When I took mom’s driver’s license away, I knew it would create more work for my family and me. In the instant that the doctor told her she couldn’t drive anymore, we instantly became mom’s taxi service. But, taking her off the road was a public service.
It was interesting timing. A the same time she could no longer drive, both of our children passed their drivers test, and got their licenses. This was payback for all of times she was Perry’s taxi service when I was a child, and our children’s taxi service many years later.
I already had a taste of what my life would become, since mom didn’t drive at night, or long distances. I was used to schlepping her around after dark, and on longer trips. But now, we were the full time driver’s service.
It’s More Than A Necessity, It’s An Activity
They say that losing the ability to drive is losing a great deal of freedom. When mom had her license, she was free and easy, coming and going whenever she wanted to. Towards the end, even before we knew she had Dementia, her driving skills were very bad. A siren would paralyze her. Instead of pulling over, she would freeze in the middle of the street. It happened while I was in the car with her, and a few of our other family members. We all knew she needed to stop driving.
But the places she would drive to were more than just places she needed to go. They took up time during her day, and gave her someplace to go. She would go from Target to the grocery store, to the mall. It was just something for her to do. Now that she couldn’t drive. She was land locked in her apartment complex.
My mom is stubborn; she refused to take the shuttle the city provides for seniors. If she couldn’t go on her terms, she was going to make us take her. And I couldn’t just leave her sit alone.
Three Times becomes A Regular Activity
Not soon after she stopped driving, I asked her if she wanted to have breakfast on a Saturday morning. She was so happy. We decided as long as we were going out for breakfast, I would also take her to her favorite grocery stores she used to visit. There ws no shuttle that went to these various places, so I agreed to go. After the third week, this now became a regular weekly event.
So our weekly routine started. I would pick her up at 8:30am. But she would always call exactly fifteen minutes after eight to confirm.
We would first stop at Corner Bakery, where she has a bagel…double toasted, butter and strawberry jam, with coffee in a ceramic mug. I rotate my menu, and get my coffee in a paper cup.
After that, we go to Trader Joe’s, where she gets wine, a challah (Jewish style twisted egg bread), and a few frozen dinners. She doesn’t remember the name of the store, so she calls it “that place where I get wine”.
Next, we go to Stater Brother’s, because it’s the only place in the area that carries her favorite brand of kosher bologna. She is also comfortable with the layout, and knows where everything is.
By now, it’s about 10:15am, and we head home so she can play cards at noon. And that is Saturdays With Harriet. This has been going on for about five years now…every week.