I took more than seven years of Latin in the distant past. I loved the structure of the language and the stories. One of my favorites was the Aeneid.
Virgil’s Aeneid begins:
arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris Italiam fato profugus Laviniaque venit litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto vi superum, saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram, multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem inferretque deos Latio; genus unde Albanique patres atque altae moenia Romae. Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso quidve dolens regina deum tot volvere insignem pietate virum, tot adire labores impulerit. tantaene animis caelestibus irae?
I found an excellent translation here.
I sing of arms and the man, he who, exiled by fate, first came from the coast of Troy to Italy, and to Lavinian shores – hurled about endlessly by land and sea, by the will of the gods, by cruel Juno’s remorseless anger, long suffering also in war, until he founded a city and brought his gods to Latium. Muse, tell me the cause: how was she offended in her divinity, how was she grieved, the Queen of Heaven, to drive a man, noted for virtue, to endure such dangers, to face so many trials? Can there be such anger in the minds of the gods?
Back when I was in high school reading the Aeneid for the first time we translated “fato profugus” as “fate’s fugitive.” As someone who strongly embraces a philosophy of self-determination and personal responsibility, I loved the idea of running away from and escaping one’s fate. Unfortunately we cannot run from aging.
My grandmother, Nana, with whom I lived between ages 4 and 11, is losing her battle with time. She is 88 years old. Until 2 years ago she was still working multiple jobs playing piano and organ for churches, funeral homes and private lessons. I hope that I will be as productive. Two years ago, macular degeneration caused her to lose her vision, her independence (no more driving), and her livelihood since she could not read the music anymore. It’s been pretty much down hill since then. Her mind is slowly losing focus.
My mother recently shared the following examples: A is due at 6:30 to give Nana a shower. At three o’clock Nana took off all her clothes to get ready for her shower. So I guess that we know that she no longer has any concept of time. Last night S called me. Nana answered the phone. S asked her how she was feeling and talked to her for a few minutes. When Nana handed me the phone, she said “Here’s K.” Today she told me that A (note: A is her daughter) was her nurse and wanted to know why she did not stay here longer. The confusion seems to get worse each day.
Her body is also failing. A few weeks ago, my Nana developed a liver cyst which caused her abdominal pain. The doctors drained and cauterized the cyst and sent her home. Unfortunately, she did not remain home long. I received the following tidbits in various email updates that have been coming 2 or 3 times a day over the last few weeks:
Nana is back in the hospital. They did a CT with contrast last night and the report said that she had gallstones, a thick walled cyst and potentially abscessed small bowel. The immediate concern was that the incision site where they had drained the cyst before had become infected. They called in a surgeon to the ER and he drained the wound and put in a wick. Nana is more comfortable and has been admitted. They also put her on a broad spectrum IV antibiotic. The doctors (surgeon, infectious disease and PCP) don’t believe Nana is a good candidate for liver surgery. They told A that if the surgery doesn’t kill her that the rest of her organs would shut down shortly after surgery. Nana’s veins are shot. They have put in a PIC line. They are talking about sending Nana home with the PIC line and the drain in. She will need antibiotics for 3-4 weeks.
It is difficult knowing how much my Nana is suffering at this time. I cannot imagine how hard it is for those who are seeing her each day in this decline. She is scared being in a strange place. She does not regularly recognize her family’s faces or voices any more. I know how this story ends but not when. Atropos is coming. It is impossible to elude fate forever. I hate this.