Shedding Light on Old Fears

Last night I again suffered a bout of fear over growing old alone. I haven’t had such feelings for a long time, partly because I have been living alone and am getting used to it, but mostly because I’ve been keeping my mind away from the inevitable decrepitude of old age, and away from thoughts of being that old lady whose house is falling down around her because she doesn’t have the funds to shore the thing up.

For now, the decrepitude is advancing very slowly, just a matter of knees that don’t bend as well as they did, not being able to walk as far as I once did, and not being able to easily climb up steep stairs without dragging myself along. But bodies do tend to break down, and one day . . .

Yeah, better not think of that day.

It’s odd, though, that the fear last night was of growing old alone rather than the fear of being broke because of all the extra expenses I didn’t expect when I bought this place, such as having to build a new garage. The old one might have lasted for years, maybe even the rest of my life (or the rest of my car’s life) but even though it seemed solid and well built, the shed-like garage had been built on shaky ground. (Probably above an old septic system, which, combined with a high-water table, made the area rather damp.)

The other things that I have had done to the house and property, such as putting in a new foundation for the enclosed porch and replacing the old porch floor, removing diseased trees, and putting up a fence, didn’t really change things that much. It just felt as if I were cleaning up the place.

But a garage is a whole other matter. Erecting a building from scratch seems so much like growing deep roots, as if I were no longer just playing house, but living here for real.

I realize I’ve been here for almost a year, setting down tender and tentative new roots, but building a garage seems like the beginning of a massive root system. Makes settling down — and settling down alone — even more real than it had been. (Besides, all the talk of security that came with planning the garage, such as lights and locks and security cameras, as well as having to be aware of the seedy characters that walk the alley, is enough to feed anyone’s fears of being old and alone.)

Luckily, I’ve made friends, and luckily, the contractor is aware of and considerate of my need to fix things now to make my old age easier, but fears aren’t logical. Or maybe they are logical, and I do have something to fear.

But I won’t — can’t — let myself be afraid.

Today is a new day, and though the sun isn’t shining and the temperature rather cool, it’s bright enough to shed light on that old fear and make it scurry from sight.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

14 Responses to “Shedding Light on Old Fears”

  1. Judy Galyon Says:

    I understand your fear of aging. I think we all have it at some or another. I know I do. You are strong & resilient! Just look at the things you’ve been thru, like your falls. If you are feeling more achy, try a good chiropractor ( if you have one not to far away). We went to ours this morning & he really does help with things. If not that, then a senior exercise/yoga class. If I ever get the guts, I will look it up on the internet. Basic stretching can help. My body is wearing down. How goes your dinner murder show?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m not really achy unless I do too much, but if I need one, there is a chiropractor just a few blocks away. I’m trying to get back into my stretching/exercise/dancing routine, but so far, I don’t have the motivation, though I did a short dance class via youtube today. My murder mystery is written. We still have to make final preparations in the next couple of weeks.

  2. bevwowak Says:

    I’ve been feeling that too. Wake up panicked in the middle of the night.

  3. Royann Behrmann Says:

    We all have the same fears. Whenever they hit me I get real busy and do something for someone else. I don’t know why helping someone with less whether it be knowledge or strength helps, I just know it seems to carry my blues away and I know I will be fine.

  4. Sam Sattler Says:

    I tend to believe that fears are NOT logical at all. And I sure hope that I’m right.

    As to the body breaking down, I’m finding that it’s not a linear process, at least in my case. I’ve had a few lows that seemed to be of the permanent kind, but I can say that my knees and other assorted odds and ends probably feel a little more solid today than they did three or four years ago. I realize they won’t stay that way, but I’m less likely to panic the next time I enter one of those physical valleys that turn up every so often.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I think you’re right about the body breaking down not being a linear process. I hope you are, anyway. I try to motivate myself to exercise and eat healthily in the hopes that aches and stiffness can be reversed for a while, or at least to maintain the plateaus a bit longer.

  5. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    Was there a house inspector involved when you were looking at your new place? If so, there may be some reimbursement available if the inspector’s report didn’t note potential problems with the garage.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yes, there was an inspection, though I don’t remember if they inspected the garage since only the listing realtor called it a garage. Everyone else called it a shed. (From what I can tell, no one has actually used it for a garage in at least a decade, maybe more.) One of the people who inspected the place is the one who eventually found the problem, but he didn’t find it until he removed the garage.

  6. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    We expect to see the transformation from shed to garage when the new structure is ready for your car!

  7. SheilaDeeth Says:

    I guess fears either hold us back or push us on. Sounds like yours are pushing you successfully forwards, and I’m sure the new garage will be great.

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