Mistaken Fear

We all make mistakes. Some are as simple as showing up at a friend’s for dinner on the wrong day, forgetting an important birthday, or missing a plane while sitting, watching it board and depart. All kinds of mistakes are made by people at all ages, but as you get older, mistakes seem to carry more significance. “Wow, Dad’s losing it. We were going to meet for coffee and he went to the wrong Starbucks.”

As we age, there is an overlay of concern when we get things wrong. “Am I losing it?” becomes the big question. It happened to me a few weeks ago and it was surprisingly scary.

I keep a busy calendar in my business and am used to booking and managing appointments, so it was no big deal to arrange for tickets to a Broadway show over the phone. When the tickets came, they were for the day after we were scheduled to be back home in Vermont. The wrong day.

When I called the ticket agency, they pointed out the no exchange or refund policy. After speaking to the manager, I got the process rolling for an exchange in spite of the policy, but the mistake really ate at me. “How could I have booked the tickets for the wrong day?”

My wife assured me she had heard the conversation and I repeatedly asked for the correct day. The confusion was on the other side. I had to keep correcting the ticket agent, who was getting the day wrong.

Still, that night I couldn’t let it go and barely slept. The questions just kept coming. Was I no longer reliable to book tickets? If I couldn’t do that, how could I schedule things in my business? Is this how it happens, one day you are sharp and the next one you’re standing in an elevator trying to remember what floor you were going to and why?

We all know people who are about our ages, some a little older, some a little younger, but wham, one day they start to seem a lot older in spite of the number of years. All of a sudden, they appear to be bumbling along, half-confused and sort of disconnected.

In the back of our minds, that’s the image. That’s the big fear. It happens to other people; it can happen to us. So we watch for it, secretly. Privately, we keep track and worry in silence.

It turned out I was able to exchange the tickets and we got to see the show as planned. That helped make me feel better, but not completely. For self-doubt causes a wound. It leaves an emotional scar. That means we have to fight back, move on, and keep putting ourselves out there.

Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident. Sometimes we even have to overcome ourselves.

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.