The Wisdom of Patricia Ann Peters Jenkins
In this is an interview with Ms. Patricia Jenkins I will be asking her several questions before I actually make my assessment in this wisdom project. Now, here is brief description of Ms. Jenkins. She is sixty years old. She has salt and pepper brown hair with dark brown eyes. She is a very petite being as she is only five feet tall. I can only guess at her weigh, but it cannot be more than 115 pounds. Ms. Jenkins was born Patricia Peters in Geneva County, Alabama at her parents’ home. Who later moved their family back to their old home place in Graceville, Florida. Where Patricia Peters grew up until she quit school and married Robert Jenkins in 1961. The couple lived in Geneva County for about six years, before they moved to Dothan, Alabama. Pat has since become divorced. She has had many jobs during her lifetime, but now runs her own business.
Ms. Jenkins is my mother. I selected her because I wanted to learn something from my mother as my father only recently passed away and I did not get a chance to do something like this with him.
We spoke at Ms. Jenkins’ home in Dothan, Alabama. There was an abundance of food on the table as she anticipated that I was bringing my family when I came over for the interview. After eating Supper, we had coffee and drinks in the living room while I began to ask my questions. I would say the conditions were favorable and in a relax atmosphere, even though the television was playing and children running in and out of the house. Ms. Jenkins has a favorite chair, which no one is allowed to sit in.
She wanted to know who was going to be seeing my report and why I needed it. When I told her it was simply an assignment for my psychology class, she laughed and said, “So I am being psychoanalyzed”. I assured her that I was not doing that and it was only to discover the wisdom she could share with us. I explained I was trying to learn the similarities between the wisdom from textbooks and the real life wisdom we learn by experience. I let her know that when I have typed the rough draft up, I will allow her to have a copy if she wishes to have it. This seemed to make her feel better about the interview.
As I asked her questions, they seemed to spark memories of her past in which she shared with me. Some of these memories were quite comical in some areas and devastating in others. There was a fondness in her memories; which hinged upon sadness. At certain points during the interview there were tears in her eyes as she remembered her childhood and family members. I began to ask my questions after she had settled into her chair and was comfortable.
1. She was born at home on a farm to Odell and Mae Peters. She was breastfed as a baby. Therefore, she believes contributed to her sense of closeness with her mother and siblings. She stated that she believed breast-feeding a baby was important, because you have to hold the baby close to your heart, where the baby can hear your heartbeat and know that it is loved. There is a special connection between the mother and the child, which stays with the child forever. They worked hard on the farm to provide for the family the necessities for life. The entire family had to work from daylight until dark. This included even preschool age children. Even the youngest child had to pull his or her weight, so far as responsibility.
Another experience that she contributed to making her who she is would be the deaths in her family. The one that hurt her the most was the deaths of her brothers and sister. Patricia said, “You should be kind to the people that you love, because you don't know if you will still have them tomorrow.”
2. If I could change one thing about my life it would be as follows? Her reply was the same remark she made many times that she would have gotten a college education before having her children. If she had gotten the education before having her children then she could have done better for them. Perhaps, she would not have gone from job to job being dissatisfied with them. She could have started her career a lot sooner and been more stable by the time the first baby came. She, also, feels this would have set an example for her children.
3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being 60 years old? When I asked this question, she laughed and said. “I am wiser now than when I was 10. I cannot run as fast as I could when I was 10 years old.” I asked, “By that statement do you wish to be able to run as fast as you did when you were 10 years old?” “Yes. I could get more done if I had that kind of energy”
4. When I asked her to finish this sentence, the more things change . . . She said after careful thinking, “The more things change the harder I try to cope with the changes. I try to have a positive attitude. Changes could be either good or bad; it is how you solve the problems that come your way that determines the outcome of your life. Try to turn a bad situation into a good one. Notice that sometimes a bad thing happens to you but some good comes out of it.”
5. What kind of advice can you give me? I would tell you to “Think positive, don't be a quitter, love your family and friends, and get a college education now. It's never too late”.
6. Which do you feel has more impact on a person nature or nurture?
“Nurture. I believe has more of an impact on every person. I think how your family treats you are
important and will determine how you turn out. In my family everybody had responsibility even preschoolers. Our parents were poor. They owned a small farm which they raised most of the family’s food. There were six children in their family. Her parents worked in the fields from dawn to dusk. Then they would come home to more work at home. Each person in the family had a chore to do which helped the entire family. Ms. Jenkins remembering being about ten years old and having to pull a cotton sack through the field with her little brother, who was two years old, sitting on top of it. She said her mother had made a special cotton sack for him to use. All he could or would pick at the age of two years old was about ten pounds of cotton. She said they got paid about .03 cents per pound of cotton. She remembered how proud he was when he received his pay at the end of the week in the amount of .30 cents. She said it gave each child who was that age a sense of worth. It made them feel like they were just as important as the others in the family. She also added that she could have gotten more work done and better pay if he hadn’t been riding on her cotton sack as she
pulled it down the rows of cotton.
Ms. Jenkins remembered another time when she wanted to join the basketball team at school, but she needed a pair of basketball shoes. Her parents had always provided them with new clothes for school every year, but the shoes they could afford was very cheap and could not be used for basketball. They would have marked up the floors. She went to her mother with her problem. Her mother asked some of their relatives and neighbors if there was any work her daughter could do to make extra money for some shoes. Finally, Ms. Jenkins’ Aunt Merle came to their house and asked if she could help her make cakes. Then he Uncle Damon seen she was willing to work he asked her to help him in the sweet potato fields. She picked up sweet potatoes in the fall of the year from then on out to help pay for her extras for school and for some things just for her. She would always share with her brothers and sisters though if she had something they needed. They were a close family, which worked together. She said they could not have done this if they had not care about each other. They were always hugging on each other and never thought anything wrong with it. They were poor but they always had plenty of love and attention from their parents and each other as they grew up.
7. What do you plan to do in the near future? “I plan to buy more rental houses so I will have an income during my retirement which I can live off of. The houses are not the only sources I have for my retirement income, but it is one that I enjoy doing. I guess that means I will continue to work until I just can’t anymore. I don’t want to be a burden on my kids when I get to old, so I have made the plans I needed to in order to feel independent.”
8. How do you spend your time when you are not working? "I usually visit my sisters or my children. During the summer, I will take a vacation. It is usually in Florida as that is where I own a time-share. I love to go to the beaches. I always have loved to visit the beaches.”
9. Physically, how do you feel? “I feel fine. How am I supposed to feel?” I did not know how to answer that question and simply stated I just wanted to know how she felt at the time.
10. I asked her how she thought she was doing at the age of sixty compared to her mother or other family members at that age? She replied that most of her family members lived to be very old into their late nineties with the exception of her siblings. This bothered her tremendously as she stated her sister had died at age 34 of Leukemia. An older brother died a few years ago of Emphysema at the age of 50. This past year her younger brother, also, died of Emphysema at the age of 58. All three of these siblings were smokers. Ms. Jenkins is a smoker herself. She feels like the time in which they grew up in had its factors in them dying young. Since she is still alive and in great health, she feels she will be one of the ones who live to be old.
Ms. Jenkins is considered to be young old as she is only sixty years old. She seems to be very independent. Nurturing was a big thing in her family. She seems to apply her determination for everything she does. She never gives up her hope.
One physiological change I noticed was the fact that Ms. Jenkins could not run as fast as she could when she was younger. It does appear that her body is slowing down and she is not able to do all the things she would like to do, but she does seem to be very active. I know this does not apply just to her running abilities, but to other aspects of her life.
Biosocial development – would she be considered young-old. Why? She is only 60 years old. Is she more dependent or independent and in what ways? Independent
What physical changes in appearance are evident? She has some wrinkles and age spots. She has lost some muscle tone. What about sensory perceptions? Can she hear and see as well or not as well as would be expected? She now must wear bifocals to read and has another set of glasses to watch television in. What secondary aging signs are noticed? Ms. Jenkins has already gone through the menopause phase of her life. Would you classify her aging as optimal, usual, or impaired? How active is she and how does impact her current functioning? She seems to be very active as she runs her own business and puts in long hours. She finds time to attend to her hobby when she is not working and makes time for her children.
Cognitive development – How is her implicit and explicit memory? Both her implicit and explicit memory seems to be working great as she could easily remember events from her past. She did not display any type of memory problems to me at the time of the interview. What declines in cognitive functioning does she exhibit? Are there any signs of dementia? I do not see any signs of declines in her cognitive functioning at this time; nor do I see signs of dementia. She does worry that she will later suffer from this as her mother did before she died last November.
Psychosocial development – Does she appear to be more assimilating or accommodating? I would say she appears to be more assimilating than accommodating in the sense she is still actively involved in learning a new career and only graduated from college a little more than a year ago. How social is she and how is this impacting her psychosocial development? She has stop dating now, but still has friends, which she sees on a regular basis. How is her self-efficacy? There is definitely no problem with her self-efficacy. She believes in the old saying, “Try, Try again!” This can be seen in the remark she said when asked for advice, “Think positive, don't be a quitter, love your family and friends, and get a college education now. It's never too late”.
There is a sense of meaning and purpose about her, which I can’t quite place into words. I feel that she has a sense of self and believes her life has a reason for being the way it is now. I am looking at Erikson’s Integrity vs. Despair when I say she has told of her experiences and what she has learned from them. She can see a reason for a thing, which happened in her past and feels that in good time all will be revealed to her.
Does she seem to have successfully resolved former stages? Yes, I believe she is where she should be in life. She has seen things, which made her realized the importance of family and achieving her goals. She has strived to gain acceptance and to prove to herself that she has accomplished these things such as her education and financial status as well as mended some broken relationships along the way.
Does she appear to be, developmentally, in the appropriate stages? Why or why not? How do you expect her development to progress? I believe she will continue to be independent until she just cannot fight to be any more. When something happens to her physically, to stop her from being as independent as she is now, then I fear she will rapidly decline in health. She has already stated that she doesn’t want to be a burden on her children when she gets older.
I have to agree with Ms. Jenkins ideals about life. There are many clichés for instance: If life deals you lemons make lemonade. I think this is pretty much what Ms. Jenkins was referring to when she said, “Changes could be either good or bad, and it is how you solve the problems that come your way that determines the outcome of your life. Try to turn a bad situation into a good one. Notice that sometimes a bad thing happens to you but some good comes out of it.” This makes me think of things, which happened to me and I couldn’t understand why at the time. Later, many years down the road I see where these weren’t really so bad, because they did set things in motion which were good for me. When she was telling her story about how her parents taught the children self worth and a since of being a part of the family as a whole, I began to think of my own children and how I could do the same for them. Also, we never really know for sure what will happen to us in the future, but we can look at others in our family to get an idea of what could happen. Thus, giving us an insight to what we need to prepare for in our own future. Seeing what she has gone through makes me wonder what my lifestyle is doing to my family and me. Some changes will be made around my home for sure.