The Tragedy of Nobody


In chapter 3 of Francine Prose‘s book Reading Like a Writer, she quotes a passage from American Pastoral by Philip Roth about Seymour Levov, a rich Swede living the American dream.

“Who is set up for the impossible that is going to happen? Who is set up for the tragedy and the incomprehensibility of suffering? Nobody. The tragedy of the man not set up for tragedy-that is every man’s tragedy.”

My time spent in nursing homes begs different answers to these questions. All of those I observe would rather be somewhere else. All of those I observe never expected to be in a nursing home. I, at least, have gotten over the second “rather be.” I am convinced I will be, but this lacks any power “to set me up for the impossible.”

I have heard doctor’s echo my thoughts that maybe, just maybe, one day being present as a care giver, will afford us the insights we need to accept the impossible.  So far, it has not.

Only one thing kept the title of today’s post from being “is” rather than “of.” Recognizing this one thing is like I imagine discovering a  long extinct species.  This one thing is more rule than exception. This one thing is made up of many. It is the many who have adjusted to their circumstance. I have watched them with awe and amazement.

I don’t think they set themselves up for the impossible. Each took it on the chin, but got up. They are moving on, if only to the bathroom, with assistance.

17 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Nobody

  1. Carole Webber November 24, 2013 / 9:42 am

    Life does offer us some unexpected challenges. A nursing home would be the last and unwanted hurdle
    My friend and I are moving on, so far no assistance to the bathroom

    • fictionfitz November 24, 2013 / 1:19 pm

      A good thing indeed.

  2. Kim13 November 24, 2013 / 11:57 am

    I do believe if/when the time comes for me…I also will have nobody. So, the plan is to take my arthritic self out as far as possible on my boogie board, and just ride waves until they “take” me…or better yet, “borrow” a really fast car, and go for the ride of my life…either way, I will never be in a nursing home…a cave hiding? Maybe. I’ve worked in nursing homes, and helped care for hospice patients in home…I am going out the way I choose.

    • fictionfitz November 24, 2013 / 1:26 pm

      It is then I shall take up parachuting. Even as I say that, I laugh, kind of, then think which takes more guts, going out with what comes our way, or taking the controls. Then I think that isn’t the point, so what is? Living with quality I submit as the start..

      • Kim13 November 24, 2013 / 4:09 pm

        Living with quality…a concept I can visualize but have yet to achieve…I think I’m “doing it wrong” lol

      • fictionfitz November 24, 2013 / 5:16 pm

        And I thought seventh grade was tough.

      • Kim13 November 24, 2013 / 9:11 pm

        Hahaha…so did I. Oh, how little we knew was coming.

  3. Carole Webber November 24, 2013 / 1:49 pm

    I cannot see the parachute as the answer, better the boogie board.

    • fictionfitz November 24, 2013 / 1:55 pm

      Why, the boogie board quicker?

  4. Carole Webber November 24, 2013 / 2:00 pm

    I like the ocean, especially in the warm waters of Hawaii and I do not like heights.

    • fictionfitz November 24, 2013 / 2:02 pm

      I am warming up to it. Sharks?

  5. Carole Webber November 24, 2013 / 2:07 pm

    I think we would scare them. If not we will help feed the species and contribute to the food chain.
    Some things have to hurt a little, pain is a reality.

  6. writesalone November 24, 2013 / 3:49 pm

    Nursing Homes are a window into our futures that many of us don’t want to look through. It doesn’t matter what we do or how we live, eventually we all weaken and die, and who wants to be reminded of that. I too admire people who adjust their lives to seemingly impossible circumstances and keep on finding meaning in their diminishing lives.

    • fictionfitz November 24, 2013 / 5:14 pm

      They are simply amazing. Your words well said.

  7. New Hampshire Garden Solutions November 24, 2013 / 6:41 pm

    i worked in the dining room as a server in a nusing home in Florida once a long time ago and the people were the nicest you could hope to meet. I became friends with many of them even though there was quite an age difference,

    • fictionfitz November 24, 2013 / 8:36 pm

      Must be universal.

Comments are closed.