A New Driver For Miss Daisy...

Several years ago, I had the great misfortune of having to be the one to tell my mother that she could no longer drive a vehicle. Now, don't get me wrong, although my mother is currently 82 years old, her mind is still as sharp as a tack (perhaps sharper than mine is). However, Mother had been diagnosed with macular degeneration some years back and had been seeing a specialist for quite some time. She had been in the hospital and during her recovery, I noticed that her vision appeared to be worse than usual. Previously, she told me that her eye doctor had given her instructions to only drive to place close to her home that she was very familiar with, such as, the grocery store, drug store, etc. The very next day, she drove to her sister's house...approximately an hour away. Defending herself, she told me that she was "very familiar" with that road...YEP! You see where I'm going with this now, don't you?

I did go to the specialist's office with her the next time she had an appointment. As they tested her eyes, I asked, "What exactly is her vision?" They not only told me that, but also told me what the requirements were for being able to legally drive. Upon hearing the results, I wrote down a question on a torn off piece of note paper from my purse and as we headed to the next room, held it up and showed it to the nurse. The note read, "Should my mother be driving?" She shrugged and silently mouthed, "You'll have to ask the doctor that question."

The appointment was coming to an end and the doctor was telling my mother that not much had changed since the last visit and that he would see her again in 3 months. I then piped up and asked, "What should my mother's driving limitations be?" He very calmly looked at me and stated, "They should be limited to her driveway." OH MY GOODNESS!...She was absolutely FURIOUS with him! Enough so, to seek out another specialist (even though the results were the same) to whom we had to travel an hour away to see now. I drove her back home and told her that I didn't want her driving any more and that I would be more than happy to find and pay for her a driver to take her around wherever she wanted to go. "NO!", she said. I told her that if she could not promise me that she wouldn't drive, I would have to take her car keys home with me because I didn't want her to have an accident and harm herself or anyone else for that matter. She was sitting in her recliner at the time and popped the footrest down, jumped up and promptly informed me that she would "Whip my butt with her cane" if I took her keys away! WOW! We both made a break for the key hanger on the wall...I was NOT believing this!!! I now had a 5th child...and she was going to be worse than any of the others all put together. " Why, oh why did I have to be in charge of this job?", I thought. She told me that she would rather sit in her chair every day than have a driver. OK...so, this was NOT working and I finally said, "That is your choice; just do whatever you want to do...but you are NOT driving." I even tried to call in reinforcements (my sister and her son), but my sister just sat there crying because she couldn't believe that Mother was saying such awful things, while I said it didn't matter to me what she said...I was NOT GIVING IN! (guess that strong-willed child thing can work for you sometimes after all). Then, something happened...my nephew reminded her very calmly that she had gotten him a job when he was in college doing that very thing; driving for an elderly couple. I had forgotten all about that! And perhaps that was what got her wheels to turning and at least THINKING about the possibility of having a driver.

Eventually, Mother agreed to have a driver. She likes to "go" too much to allow her stubbornness to stand in the way. David happened to be home for a few months and took the job. He was very organized. He kept a day timer to keep up with her appointments, took her to the grocery store and even worked with medicare to help solve some of her problems getting medications. When he got ready to move to Kentucky for medical school, he asked me if Codi could take over his job. I said, "You'll have to ask Mam-Maw; it's up to her." She was agreeable to the idea...yes, the lady who did NOT want a driver was now not willing to do without having a driver! So, for 2 years now, Codi has been "Driving Miss Daisy". David presented her with her very own day timer and I must say that she was even better than David was at keeping a "Mam-Maw pace". She never rushed her, allowing her to shop for as long as she wished at the grocery store, shoe store and department store. She even set her bills up for her in a file and wrote check and mailed them on time (because now she could not see well enough to even do this). They usually also ate lunch out on these "errand days" and very quickly, Codi was calling my mother Mam-Maw too! She was absolutely a Godsend.

Now that Codi and David have married and will be moving to Mississippi, the task of finding a new driver was at hand. Then, Codi called and asked..."Could my sister-in-law be Mam-Maw's new driver?" Once again I said, "You'll have to ask Mam-Maw; it's up to her." And once again, she said, "OK, I'll try it."

I know that Mother and Codi grew very close during these past two years and she will miss her greatly. I also know that growing older is very difficult, because I understand that one does not want to give up their independance. However, changes occur even when we don't want them to. So...beginning this week, we have a new driver for "Miss Daisy" and I am both anxious and hopeful to see how it works out.

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