Death is always the same, but each man dies in his own way. For J. T. Malone it began in such a simple ordinary way that for a time he confused the end of life with the beginning of a new season. The winter of his fortieth year was an unusually cold one for the Southern town — with icy, pastel days and radiant nights. The spring came violently in middle March in that year of 1953, and Malone was lazy and peaked during those days of early blossoms and windy skies. He was a pharmacist and, diagnosing spring fever, he prescribed for himself a liver and iron tonic. Although he tired easily, he kept to his usual routine: He walked to work and his pharmacy was one of the first businesses open on the main street and he closed the store at six. He had dinner at the restaurant downtown and supper at home with his family. But his appetite was finicky and he lost weight steadily. When he changed from his winter suit to a light spring suit, the trousers hung in folds on his tall, wasted frame. His temples were shrunken so that the veins pulsed visibly when he chewed or swallowed and his Adam’s apple struggled in his thin neck. But Malone saw no reason for alarm: His spring fever was unusually severe and he added to his tonic the old-fashioned course of sulphur and molasses — for when all was said and done the old remedies were the best. The thought must have solaced him for soon he felt a little better and started his annual spring garden. Then one day as he was compounding a prescription he swayed and fainted. He visited the doctor after this and there followed some tests at the City Hospital. Still he was not much worried; he had spring fever and the weakness of that complaint, and on a warm day he had fainted — a common, even natural thing. Malone had never considered his own death except in some twilight, unreckoned future, or in terms of life insurance. He was an ordinary, simple man and his own death was a phenomenon.
May 6, 2011
bibliotherapy (as my wife calls it)
I find much solace in the work of the masters of literature. They knew and understood the human condition as few can. The medical fields of psychology and psychiatry could learn much from them. From the author who penned the title of my blog, Carson McCullers starts out the book Clock without Hands with this haunting one line. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to finish the book.