More on driving…

When we look back at rites of passage, a stand out is the day we we are handed our driver’s license.  The sense of independence and freedom is overwhelming!  Many of us drive off, pick up a friend and have our first fender bender.  Or maybe not!

On the back end of passages is the day our driver’s license is taken away.  Some people continue to drive well, well into their senior years, but many experience problems with eyesight, reflexes, concentration.  Some simply forget where they are going.  And no one wants to relinquish this piece of autonomy, even when it is time – .

On the other side, it is agonizing to be the person who ‘suggests’ it is time to stop driving.  We’ve all read stories though and no one wants to wait until it is too late.  We often cross our fingers and say prayers, but there comes the day.

From the book – As with most families, it was hard to have the “to drive or not to drive” conversation.  I receive emails about this often and there is no easy answer.  Each situation is different, yet the same.  As well, Mom and Dad were already isolated.  And though we knew it had to happen, it was going to be painful to take away this integral piece of their independence.

Here was our mom, a woman who’d been through considerable personal trauma, physically and emotionally.  Her husband of fifty years had been through worse.  She’d lost more in six months than most of us will lose in our lifetime.  She should not be driving and yet, we felt like monsters.

She kept insisting “it’s only to the store” and couldn’t understand why we were worried about it.  The aneurysm had left her with double vision and it was impossible to understand how she could possibly drive anyway.  “How do you know which approaching car is the ‘real’ car or which line in the road you shouldn’t cross over?”  She told me when she closed one eye, the double vision went away.  Oh, good…

Cowards that we were, we decided rather than be the bad guys ourselves, we’d let Motor Vehicles tell her she couldn’t drive.  Her license renewal was coming up.  We took the keys and told her if she could pass a driving test, she could drive.  Somehow before this happened, she convinced our brother Joey to take her to Motor Vehicles.  DMV simply allowed her to renew.  They did not request a written test, nor did they request an eye exam.  They asked no questions.  “Next!”

“Mom, what if you hurt someone?” 

She seemed unfazed that she might crash herself into a tree, but if she considered hurting someone else, we thought it might be a persuasive argument.  Her eyes simply glazed over.  We went round and round this way.  Ultimately, it didn’t matter how right we were; we still felt like ogres.

We knew the car had to disappear or she would continue to use it, license or not.  Hurt and quite angry with us, she chose not to sell it and instead, gave the car to the son who took her to renew her license, “Let Joey have it.  He’s a good son.”

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. On Monday evening, October 29, 2012 there will be a program entitled “We Need To Talk” (not sure who it is sponsored by, but it might be AARP). It’s open to the public – no need to sign up – and it’s free. Anyone out there facing the difficult decisions written about here, should attend. Location – 674 Tolland Stage Rd, Tolland, CT. Call the senior center for more information: 860.870.3730.


About hereisakiss

Daughter Writer Art's Educator
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One Response to More on driving…

  1. hereisakiss says:

    A comment from my friend, Jane –
    Dear Elizabeth, I will definitely pass this on.It was the thought that my accident might very well have involved a person or a car full of kids and not a telephone pole that convinced me I should not replace the car. A lot of people thought me nuts! I haven’t driven for three years now, and while there are occasions when I’d like to be able to go somewhere on the spur of the moment, there are no occasions when I wish I were actually driving—if that makes sense!
    I have a friend whose son took away her car a couple of years ago. He tried and tried to persuade her to quit—she hadn’t been able to feel her feet for ages, due to diabetes. She insisted she only drove very slowly on back roads. I kept telling her I was driving very slowly on a back road when I totaled the car. She was furious for ages, but now says she guesses she is about ready to stop driving!
    The community where I live is full of people who could no more step on the brake if something ran in front of them than fly, but they simply can’t imagine having any responsibility for the lives of innocent bystanders. Sorry! You got me started on a favorite topic! Much love, Jane

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