Our theme this month is "What Scares You?". I could write about ghosts or vampires or demons, but I'm not afraid of monsters. I understand the human fascination with them, but I don't happen to share it. I don't read or write horror; I don't even read much paranormal romance. Intellectually, I can understand the vicarious thrill of being frightened when deep down you know you're safe, but it's never resonated with me on an emotional level. I tend not to be afraid of external things or people. My fears are usually more personal.
Tomorrow is my first fifty-ninth birthday. I may have more--I'll have to see how this year goes. The Big 6-0 is far more daunting than any birthday I've yet faced, including the dreaded thirtieth. I'm in excellent health and working hard to stay that way, but there's no telling how long that good health will last. Since I spent my working life in the insurance business, I know the difference between morbidity (poor health) and mortality. Mortality I can accept, but morbidity is another matter.
In February, I lost my father after a fifteen-year battle with Parkinson's Disease. We watched him decline, slowly and steadily, despite his ferocious will to live and live well. His struggle forced me to acknowledge one of my greatest fears--becoming frail and physically dependent. I never want my child to have to see me unable to care for my own most basic needs. Unfortunately, that's the future facing many of us unless advances in medicine allow quality of life to catch up to quantity.
And worse than physical decline is mental decline. Three of my grandparents lived into their nineties. My beloved maternal grandmother lived to be ninety-eight. Both grandmothers suffered from dementia during the last years of their lives, and that is my biggest fear. Again, my fear is not for myself but for my daughter. We are extremely close, and it breaks my heart to think of putting her through that ordeal. I hope progress can be made on treatment, or even prevention, of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia during the next thirty years, but I'm not counting on it. In the meantime, I plan to make every day the best I can and be grateful for every blessing.