Saturday, January 24, 2009


Thursday I was forced to reflect on and face my #1 fear. Growing up I only ever experienced one fear. Unlike most children (and adults for that matter), I never feared dogs or spiders or snakes or the dark. At the time I thought it such an irrational fear that I would try to convince myself that I was overreacting but now I realize it was a much more valid fear than my grown-up fear.

When I was about 5 years old my paternal grandfather became very ill. A combination of a heart attack and stroke left him partially paralyzed on his left side and unable to care for himself. As I understand the story, he died and then was revived. His care fell to my grandmother. This was a shocking change. Even now I have vivid memories of my grandparents from that time. I spent a great deal of my early childhood with them. My favorite memory is of riding the large blue tractor with my grandfather and singing as dusk turned to night. He was such a vibrant man who commanded attention and his illness severely diminished his light. Not long after he returned home from the hospital my grandmother was diagnosed with and died from cancer.

My grandfather's care fell to my father and his 3 sisters. I will never understand why they did not turn his care over to a resident facility but they took on the responsibility of medications and meals going through nurse after nurse. Each sibling was assigned a night the rotation to provide dinner and company. My brother and I were there often and upon arrival my dad would sit down to count pills and we were sent to wake up Papa. I was terrified that when we went to wake him up that we would find he had died in his sleep. Before turning the corner I would talk myself into pushing my fear down deep.

February brings the 10th anniversary of his passing and I can't help but think about the impact he had on our lives. That day my childhood fear slipped away, fortunately never having been realized. It was, however, replaced with a different fear.

I am petrified, absolutely terrified that something is going to happen to my teeth. For cleanings and check-ups I have no problem visiting the dentist. In fact she is a very important person in my mind because she helps keep my teeth safe. But Thursday morning she went into my mouth with the sole purpose of decreasing the number of teeth in permanent residence and this had me a little on the anxious side (okay, a lot on the anxious side). All is well but right at the forefront are the horrible images of all the ways my teeth could be damaged. These images will fade as the gaping holes in my gums heal but this fear, I fear, is here to stay.


Cat said...

So - how do you feel about having faced your fear? Did it help?

Beth said...

Happy I made it through but still apprehensive about my teeth. I don't think it is a fear that will ever subside.