead was raised in a very heavily Mexican influenced tradition on a ranch. During her early years B. D. recalls always having chores to do on the ranch. Every morning the girls were in charge of waking up early and starting breakfast for the family and any workers that might be staying at the ranch. Breakfast consisted of refried beans, homemade tortillas--which the girls were responsible for making--and hopefully some sort of meat, whether it was eggs or brisket or any other sort of meat they could come across. Then they were to clean after breakfast and clean the house before leaving to school. The boys were in charge of collecting the wood for the stove and tending to the animals outside, if they happened to have any at the time.

B. D. was required to get a job as soon as she was old enough, and the money she made was to go to the family. Her first job was as a waitress in a local restaurant. B. D. recalls fond memories of having the opportunity to get out of the house and away from the chores, even if it was only to work. There she recalls putting on earrings and a little of bit of lipstick, because her mother would never allow such flirtatious accessories anywhere near the house. If her mother had ever found out she wore such things, she "would have been in big trouble!" B. D. recalls her mother having the most beautiful voice she had ever heard; this is probably where she got it from. In those days, church was a large part of their life, and even though her father was Apache, her mother insisted they go to church regularly. It was here that B. D. really honed her skills as a singer.

In those days it was not unusual for people to marry young. In fact, it was encouraged; the sooner she got married the sooner she could have a husband and children who could help on the ranch as well. So it came as no surprise to anyone when she met and shortly thereafter married her husband P. D. She met him in town, their families knew each other fairly well. She was not allowed to date the way the youth does these days, but she did go on a "date" with him; it was to dinner, just the two of them. It was not long after this dinner date that they were married.

B. D. was not married long before her husband was called to serve and fight in World War II. Having grown up in a predominantly Mexican household neither B. D. nor her husband spoke much English; in fact neither of them finished high school either. P. D. was a part of the forces that occupied Japan, which is quite remarkable considering he did not speak much English, and could not communicate well with his fellow soldiers.

When P. D. returned from Japan so began their family. In total they had seventeen children, and a daughter from P. D.'s first marriage. B. D. and her husband took over the ranch where B. D. had grown up followed the same customs as her parents. All the girls were in charge of cooking all the meals, and all children were in charge of chores that were to be done...
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