There’s Nothing Wrong with My Driving
Unlike Europeans with their extensive rail and bus systems, to Americans their car is almost an extension of themselves. With its myriad of freeways and suburbs this is even more so in Southern California. You take a Californian’s car away it is almost like sealing them off from the outside world. So it was for my extremely independent mother.
We had tried to talk with her for several years about her driving. We noticed her reactions were slower and she got mixed up when she drove somewhere not on her regular routes. When she talked about having the great grandchildren over and driving them to the beach the summer she turned 89 we cringed. Later that year after driving the 70 miles to visit us she told us about the “awful driver” who had suddenly stopped right in front of her on the freeway on ramp. Her car bumper was caved in and part of the hood raised. She also had another accident that we found out about later, that she neglected to tell us. One evening when she arrived at CVS pharmacy to pick up some prescriptions her car kept going when she pulled into a parking place and it ran into some bushes. The car received some damage then also, and she had it repaired.
The deciding moment came when she drove 260 miles to visit my sister in Yuma. I was out all day, but was home in the afternoon when my sister called. “Have you heard from Mom?” she inquired. Mom had started out that morning and ran into some “car trouble” along the way. She told my sister that she wasn’t sure she would be able to continue, but she was going to call me because I was closer. I did not have my cell phone with me that morning so I was not aware of any calls. Just as I yelled to my husband to check for messages on my phone, my sister said, “Oh good, Mom just drove up.” Before I had time to even react to her comment, she exclaimed, “Oh no, she just ran into the house!” My mother had indeed come into their yard and run into two pillars of their carport, knocking one off its base. She was OK, but she easily could have hit her 15 year old great grandson who had opened the driveway gate for her.
AAA was called to tow the car away. When it was explained to her that she might cause an accident and hurt herself or a child it fell on deaf ears. What I have discovered about someone with dementia is you cannot reason with them. Trying to talk to them is like trying to talk to a three year old. The car never came back from the repair shop. My brother and nephew came up from Phoenix and drive it to their house. My mother was furious that her car “was taken away” from her and moped for three days. In fact, she is still mad at us and can’t believe how horrible her children are treating her.