I stopped driving a long six months ago. Even after all this time, I still find myself thinking nearly every day, “I’ll just run into town and…”
Then I catch myself and remember I gave my word I would not drive anymore. And I sigh.
I agreed to stop driving because my children were concerned. Beth had noticed what she called poor judgement and my periodic disorientation in traffic, and she had discussed it with my son, Steven. After he agreed with her assessment, Steven confronted me during a visit we made to his home in Boston.
“Mom, I think it’s time you give up driving,” he said while holding my hand.
I resisted, defended, and tried to negotiate. “I’ll only drive in Winona. I won’t drive with anyone else in the car.” But Steven persisted.
“Mom,” he said softly, “remember what you asked the EMTs immediately after your accident?”
I had been in a serious car accident eighteen months prior. I pulled out at a crossing too early and was T-boned. When I awoke minutes later with two EMTs in the car, I had no memory of what had happened, but my first words were, “Did I hurt someone?” Fortunately the other driver only suffered a bruised shoulder. But I had often told my family, “If I had seriously hurt or killed someone….I just don’t know how I would have be able to live with that.”
“Steven,” I shot back in anger, “it’s not fair to use my own words against me.”
But I knew Steven was absolutely right. I knew my driving wasn’t consistently safe. And I just couldn’t face the chance that I might hurt someone else.
I haven’t driven since.
The transition has been…very difficult. In the six months since I last drove, I’ve worked out a lot of the logistics of how to get to where I need to go and who will take me there. Keith has been very patient about becoming my primary driver, and I’ve learned to become more organized when making plans that will take me outside the home. I had previously resigned my membership from three boards because I didn’t feel competent in fulfilling my duties due to my memory issues, so my ‘hard to reschedule’ commitments have become almost non-existent. The transition has been similar for socializing; I had pretty much given up going to events that involved large crowds. But I do keep in touch with friends as much as possible. All my friends are willing to drive the ten minutes from town to my home, so I often invite them for lunch or a light dinner with me. And again, Keith is very good about taking me to visit someone and can always find something else to do in town. It has taken a while to figure out these logistics, but for the present they are working out fairly well.
It is the psychological and emotional transition that are more difficult. Stay tuned for a future post with the things I miss most about driving.