In medias res from an item in Psychology Today:
Would you like to be 80 and be physically health with dementia, or with a sound mind in a ruined body?
Pick only one.
In my work, I get to ask questions from the Geriatric Depression Scale like, “Do you think that most people are better off than you are?”
The 80something, I asked this of said, “No, not most, particularly some of the other people around here, whose minds are totally destroyed,” the fairly common response from many who still have a mind that always reminds me of the first line of Ginsberg’s Howl, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”-a line appropriate to the most garden variety of nursing homes.
I’ll call him Mr. Jones. He was a long-time, semi-prominent classicist who forsaking Herodotus–I told him I could barely finish the first book of The Histories, in English–now lies in bed when he’s not in his wheel chair, mostly watching TV. A Yankee fan, he’s happily waiting for the first spring training game only weeks away.
“If only I kind walk,” a refrain I’ve heard scores of times over the years, “my life would be so much better.”
But Jones, unlike some others or possibly me in the future, is making–pick your platitude–the best of a bad bargain and playing the hand fate dealt to him.
Jones told me that, like Thaoo, perhaps, he never expects to leave the nursing home.
“I recognize I can’t live on my own. My son says its an ordeal just to take me for a car ride. But my friends still visit.”
On his nightstand, I see a copy of a journal I never heard of, Classical Philology, so I know that there is more than the Yankees on his sound mind not in a sound body