A Difficult Conversation
So, as long as we're on the subject of difficult moments between parent and child, let's segue to one of the most troublesome of all: the conversation about giving up the keys to the Buick. Too often, parents just don't or won't see the writing on that billboard - maybe there should be a guy in the road holding a big yellow "STOP" sign. The problem might be something ocular like glaucoma or macular degeneration, or something cranial like creeping dementia, and when it's combined with something attitudinal like pig-headedness, it can make for an ugly experience for everyone.
Here's the thing, though. Most children have no reason to get the keys away from their parents until there's good cause for them to take over some of the driving. Like, they hit the gas instead of the brake outside the supermarket and total the Buick; they get lost on the trip they've made dozens of times to the Wellness Center; or they can't find the keys at all until they show up in the refrigerator. Let's leave out the tragedy of a bad accident that kills someone, but we've all seen that happen several times in our own area - and is that really what we want our parents to risk before admitting they've driven far enough? That's sort of the nuclear option, but use it if all else fails.
Look, no one wants to recognize another milepost of his mortality, but there are lots of folks these days who never drive in the first place, and I doubt they'd say their lives are incomplete. And think about Stephen Hawking, for example. He had to give up driving a car long before most of us - and we should all lead such meaningless and unproductive lives. So why not make the process easier on everyone.
My 91 year-old mother did. She's no more perfect than the rest of us, but she volunteered the keys before my brother and I ever sweated over having that conversation. Now she just has the rest of us take over the driving whenever we visit, and she's lined up a cadre of other drivers for when we're not around. Apparently, she's still smart enough to stay a step ahead of her kids!
Posted 09/05/2014 Misc.