Aging is part of life. For many, driving is part of life. What happens when aging and driving collide? While it's truly a serious matter, sometimes the stories about elderly folks driving can still be funny and bring a smile to your lips.
How My 88 Year Old Mom Got Her Driver's License
As my parents faced the impacts of aging, my sister and me initially watched from the sidelines. My Dad's health was failing, he needed a walker to get around, and his heart and lungs were no longer up to par.
When we lost dad two years ago, we realized how much Mom depended upon us. We picked her up for her weekly hair appointment. And grocery shopping. And to come over and spend time with the grand-kids, Lucy, Mike, and Tommy.
But, she still wanted to drive. She said still having "her car" brought her independence. She realized driving at night, or in the rain was no longer wise. And a conversation about snow was no discussion. She would stay home or ask for a ride.
Then about 3 months ago, my sister Amy and I were somewhat pleased, yet still anxious. Her driver's license was expiring. We hoped she would fail her driving test, and we would not have to be "the bad guys".
Mom announced she would drive herself to the Department of Motor Vehicles mid-morning on a Wednesday. Because she said traffic would be lighter. What happened after that was not completely clear. At the time.
What we did know, was Mom's driver's license was renewed, and despite our concerns, she is still driving herself short distances on sunny days.
After several months of driving freedom, Amy and I were having lunch with Mom. Conversation about her driving was still awkward, but we just had to know.
"Mom, you know we are worried about you driving by yourself. And, well, we were somewhat surprised they renewed your driver's license back in April. What happened? I mean at the Department of Motor Vehicles?"
Mom smiled. And was that a half wink?
"Well I did all the things they asked me to do. I showed them which pedal was the brake, which one was the gas pedal, and how to use the parking brake. They were very impressed. and I drove around the parking lot like they asked."
Not convinced, Amy said: "Mom, did you drive within the lines? Did you start and stop within the painted lines and boxes like you were supposed to?"
Mom replied, "Not exactly. I started out okay, and the inspector did flinch when I ran over the first orange cone. He jumped even more when I hit the next two, and especially when I barely stopped at the bumper of the patrol car."
"Mom!" I exclaimed. "If that was your driving, how did you pass your driving test?"
"Oh, I'm not real sure about it myself." Said Mom.
"The inspector was such a dear. He was very patient with me."
"I wonder if he was distracted by the dozen home baked chocolate chip cookies and tumbler of milk I gave him when I first got in the car with him?"
Grandma Driving the Speed Limit
Ethel, Martha, and Myrtle got into Ethel's car for a routine trip into town. Ethel needed some cat foot for Elvis, and Martha and Myrtle wanted to stop by the pharmacy and grocery store for their Tumeric and Glucosamine refills, and some fresh blueberries. (On sale for $1.99 a pint this week)
As they got closer to town they passed a Highway Patrolman at a speed trap. When they passed by he noticed they were impeding traffic, driving much slower than the posted 55 mph speed limit. He pulled out to investigate, knowing some driving very slow is just as dangerous as someone driving fast.
He came up to the car and turned his lights on, and tapped his siren once, just a brief moment to get their attention.
Ethel promptly signaled to turn off at the right side of road, and stopped on the edge of the road.
As the officer stepped out of his car and approached, he said Ethel, the driving, sitting up very straight, very prim and proper. And she had both hands on the steering wheel.
He looked into the car. All three ladies were in the front seat. And they all had on their seat belts. And that's when he noticed Martha and Myrtle.
They looked liked they'd seen a ghost or something. Each of them was clutching their purses in their laps. Actually, more like directly in front of their bodies. Like they had protecting themselves from something.
"Ma'am, may I see your driver's license." The officer said.
Ethel replied, "Why yes, of course officer. Is there something wrong?"
"Well, yes Ma'am. It's about the speed limit." "You need to understand that driving significantly lower that the speed limit is also dangerous as other drivers do not expect it."
"But officer," Ethel stated, "I was driving the posted speed limit of 25 mph."
"Actually, the speed limit on this stretch of road is 55 mph Ma'am." said the officer. "This is U.S. Route 25. You know, the name of the highway."
He continued, "Are your friends okay Ma'am? They look as white as a sheet. And they're knuckles are red from clutching their purses so tightly."
"Oh I'm sure they are fine." Ethel intoned. "We just turned on to this road recently off Highway 107."