Several years ago I found myself in the position of having to take my aging mother's car keys away from her. Now, before you start to judge me about that, I need to explain that my mother has macular degeneration and is legally blind. At the time I had no idea how bad her eyesight had become. I just happened to take her to her eye specialist that day and before he left the exam room I simply asked him what her driving limitations should be. An innocent enough question, right? Well, his reply startled me: "It should be limited to her driveway." OH MY! I knew that was bad news on a couple of different levels: short-term, she was FURIOUS that he had said that and long-term, it was going to be my misfortune to have to "convince" (tell...) her she could no longer drive. Now, while I knew that this was a task that must be done, I had no idea how difficult it was going to be for both of us. Her, because she was losing some of her independence and me...well, me because she told me if I took her keys away she was going to "Beat my ass with her cane"! (Sorry...her words, not mine.)
I sort of made things alright with her (although, the subject of her not being able to drive comes up weekly...sigh) by hiring a driver for her. She has had three throughout the years and loved each and every one of them. Recently, however, my husband thought that I should perhaps start driving her again (I attempted it once for a short period of time...). She is, after all, getting older (85 this year...) and it would be good for me to spend some time with her. I will ashamedly admit that I wasn't overjoyed at this fact because driving my mom is a little like "Driving Miss Daisy".
Have you ever seen that movie, "Driving Miss Daisy"? If not, you need to. If you have...well, you know that Miss Daisy could be a "little" cantankerous; she likes things done "Her" way. Now, there's nothing wrong with having things done ones own way, but it DOES take a little getting used to and a LOT of patience for the one doing the driving. The first matter is that every week there MUST be a trip to Wal-Mart. Before (and most times still...) I began "Driving Miss Daisy", I literally cringed at the thought of walking into a Wal-Mart. I once had a panic attack in Wal-Mart while shopping there during the holidays and I pretty much swore off Wal-Mart at that point. I like to shop at Target, that's just my store of preference. Therefore, my first time out with Miss Daisy, I attempted to convince her to let it be HER store of choice as well.
Miss Daisy didn't exactly say no to Target, she even enjoyed looking around the store. However, the "exact" items she needed were not to be found at Target. What do I mean by "exact"? Well, that is another little game we play and one that I have finally learned the rules to. She makes a list and I do not merely pick it up and find the items listed. OH NO, NO, NO...I have learned to ask for all the empty bottles and packages to be set out on the table so I can see EXACTLY what the item looks like. Because if I bring something back that doesn't match that item, it has to go back. And I REALLY don't want to go back to Wal-Mart. I didn't give up on trying to get her to bend to my ways, though, after glancing at her list one day and declaring that I thought we could get everything on the list at Kroger; I needed to go to Kroger myself. As I waited for her to OK this idea, I could see the wheels in her head turning. Then she asked, "Even the items that need to be purchased in the pharmacy?" Smiling and feeling very confident now, I informed her that indeed they did have a pharmacy at Kroger. Quite simply she asked, "And they are as cheap as Wal-Mart?" Well, she got me there...I headed to Wal-Mart.
I suppose it was at that point that I realized that if I didn't bend, I would break. I was making this Wal-Mart thing too much of a big deal in my own mind. Was it really that much trouble? Sure, I hated going to that store but due to my own selfish reasons. If my mother wanted to make a weekly trip to get out of the house, I would learn to embrace (well, perhaps "embrace" is not the right word...) it. After all, at some point, we all come the the realization that our parents are not going to live forever and should 't we sacrifice for them the way that they did for us while we were growing up? I'm pretty sure my mother did a lot of things and took me a lot of places she wasn't that fond of too. And so each Thursday I find myself wandering the aisles of Wal-Mart, no longer searching for those once unfamiliar items. I now know the items, brands and their places on the shelves by heart. My mother gets to get out of the house and wander around, meeting me at a designated place at the end of our shopping trip. We usually eat out afterwards or pick up lunch and then go back to her house to visit for a while. When it all comes down to "Driving Miss Daisy and Wal-Mart", I think "bending" was a much better choice than "breaking". I may not have "embraced" Wal-Mart"...but I HAVE made peace with it.