Sunday, March 28, 2021

mortality's end / pack a case and leave the rest

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 Above Roy R. Behrens, Carte Blanche (© 2021). Digital montage.


Ronald Blythe, The View in Winter: Reflections on Old Age. New York: Penguin Books, 1980, p. 103—

A man who dies at forty will usually show one cause of death, wrote Alex Comfort; a man who dies at eighty will probably show nine or ten, so that had we cured the one that in fact killed him, he would have died soon after of something else. Behind this bleak truth lies the reason why so many aged leave home for homes. They are deteriorating. Their mortality, which has been kept in check or which has been concealed for so long, is now unhideable from themselves and from their families and neighbors. The effect of these last diseases, their breaking down of the organism, is called “not being able to manage.” The pressures from inside and outside then begin, and just at a moment when the smallest decision requires a mighty effort, one is asked to make what for most people is a tremendous effort—to go on managing, and knowing that you can’t, or to be managed. To pack a case and leave the rest. Travel light has always been the advice given to pilgrims and the old people’s home repeats it, though for its own convenience, not for the new resident’s.