Today is my birthday. I’m turning 58. My mother died of a massive and unexpected heart attack at the age of 60. My greatest fear is dying the same way, but covered in spiders. I’m kidding about the spiders, although I do have terrible arachnophobia. I’m not joking about the heart attack fear.
My sensible self smacks me regularly when this fear manifests. My mother was a good woman, but she was overweight, smoked (and not just tobacco), played around with hallucinogens, never exercised, ate whatever she wanted to eat, and was a non-compliant diabetic who hated going to the doctor. I am overweight, but I’ve never smoked anything, I’ve never messed around with drugs, I exercise, I pay attention to what I eat, I’m not a diabetic, and I see my doctor annually.
So why does this fear haunt me? It would probably take several years of therapy to figure it out, but I think mostly, it’s because I see what wondrous things await in the rest of my life and I’m frightened of missing them. Sometimes, I can set it aside, knowing that today is what’s important and the future must take care of itself. I could get hit by a truck tomorrow and I’d be just as dead as I would be having a heart attack. Life doesn’t come with any guarantees. I know all the clichés and I try hard to apply them when appropriate.
This birthday, I’m doing something proactive about the heart attack fear–I’m going to have heart scan. Sister PJ, my friend Mary, and I are going together for a day of heart health checkups. I figure I’ll either find out my plaque ratio is fine for a woman my age or they’ll tell me I need to find a cardiologist. Either way, I’ll have someplace tangible to put the fear and I can be done with it. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life worrying that I’ll die like my mom, that I’ll miss the future. What a terrible way to live.
I love my life. I’m having a grand time. Lake life is glorious, my family and friends are always a blessing. I believe one day soon, I’ll be published–I certainly don’t want to miss that. Who knows, one day I could even be a grandma–what fun! So, onward…today is my birthday and I’m not afraid of the future–as rom com writer and my fellow Betty, Jenny Cruisie, says, nothin’ but good times ahead. Words to live by!