Time, bad habits and general wear and tear kick in and he has hypertension, the onset of Type 2 diabetes (he always was a bit of a pig), and emphysema from all those years smoking. Then his spouse kicks the bucket and now he’s really going downhill.
Grief and loneliness sap his will. He spends all his time in bed and neglects himself. His daughter visits once a month but she’s got problems of her own – that bloody useless husband of hers has lost his job. (His other kids fucked off to greener pastures years ago.)
Happy pills join the other medication he’s taking and a shrink gives him a pep talk four times a year but when he falls and breaks an arm, it’s time to move into assisted Living.
Assisted Living is a two-roomed unit in the main complex which also holds the Frail Care Centre. Over the years he goes through the three levels of Care – low, medium and high. At first he walks to the dining room assisted by a walking stick, then a trusty three-wheeled walking frame. Most of the day is spent dozing in front of the TV or shuffling up and down the windowless corridor past closed doors behind which other old toppies sit staring at their TVs. The place smells of cooked cabbage. And piss. He becomes incontinent and must endure the indignity of wearing nappies. Talk about second childhood!
Ballooning obesity is attributed to the side effects of psychiatric drugs which prevent him from committing suicide but leave him an apathetic zombie. Again he falls and ends up in hospital, then into Frail Care.
Down to one room. A hospital bed with cot sides. He’s washed and showered and dressed. They even clean his dentures. They shout at him (politely) and repeat everything because his hearing aid doesn’t work. By now he’s gaga anyway. He loses all that weight he put on and is reduced to a skeleton draped in a sack of wrinkled hide. It’s time to go. They find him staring at the ceiling, cold to the touch like a frog. His final exit involves a trolley ride down the passage to the back door and into a limo waiting to take him to the funeral parlour.
After the memorial service, everyone’s relieved and quietly agree that it would have been better for all concerned if he had popped off years ago.
Old age is rough. Especially those last ten years. But me and a couple of my buddies have come up with an alternative. We were discussing the state of the world and the human condition and that kind of shit.
“Seven billion and counting,” Cupcake said.
“Too many humans,” the other guy said. “Just too fucking many.”
I agreed and said the current economic model was based on infinite growth. Galloping consumption driven by an ever-growing population.
“How are you going to discourage consumption and shrink the population? Who’s going to look after all the old toppies?”
“Fuck the old toppies,” the other guy said.
“Euthanasia,” Cupcake said.
“You sound like a fucking Nazi,” I said.
“I have an idea,” Cupcake said with a manic look in his eyes. “A way to get rid of all the useless old parasites. You put them on a daily dose of Smarties. Say three a day. The machine that dispenses them is programmed to include lethal Smarties. With cyanide. They look identical to the regular ones so nobody is directly responsible.”
“It would be like Russian roulette every day,” I said.
“Only nobody would know they’re playing it,” said Cupcake. “Staff and patients would be kept in the dark about the program. Think of all that suffering prevented.”
Cupcake looked smug as if he was a modern day messiah.
“This is genius stuff,” said the other guy. “Not only will millions of old people be spared the pain and humiliation of a long, slow goodbye, but us young people won’t have to waste our time, money and energy looking after them.”
“But,” I said, deciding to set a cat amongst the pigeons, “who are we to question God’s design for us?”
This resulted in much mirth and we were still chuckling as we went our separate ways.