I wrote Whatcha Drivin’? last fall about taking the car from my, now 82 year old, mother.
She’s still not happy about it.
It’s such a strange predicament to be in. My mother was always a “take charge” person. She worked outside the home while most of my friends’ moms stayed home. I’m only mentioning that because it’s part of what makes this so uncomfortable for me. It’s such a strange turn of events.
Her forgetfulness continues to increase.
Her balance is shot.
Her ability to process what’s being said is…sketchy.
But at every opportunity, my mom asks me when I’m going to let her drive again. She wants to pick up her friend and drive to Mass. She wants to go to the grocery store, or Walgreens, or out to grab a hamburger. Truthfully, it would be SO much easier if I just let her. And the odds are, she’d be ok. For a little while. We’ve all seen some terrible older drivers. Yet, there they are, motoring along side us on the roads. Until they plow through the pedestrians at the local farmer’s market. ::sigh::
In all of my blogging this past Spring, I forgot to mention that at one point, Mom took matters into her own hands. I was having a particularly frustrating day. Her conversations seemed to be on a loop, and I was telling her for the umpteenth time that she wasn’t going to drive. I told her that I would come get her and take her. But I’m sure she could hear the exasperation in my voice. It wasn’t that it irritated me to take her anywhere. It was more that she required the same conversation to happen 3-4 times in the same hour.
A couple of days went by and I didn’t hear anything from her. This wasn’t typical. So I called her:
“I should tell you something,” she said very matter-of-factly. “And you’re not going to like it.”
“Martha took me to Carmax and I bought another car. Because you must just want my car.”
“Yes. You were not nice to me and I just got mad and decided to do it myself.”
“What do you mean I wasn’t nice? I’ve spent at least 4 hours with you every day for the past week!”
“I cannot believe you did this.”
“I did. It’s an older Toyota Camry. I like it. It’s silver. It has a lot of miles but it was only $5000.”
I was shocked, really. Granted, she was being encouraged by her friend, Martha. The two of them talk a lot about how “These kids think they know everything.” Even when we are trying to listen and help all the time.
So I took the Honda back over to her and told her to keep them both. I was frustrated. So both cars sat in her parking lot. Most of the time, she didn’t drive – just to Mass, and to Walgreens and HEB. A few days went by. and we talked more calmly about it. She agreed that much of it had to do with pride. People in her apartment complex frequently asked her where her car was. It must be so hard to watch your children take away your independence, piece by piece.
Of course, true to form, she added, “You know it’s really all your own fault. I was mad that you spoke harshly to me and I wanted to show you that I could too go out and get whatever I wanted.”
Glad we got that settled: My fault.
Within a couple of weeks, she got sick while Ron was out of town. I needed her car to get groceries for her. From that point on, I just didn’t give it back. She had a couple more small falls in the apartment and then started to see her own foggy moments. I’ve pointed out to her that the brain’s ability to process is NECESSARY when you drive, and I think she’s seeing that. Of course, then she forgets and we start over.
She’s asking less frequently, probably because I’m very conscious about how I word things. I refer to it as HER car. I don’t try to get her to AGREE to the decision about driving – something I was always wanting. I had to just let that go. I gently say, “OK, well, I’ll come get you and we’ll go do that.”
Of course, some parts of a personality stay strong. Like today, when I was going to be out all day, I asked her if she needed anything before I left the house. Her response?
“Nothing really… except my car.”
“Of course. See you tomorrow, Mom!”