As with most of us (from age 16 to 106), driving is a huge piece of our independence. Try to consider what you would do without your car and the ability to drive it wherever you need or want to go.
And now consider what it is like when you live out in West Cupcake, no public transportation and driving is a necessity. Add to that … you’ve had a brain aneurysm and your husband has had a stroke.
When Mom and Dad finally returned home to New Hartford (almost a year after said aneurysm and stroke) could they hop in the car to visit his sisters or hers? No. Could they go to the store for milk and bread? No. Could they cruise the Italian section of Hartford for cannolis and lemon ice? No. At this point, neither was even able to drive down the long driveway to retrieve the mail.
I’ve never been sure when she began to do so, but Mom decided even though she was still in the infancy of her healing, suffered from double vision and obvious impaired judgment – she could still drive. With so much else going on at the time, we hadn’t given any thought to selling their car. It sat unused in the driveway … or so we thought.
We were completely unaware she was driving. My sister-in-law may have known, but chose to look the other way rather than confront her. We only found out when one day she somehow convinced our father to go out with her. He never even let her drive when she could see clearly with both eyes. He must have been bored out of his mind!!
They ‘needed’ to go to the store (on a long and winding country road). It appears she was attempting to help him transfer from his wheelchair to the passenger seat of the car when he missed the seat and landed hard on his butt in the driveway. She was unable to help him back up.
As I sit here now, I’m shaking my head and laughing to think how that one-sided conversation must have sounded (Dad could not speak due to his stroke, except for the word, “Doe”).
Mom – C’mon Carl, get your ass up off that driveway!
Dad – Doe!
Mom – C’mon … We have to get back inside before someone sees us!
Dad – Doe!!!
Mom – We are so in the shit here!
I even hear God laughing.
When we confronted her, Mom said, “I only drive to the store. It’s not like I get on the highway or anything.”
Well gee, that made us feel so much better. Yes, the store was a short distance from their home … on a winding back country road, rife with deer and kids on bikes. Milk being a critical item. Doe!
Thanks to Becky – If you live in the Tolland, CT area, the Tolland Senior Center has on-going driving evaluation screening. Many have taken advantage of it and have made appropriate changes. Anyone out there facing these difficult decisions should do their own research or call the senior center for more information: 860.870.3730.