The Consolations of Philosophy

I sit on the bed waiting for Noni to dress me. My medium-focus glasses don’t give me a clear view of my feet, but I know they are purple and swollen.

I just turned 97. I don’t know why I am still here. I never took especially good care of myself, never had any particular joie de vivre. I simply wake up every morning, still alive.

I can no longer do many of the things I once took for granted. Dressing and feeding myself and all the rest.

Once I scorned those who had faith in God. Now I envy them.

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    • J Hardy Carroll

      I was watching a video on Aeon about a philosopher who recently turned 97 and based this on him. He argued against spirituality his entire life, and yet there he is. All that is left to him is despair.

  1. granonine

    I’ve always been determined to die before I reach this stage of complete dependence and helplessness. However I don’t believe in suicide, so who knows? Maybe it will be my purple feet hanging off the edge of the bed.

  2. pennygadd51

    You use a good, matter-of-fact voice for the narrator, which seems very appropriate to the sentiments he expresses. I hope he finds the faith that he’s missing, and that it will sustain him.

  3. Sandra

    I very much liked the voice for this character. It was entirely appropriate for the stage of life and frame of mind in which he finds himself. Good one.

  4. 4963andypop

    This is hard to read on the anniversary of my mom’s death but you werent to know. The purpling skin makes me especially squeamish, but the despair seems less than a foregone conclusion to me. I have known people with no faith in God who yet manage to die with tremendous grace and dignity, if death is ever dignified, and not by their own hand.

  5. Na'ama Yehuda

    Waking up in the morning and still being alive sounds like it could be both blessing or a curse for this one … And yet … perhaps … a blessing nonetheless?
    Nicely done!

  6. gahlearner

    Great story, this gives a lot to think about. I, too, think that you can face death without despair or bitterness even if you don’t believe in god or gods. Turning to a god in the very last stage of life seems somewhat dishonest, a straw to grasp on, an afterthought.

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