Life span and health span are two very different things

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It’s all about health span, not life span, writes the great Richard Ford in his latest novel – and final outing with the iconic Frank Bascombe – called Be Mine.

The context is that Frank, his curmudgeonly character across four of the greatest books ever written, is now old and increasingly infirm while his son Paul is dying from a variation of motor neuron disease.

And they go on what turns out to be final road trip together to mend fences and establish happy memories in the hope it will sustain them through the dark days that lie ahead.

None of that ruins the story because it’s clear from the start, and if you’ve not read Ford’s Bascombe books – it was supposed to be a trilogy that began with the Sportswriter and followed on with Independence Day and the Lay of the Land – then get your hands on them and revel in their humour and beauty.

This time, the shadow of illness and impending death hangs over father and son – although because Ford has perfect comedic timing in his observations, it’s not a sad book – and it causes the Bascombes to reflect as they make their road trip to Mount Rushmore.

But the health span versus life span discussion is relevant in any context; the quantity of life as against the quality of life, and whether it reaches a point where going on is largely futile.

That’s an easy observation for a younger generation to make because they’re still at a stage where they either don’t really contemplate their own departure or they actually believe they’re immortal.

It’s like the Who, in My Generation, when they earnestly hoped they’d die before they got old. Except that now those of the band who’ve made it this far are actually old, and presumably they’re not so bolshy about an early check-out time anymore.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up