Interview to a Senior Citizen

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Interview to a Senior Citizen
Mary Gilbert
May 14, 2012

Interview to a Senior Citizen
Having the opportunity of interviewing a veteran from the World War II and Pearl Harbor has been the most rewarding experience I have had in a long time. He is ninety-two years old and it is amazing to see how good he still looks. I have known him since my family and I moved to Fort Campbell, KY. He has an amazing spirit and everyone in the neighborhood knows him and respects him.

He did not hesitate for a moment to agree to this interview. I had the opportunity to see family albums, photos from the World War II and Pearl Harbor, his time in the Navy and all the commemoration letters, achievements, medals that he earned throughout his military career. The interview started with him making jokes about life and politics. The interview lasted almost three hours (see Appendix A & B). I noticed that at times he was vague with his answers or will stay quiet for a while before answering. It was mostly when we talked about his wife and war. I could feel him very sad thinking about the experiences he lived in war and the impact it had on his life. It was noticeable. His memories of his time in the Navy were filled with sadness and joy. He talked about his friends, the few that are still alive, the one’s that passed away and their stories from Hawaii, Europe and many other places they went to.

Getting into the experiences he lived during war was the most surprising aspects of the interview for me. My husband is in the Army and just came back from deployment couple months ago. I could relate to the things he said, because is what I am actually going through with my husband now. Living a military life can be stressful and challenging; not only for the service member but for the entire family. The family is greatly affected by war and deployments. Soldiers go through transitions when they come back and the family has to be ready for what will happen. Willard Waller wrote the book “The veterans come back” in 1944 explaining the transitions for soldiers and their families after coming home from war, the process to readapting to family and a civilian life, fact that is still lived by troops coming from Iraq and Afghanistan now days (Figley & Figley, 2009).

The most significant life transitions and events were life after war and dealing with the death of his wife. Talking about war with him was full of meaningful events such as courage, team work, caring for each other and heroism. Sad memories such as death of friends, fellow soldiers, innocent people, women and children were part of his comments. When he talked about the death of his wife, he cried. Almost ten years later he is still grieving his loss. He explained how wonderful she was and supportive to his career. He mentioned she played an important role in his life for his mental recovery and keeping the family together. For him, she was better than any psychologist or therapist. I could see clearly how much he loved her. He also mentioned how difficult it has been to cope with his loss; not only because he lost his soul mate but due to all the changes he has gone through. He moved with his son, sold his house and had to deal with the idea that his wife was no longer there.

There is no perfect method to successful aging but social support, life satisfaction, good health and family ties can make a difference on how an individual goes through this stage in life (Ferri & Pruchno, 2009). According to Bowling and Iliffe (2011) adding years to life and life to years may require two distinct and different approaches, one physical and the other psychological. “A psychological approach includes perceived self-efficacy, self-esteem and self-worth, confidence, optimism, purpose in life, coping, facing up to problems and overcoming difficulties”. He did not mentioned going through any kind of psychological approach but...
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