Red Arrow Worries

My husband and I are in Florida, in July of all times. Spending the week on Anna Maria Island, where the Gulf coddles our toes in warm bath water, makes it tolerable. But the real reason we come to Florida this time of year is for no other reason than to visit his parents – Eve 84, Tom 89. I like to believe that when we come here all other worries will instantly wash away with the outgoing Gulf tide. Yet, that’s not possible. I can’t help but worry about Tom’s driving (Eve does not drive due to her macula degeneration). More specifically, I worry because Tom still believes he ‘s capable of driving, even though his legs hurt and he can barely rise from his recliner, the one he sits in for endless hours each day.  I ask him if he still drives, especially when he takes the medicine that makes him see double.

“Drive,” he says. “They won’t let me drive.” When he says “they,” he means his four adult children who followed him and Eve to Florida some six years ago. They take turns driving Tom to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, casino, and to his favorite deli. He has a sparkling new Lexus, so why wouldn’t they want to be in the driver’s seat. But I know that it’s more than the smooth ride, the broad seats, the dual- zone automatic climate control, and the surround sound audio system that lures them into driving. I know his children drive Tom to here-and-there because they harbor the desire.

But what happens when someone who should not be driving drives because there is no one who cares enough to drive him to the doctor, the pharmacy, or his favorite restaurant? That man drives.

While in Florida, my sister-in-law’s good friend tells me her husband has Alzheimer’s. She asked him to cook an egg the other day; he cracked the egg directly onto the flat top stove. Then she asked him to shut the light off; he looked at her with utter confusion. Yet, he still drives. “If I wasn’t with him,” she says, “he’d turn left on a red arrow.”

I ask her if there is anyone else that can do the driving. There isn’t. She doesn’t drive and there is no family in the area. I ask her if she and her husband would be willing to take public transportation.

“I suppose we could,” she says. “But he’s so stubborn. I can’t tell him what to do.”

I left it at that, at a loss for other options to offer. What will it take to stop him from driving? A car accident? Loss of life?

4 Comments

  1. Great insight to a very prevalent problem. I too worry about drivers who should not be driving. Thanks for the story.

    • Thanks for reading my blog. If you have further input, please don’t hesitate to add your thoughts.

  2. Melissa, the kids will drive him anywhere at anytime. It is one of the elders last freedoms; one we will all face. He buys a Lexus because he can, and because he cannot. Facing our live’s end and knowing that it is inevitable is not in Tom’s lexicon. You, who have seen what other lives it can change forever, know the powerlessness of our personal decisions. You can be a voice, I am looking forward to your book and perhaps helping your dad-in-law is facing his limitations. Great piece you wrote because it is close to my heart.

  3. Thanks for your input,Pam.

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