My mom will be 98 this year, spry as a forty-year old, mentally all of her marbles, plays bridge, is out to dinner with friends several times a week, and is thrilled the golf season is finally here so she can get out and play 18.
And she still drives. One of the reasons we were in Wilmington yesterday was that her license expires in November and she wanted to renew it now.
My sister and I have always been very liberal with mom in the sense that we know she has excellent sensibilities to know herself when it’s time to stop driving. We tell her all the time that she’d much rather stop on her own rather than us taking away the keys. She’s about the only one of her peers to still drive – up to the country club and over to the chiropractor, and across to the Concord Pike for grocery shopping. On occasion, she’ll drive up to Bala Cynwyd and tell us after the fact she has gone and come back.
Here’s the problem. While she can see what she knows, like driving up to the club she KNOW where to turn since she’s done it twelve million times, she’s not all that great at seeing what she doesn’t know. Take yesterday. She’s been wanting to drive up 202 to Glen Mills, PA to see a huge new Wegman’s grocery store. She drove up herself once but never found the store because it is inside a large complex of stores enough off 202 not to be visible easily. My sister and I drove her there yesterday as she kept telling us we didn’t need our stupid GPS to tell us how to find it because SHE could get us there, but she really couldn’t. At every bend in the road she was sure it was just there and WE weren’t looking close enough to find it. She was right about one thing – the Wegman’s was not visible from the road from the direction we were coming at it and it was ONLY because my GPS told me the name of the road off 202 to turn onto that we found it.
Mom said that was easy, I can get here again now that I know what light to make the turn. Luckily for us, mom thought the store was WAY too big for her, that there were way too many aisles, and she’ll stay happy shopping locally. Yay, good choice mom.
If you ask my mom she’ll tell you her reflexes are that of a twenty-year old and that she drives really well. She prides herself in her independence (as she should) and loves being the one who can still go and do. One of her best friends (also going to be 98) just had a car accident near her winter home in Hawaii – rammed the back of a truck – so her fault. Her four children pow-wowed and said, sorry mom, no more driving. Because she spends part of the year in Wilmington still, driving to get to meet her friends, she’s now NOT even coming east and my mother fears she’ll not see her dear friend again. Of her other peers (all women), all have been forced to stop driving by their children.
It begs the question why aren’t WE forcing our mom to stop?? For now, we think she’s okay, that she doesn’t push the envelope other than she sneaks in a drive from time to time to Saks in Bala. Her younger friends (in their 80s!!) offer to do the driving when they go out at night, mom admits her limitations and acknowledges when she knows not to drive certain places or times. All to the good common sense rule.
The good news is that the Delaware DMV doesn’t allow someone to renew their license before sixty days out from expiration date so we COULDN’T renew yesterday. Bonus. Mom knows time will come when she doesn’t drive – she just doesn’t see NOW being the time. We don’t see her as a hazard on the road, nor in jeopardy of killing anyone else (the real fear with having an older driver in the family) so off she goes today on her regular whirlwind of going and doing. More power to her.
The rest of yesterday was spent walking through Hagley Museum and having a dual celebration birthday lunch (my brother-in-law and moi) at the Green Room at the Hotel duPont (probably soon to be called Hotel Dow). I took the worst iPhone photos inside the hotel, unpostable really, so you’ll have to take my word for it, the Green Room hasn’t changed – still magnificent. Lunch however, was meh. My Caesar salad had mystery lettuce leftover from the days the DuPont Company was a chemical giant!
We got home last night just as it started to rain heavily and heavy rain seems to be de rigeur for today as well. Fine with me – I’ve got thank you notes to write and bills to pay and at 68 now, a nap or two to take!