Our Penultimate Resting Places

John Fischer recounts visiting “continuing care retirement communities," what he calls the "equivalent of organic farming for elder care," with his parents:

The remarkable character of aging is the way it draws each of us towards the same inevitability, the same anonymity, the same identical end. Everyone on the planet will experience it in one form or another, as one of the few rituals we share across our species. Except as tiny people with worries and chores, obligations and hopes, we are painfully ill-equipped to reconcile the distance between the personal and the universal. We perceive our own outline in the facts and empirical evidence, and imagine that we can make things different for our parents or ourselves. Mostly we are wrong. Incontrovertibly and terrifyingly wrong.

So we scramble to control whatever we can, in whatever infinitesimally small measure is possible. The last place you ever live is not really a place. It’s a compromise. It’s a wheelchair or a cane, an argument, a difficult decision, a humiliation to be ignored. It’s a cleaving to the parts that were, and a progressive resignation to the parts that are no longer.