An Interview with Malcolm


AnInterview with Malcolm


Peoplehave different perceptions and attitudes towards death. Every day,people lose lives through various instances including sickness, oldage, accidents, suicide terrorism among others. When death occursthrough accidents, it is usually unprecedented. However, during oldage death becomes a reality since the senior citizens know at onetime, they will cease to exist. Also, the life of senior citizens ischaracterized by the loss spouse and friends, and the individualshave to cope with the grief. The course requirement and my naturalinquisitiveness led me to interview an elderly man in Chestnut.

Icould not get a chance to interview a family member since I lost mygrandmother six years ago and my grandfather succumbed to kidneyfailure three years later. After her death, I could tell that mygrandfather found it challenging to cope with a life devoid of theperson she had spent 52 years together. He became reserved and afterone year, his kidney disorder flared leading to frequenthospitalizations and the eventual demise. I approached mygrandfather’s longtime friend with whom they had served in Belt’sCorp in Fell Street in Maryland before moving to Chestnut where henow resides.


Itwas not challenging to introduce myself to Malcolm since I hadpreviously visited him on several occasions in the company of mygrandfather. Malcolm was born 85 years ago in Charlestown, Marylandand later relocated to Chestnut where he settled with his wife andtwo sons. He lost his wife in 1991 in a grisly car accident. I notedthat he treasured his family by his emphasis on how he had ensuredthey led a decent life. After college, his sons left home to work indifferent states. One is a lecturer in Louisiana and one practiceslaw in Florida. Malcolm is a reserved man, and he spends most of histime sitting in the garden on his favorite bench. Under the bench, Inoted a collection of cigarettes butts that made me conclude that hestill smoked. Every two weeks, the nurse takes him to the hospitalfor his regular diabetes monitoring.

Malcolmconfides with me that he is so much unlike his father who believed inthe independence of his children and did very little to improve theirlives. He blamed his father for his challenging beginning as alaborer until he learned through apprenticeship and intensepersistence to become one of the most skilled workers in Belt’sCorp. He swore to provide his children with the best education, andhe still calls them once every week. He hails them for taking afterhim since they fly home with their children every summer to visithim. However, has never visited them, as he prefers being close tohis house, which he insists that it gives him a sense of pride, andbelonging.

Malcolmwas diagnosed with diabetes 11 years ago, but he seems oblivious tothe dangers that smoking can cause to his health. I try to point outabout the ailments that tobacco can cause but he is fast to countermy well-intended point but reiterating that he only have a few yearsto live before joining his wife. According to him, emotionalfulfillment is the most import goal in life. When he married hiswife, he ensured that he saved enough for emergencies and health.They lived happily until her death.

Malcolmconfesses that he has never fully recovered from the shock hesuffered from the sudden demise of his wife. After the mourningperiod was over, he would sit on the bench late in the nightsometimes thinking that she would come back. He also understands thatit is not possible for his children to visit regularly since theyhave to attend their occupations and take care of their families. Inaddition, he does not take pleasure in making new friends since mostof his middle adulthood acquaintances are demised or too old to walk.Therefore, when he is not sitting on the bench perusing the paper, hetrims the shrubs in the compound and his precision is evident in theregular patterns of the hedges.

Malcolmbelieves that he only has a few years to live. While some people maybe worried to think about death, Malcolm appears at peace withhimself and his achievements. He is pleased with the progress of hischildren and grandchildren. According to him, he has given them allhe could afford. He has a life insurance scheme and has alreadywritten his will. He is also content that he can trim the hedges andmaintain a garden that his wife kept.


Ilearnt several things from my interaction with Malcolm. First, oldage is usually characterized by loss of spouses and friends. Malcolmdoes not have close friends since most of them have succumbed tovarious conditions. Also, he suffered loneliness after theunfortunate death of his wife, an incident that he describes as themost challenging in his life. Secondly, the contentment that oneachieves in old age is dependent on the efforts ones make in earlyand middle adulthood. Malcolm built a house for his family and tookthem to the colleges of their choice. Consequently, they are wellestablished and they visit him during summer. He does not haveregrets about his life and he seems prepared for a peaceful death inold age.

Italso dawned on me that after death, individuals require social andmoral support to shorten the mourning period. The absence of closefriends and family can result in extended loneliness. For example,Malcolm confesses that he is still grieved by the loss of his wifesince he does not stay close to his children or friends. Death ofloved ones can result in severe depression when the emotional needsof the bereaved members are not met.


Afterthe interview, I discovered that there is so much that the societyoverlooks regarding the needs of the elderly. Most of the time,family members take little effort to be close to their old parentsassuming that they cannot offer valuable advice. However, I learntthat we can avoid a lot of mistakes by learning from the failures andsuccesses of the senior citizens. In addition, it is evident that theelderly also need physical assistance. Malcolm is privileged becausehe can walk and trim the hedges. There are others who are weak andthey continue to shrink into the shell of loneliness due to lack ofsocial support.

Inconclusion, my interview was more than a coursework activity it wasa learning session. Malcolm taught me that every effort counts andone will have a chance of reflecting back and assessing his/hersuccesses and failures. A close-knit family is instrumental incontributing to emotional health in the sunset years. It was alsoevident that constructive hobbies can help in mental and physicalexercise. The desirable tendencies developed in early adulthood canbe vital in countering loneliness and emotional disturbance.

Questionsused in the interview

  1. Where did they come from?

  2. How are you like your father? Unlike him?

  3. How are your children like you? Unlike you?

  4. Which do you think you have the most of: talent, intelligence, education, or persistence? How has it helped you in your life?

  5. Who are three people in history you admire most and why?

  6. What kinds of things bring you the most pleasure now?

  7. What things are most important to you now? Why?

  8. What’s your typical day like now? How is it different from your daily routines in the past?

  9. How do you feel now about growing old? What’s the hardest thing about growing older? The best thing?

  10. What have you liked best about your life so far?

  11. What’s the most difficult thing that ever happened to you? How did you deal with it?

  12. Do you have a philosophy of life? What’s your best piece of advice for living?

  13. What would you like your children and grandchildren to remember about you?