Weak as a Kitten But Still Wanting to Drive

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My family has been dealing with my daddy’s illnesses for some time now. He’s been prone to kidney infections and the winter blahs for the past five winters. This year he’s really been down both mentally and physically. While he’s still sharp as a tack, he’s just downright blue and depressed over not being able to do what he likes to do.

You might have guessed it. One of his favorite things is getting in the car and driving down to the local Wally World or to a fast food restaurant for his and Mama’s favorite loaded-with-everything biscuit.

Karen’s dad on his graduation day

It’s funny. Before Daddy retired he never went to the store unless it was just to pick up some milk or bread. Mama did all the shopping. After he retired, he seemed to think of shopping as his little getaways. They know him by his first name at KFC! Of course it doesn’t hurt that he wears overalls and looks like a very old farmer, which is pretty normal in our rural town of Galt.

“Daddy, don’t give up,” I told him the other day. “Remember you get sick like this a lot during the winter. Just do your best to at least get in the wheelchair and paddle with your feet to the porch or kitchen.”

“If I could just get strong enough to drive to the grocery store,” he replied. “I would feel so much better if I could just do that.”

What Driving Means to Seniors

Driving is freedom. Remember how you felt when you first got your driver’s license? I remember getting into my little Opal Cadet and driving all the way to San Francisco! What an adventure.

Karen and her dad

Daddy grew up in the 40s and 50s on a farm. Every farm boy learned to drive a tractor when they were very young. Daddy did too. His parents didn’t have a lot of money but every few years they’d purchase a brand new car! I guess that shows how important cars were to them.

I know there comes a time when a senior should give up the keys. I’m also becoming acutely aware of how hard it might be on them. I’ve heard of seniors who had to quit driving and they literally went downhill very fast.

After that talk with Daddy, he’s made the effort to use the walker or wheelchair and take a little “stroll” to the kitchen and the front porch.

“It did make me feel better,” he said to me about his little strolls. “But I’m still just so weak!”

This morning I talked to both my parents. While talking to my Mama she told me of their plans for the day.

“Oh, we’re going after a while to WalMart,” she said. “Your Daddy says he thinks he can drive. You know how it is. Sometimes people think they can do something they’re really not able to. But if he isn’t able, I’m going to drive.”

To Drive or Not to Drive?

Now I’m sure that doesn’t sound too bad to you all. However, Mama hasn’t driven the car in probably a year or more. Oh, my!

For the past six months or so, I’ve been doing most of their shopping. I really don’t mind. I told Mama this morning I’d be happy to go for them.

“No, we’re going to go,” she said. “I’d go by myself but I can’t leave him that long.”

“You know I’d sit with him while you are gone,” I said. “But I’d be happy to go for you.”

“No,” she said. “We’re going. You have too much to do anyway.”

I’ve yet to come to the place where I will completely override my mama. I am getting close, just not there yet.

Have you gone through this with your beloved parents? I’d love to hear from you about your experiences. When did you know it was time to take the keys? How did it affect your older loved one? We’re in this together! Please share.

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