Fears change as one grows older

Evelyn Richardson Here and There

August 8, 2014

Fears we have are often very real and can be traumatizing.

My mother’s younger sister was afraid of anything with feathers. As children will do, if my mother and her friends wanted to play without little sister, they would go upstairs and lay a feather on the stairs behind them so she would not follow.

Being afraid of the dark is a common childhood fear. I never feared monsters under the bed, but going down the path to close the door of the hen house after dark was the scariest run that I could make. I imagined all sorts of creatures with teeth and claws swooping down on my head from the peach tree limbs above.

Snakes that surprised me always caused a shout and a jump back, but I was not so afraid that I couldn’t take care of them with a hoe.

Storms were a different matter. If I saw a cloud forming in the west, my heart beat faster. I knew that even my parents might not be able to save us from a violent storm. I watched the elements of wind and lightning interact, each minute seeming to be an eternity. Only when gentle rain began falling on the tin roof did I feel assured that all was well.

In the teen years, our fears migrated to things like the possibility that the boyfriend of the moment would sit with someone else, or that I would not pass the test not yet handed out by the teacher and end my school year.

When the time of family responsibilities came, our child’s stomach pain or fever in the night triggered the fear of serious illness. When our older children did not return home at the time expected, our fears generated every scenario possible as we listened for the car in the driveway.

At this stage of my life, my fears have changed again. I fear forgetting something important that I should do, such as pay the water bill or turn off the stove unit under the boiling pot at the proper time.

I fear that a product I’ve used all of my life will disappear from the market shelves and I won’t find a workable replacement.

I fear that telephone directories will become obsolete and I won’t be able to look up a name I’m having trouble bringing to mind or get an address that I need.

I fear that any moment one or more of the electronic devices that I’ve barely learned to use will play out or need to be “upgraded.” Then I’ll have to buy a new version, not knowing what I should get, fearing all the while that I won’t be able to learn how to use it when I get it home.