Giving Up Independence!
Perhaps the hardest part of growing older is losing or giving up independence. Likely the chiefest among the items on the list is the car. Driving has represented “independence” to us for the largest part of our lives. From the day we got our license, of course some drove before, to the current day, access to and the ability to drive to and fro, to leave when we want and arrive whenever we happen to, has represented our freedom. Freedom is not something we easily are deprived of.
That’s an interesting thought, it would seem, based on participation in the activity, our freedom to drive an automobile is more precious than our freedom to vote! Maybe we need to think about that.
Of course, this commentary will likely mean virtually nothing to the younger set, but to an octogenarian it may occupy some serious thought.
I recall my aunt still driving at over age 100. I was shocked, but she lived in the small Oklahoma town where I was born. I witnessed this at a funeral for another aunt who was indeed precious. As the service ended and the church provided meal was consumed, I noticed my aunt leaving. Of course, at her age she was using a cane and I headed toward the door to open it for her. I arrived prior to her and noticed several family members just standing close by and watching. Then one yelled at me, no don’t open it, she’ll hit you with her cane! I stopped and turned toward the alarmist.
Years and often decades pass between visits to my home town, so knowledge of the habits of the aging family is virtually non-existent. But to the younger ones living there, self-preservation is on point. I turned again to see my ancient aunt push open the door, quite aptly and stroll with cane to her car which was parked across the street. She got in, started the car, backed out, drove to the corner, stopped at the sign and headed home. She passed at 108 and blessed many children.
There are always two sides to the coin however, and Mom was the other side. Proficient in golf and business administration, dancing, oil painting, cooking, gardening, definitely looks, shopping and attire, and anything else she decided to undertake, Mom’s driving (in later years) became a bit suspect. As the resident and eldest son, it befell me, which was an honor, to care for her in many ways. One of those being assessment of her driving skills.
Now in fairness to Mom, she had moved from a mid-sized eastern New Mexico town to San Antonio so she would be close to my family. We shared many great times together then came the day of analysis.
Now I was pretty confident growing up and not much if anything scared me. But the very thought of telling my mother it was time to surrender the keys, sent chills up my back. However, a mans got to do what a mans got to do. So, I went over to her house to take her to the grocery store and said “you drive.” Now I hedged my task by saying, “we’ll take your car.” (it was more of a tank than mine)
Off we went down the road, “Mom – you might want to drive a little closer in the lane…..and oh by the way, thank those ladies that stopped so you could run the red light.” Mom asked if I want to drive the rest of the way. I responded NO, I think I’ll just pray ‘til we land, then I’ll drive back.
Mother gave up her keys that day. It was her choice not mine. She knew it was time, and of course it meant I would be around much more. For her and me, our times together were joyful. She liked to see the glass half full instead of half empty and greeted every day with a smile on her face. She passed at 88+, and is missed every day.
In closing, I’ll just add, if you are the person to take the keys, remember what it means to the older person. If you are the older person, don’t let the keys get in the way of your life or the lives of others. It’s not who you are.