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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Dad's Car

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

Dad’s prized possession happened to be whichever automobile that he currently owned. We washed and dried his car so often that it’s a wonder that we didn’t rub off the paint.

Several times a year we would polish his vehicle and being a mechanic, he was able to keep it in tip-top shape. People seemingly came out of the woodwork when they heard that he had a car for sale. Buying one of his automobiles was like buying a new car, only at a much lower price.

My father was a by-the-book driver. He didn’t speed, he didn’t pass on a double yellow line and he kept a safe distance between his car and the vehicle in front of him. If he’d had any patience, he would have been an excellent driver’s education instructor.

Unfortunately, in his sixties, the doctors discovered that Dad had advanced glaucoma; they wisely advised him to give up driving.

One might as well have asked President Bush to quit garbling the English language or have begged President Obama to stop spending money we don’t have. It is an understatement to say that my father was stubborn.

For the next few years, his superb driving skills somewhat compensated for his foggy vision. My siblings and I discussed the possibility of talking to him about giving up his car but we knew that such an act would go over like a lead balloon. We were the last people on the planet from whom he would take advice.

Finally, in his early seventies Dad began bringing Mom along to act as his eyes. On one particular sunny day, he had stopped at a red light but with the glare, he could not tell when it turned green. Therefore, he asked my mother, “Is the light green yet?”

He received no reply.

Mom could see just fine but like her father, she was deaf. She had a hearing aid but I suppose due to vanity, refused to wear it. If she watched one’s lips, she could usually figure out what was being said but on this particular day she was looking out her window admiring the birds.

My dad of little patience asked again, this time in a louder voice: “Edith, has that light turned green?”

Mom’s reply was, “Look at that woodpecker. Isn’t he beautiful?”

Dad, now steaming, yelled, “I don’t care about that blasted bird! (For the sake of women and children I have cleaned up the actual language). What color is the light?”

“And there’s a yellow-breasted sapsucker.”

Eventually my father, totally flabbergasted, looked both ways and hit the gas pedal. Fortunately, he and Mom arrived home safely.

A few years later, Dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. While still at home but bedridden, he made the toughest decision of his life. Since he could no longer drive and since Mom had never learned to operate a motor vehicle, he asked my brother-in-law, a fellow mechanic, to find a buyer for his beloved automobile.

After that, he seemed to give up, dying a few months later. At the funeral, I put a model car in the coffin and said my last goodbyes to a man I truly loved.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


A sad but wonderful story! Thanks!

My Dad's old El Camino was so dented up from small bumps he managed to collect hitting anything within 10 feet of where he parked that one would have thought it had been a bumper car in a carnival.
The neighbors were afraid to drive on the same road with him. They contacted my youngest sister and asked for us siblings to take the keys away from him.
Losing one's car and license is really the loss of freedom and mobility. I ask myself how much longer before I will be in the same situation. Today, an elderly man backed into the passenger door as I was turning into a parking spot next to him because he didn't check if anyone was behind him. I'm glad for my sake he did the backing but wonder how soon it will be myself that is the one forgetting to look both ways when I back out of a spot....

I've seen the condition of your car. You must be rebelling against having had to help keep your dad's car so perfect. lol

Thanks for a great story. It had some humor, and some sadness; all in all, nice reading.

What a great story. My Dad finally gave up driving last year at 95. He couldn't figure out how to get his walker into the back seat without falling. (Sigh.) He still thinks he's going to eventually get back in and drive again. Yeah. Like that's going to go that way. Thanks for sharing.

A find tribute to your father. My mother, a great lady indeed, voluntarily gave up driving when her reflexes began to decline. She was one of the few I know who didn't feel much sorrow about the decision.

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