17 June 2010

Age and duty

I was going to do a post of Awkward Family Photos (not mine-other people's), but I didn't feel like screwing around with extracting pics, pasting them in a post, and coming up with silly captions for them. I'm in the middle of an extracurricular project (about which more another time) and time is of the essence with completing that.

We've had an interesting last couple of days here. The Better Half's mom, who's 91, has a fellow she goes out with-dancing, dinner, and the like. He's a relative youngster of 88. Bob's a good sort, though a bit prone to long drawn-out tales. He's had a long and interesting career-he was in the Navy during WWII and helped create the first airborne early warning planes (Project Cadillac). Kind of cool stuff to hear about. Anyhow, here in Illinois, once a driver hits 87, a road test with an instructor is required annually to get a license. He's taken his road test three times-and obviously not passed it three times. It's small stuff, nothing that a day of work with someone couldn't probably fix. But as of now, he's not got a valid license.

My topic tonight is not necessarily whether he should be driving or not-I'd guess that 3/4 of the drivers in the QCs probably wouldn't pass a road test if they had to take one tomorrow (that possibly includes yours truly). But it is about what his family needs to get ready for.

Bob's daughter is the closest relative around (the 'point man', as I like to call it. Every family has one.). She lives across town-it takes 'round about 20-30 minutes in average traffic to get from one side of the Quad Cities metro area to the other.

I figured Bob hadn't said anything to anyone in the family about his driving test, so I called his daughter to spill the beans. I do think his family has to know about this so they can plan accordingly. Her attitude was 'He can call a cab to get him wherever he needs to go. I can't teach him to drive, and I can't drive clear across town to attend to him'.

Well, it's like this: TBH and I have our own elderly to take care of, and I sure as hell don't have a lot of extra time to run him around (though I'd be glad to take him somewhere close once in a while). It's something his kids need to get together and deal with. I have a 120 mile round trip when I have to deal with something for my mom. I don't particularly enjoy that trip but somebody has to do it. So suck it up, kids. Hard times are coming for y'all.

If Bob isn't able to drive, it takes a big chunk of independence away for him and indirectly for TBH's mom. No more dances (she can drive but not at night, and her mental acuity isn't great anymore) or going out for dinner. I do think that at their ages the ability to get out and do things and stay connected with people of their own age group is vital to their livelihood. There aren't all that many of their generation, the so-called 'Greatest Generation', tempered in the Great Depression and tested in the war, left. They have said that social functions like dances with music they like are getting harder to find. The new Plus 60s cut their teeth on Elvis and Buddy Holly and aren't into the stylings of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey.

But I digress. We could drive them to some things they like-but with work and our own lives, it'd be tough to do on a regular basis. I guess the long and short of it is that I think they'll both go downhill fairly quickly if they lose the easy ability to socialize and lose yet another facet of their independence. At their ages, we're under no illusion that they'll be able to go out for many years to come. And from one standpoint, they've both had a hell of a run. That they can go out to a place and dance a bit and have dinner at 88 and 91 is pretty damn good. A lot of their friends are in worse shape than they are. More of them are long gone.

It does seem like Bob's family hasn't given a lot of thought to what might happen should he lose the freedom that comes with the ability to pick up the keys and get into the car. I think he might be the type that accepts help kicking and screaming. I can understand that. But it's kind of up to his kids to take the bull by the horns and have a serious talk with him or help him out. I've learned that I can't be responsible for the life of everyone I know.

I believe that if his son would go out on the road with him and help him out, he could pass his test and be able to drive. I have noticed that Bob has aged quite a bit over the last year or so, but this is Illinois, where we're pretty lenient with older drivers-hell, we pretty much give a license to everyone that can afford the fee.

On the other hand, if his boy goes out and we find out Bob just isn't getting it anymore, then that's that and all of us will have to do a bit of adjustment, including them. I'd hate to see it because it seems like it would be the beginning of the end for those two. Reckon that's part of the cycle of life, though.

We'll see. Interesting times.

yankeedog out.


  1. Did I upset you, YD? I don't have you on Twitter anymore. :(

  2. YD - a late comment but your damn right. We always saw to whatever it was our parents needed to help them best enjoy their twilight years and I find it astounding when there are those who can step up, don't. Distance is a factor but we always understood that it was harder for a couple of my siblings to engage, but they did what they could. Good post!