Growing Old Gracefully….

or fighting it every step of the way. I don’t know which is worse.  There is something to be said for surrounding yourself with friends while you are young so that you are not completely alone and lost when the time comes for you to need help.

Andy’s mom stopped driving about a month ago. Not because she wanted to, but because we asked her to. Or rather, her three children sat her down and said they didn’t think she was safe. She promised not to drive until she was evaluated. In her mind, she was going to prove to us that we are all nuts and she is perfectly fine! Never mind that her husband is scared when she’s driving or that multiple scrapes and scratches on the car predict otherwise.

She took an off-road evaluation first.  Testing of her memory, reaction time and other motor skills. According to her, she did fine “except that I was kind of slow getting my foot from the accelerator to the brake.”  And “it’s a good thing she asked me those questions to test my memory as quickly as she did, or I wouldn’t have remembered.” A rational person would find that a little scary. She thought it quite normal.

Five days ago she took an on-road evaluation with a driving instructor who does these evaluations full time. The guy has extremely gray hair; I guess I would too if I had his job. Super patient man! Mom thought she had passed this one too. “I only went in the wrong lane in the parking lot, so I think I did fine.”  The instructor warned me at the end of the test that he wasn’t going to pass her. I didn’t tell her that. Her doctor gets to do that one! Which he did yesterday.

It’s like watching a little kid slowly have all his toys taken from him. It’s pitiful and sad and what makes it worse is that they both fight each of these stages as though they can hold back time and all the lousiness of getting old will go away. If they don’t deal with it, it simply won’t cause a problem! And they are alone. They have not developed a group of friends to rely on in their life, so now they are extremely lost. There is no one to ask for help; their church least of all. Sunday mornings they have a ride to services, but that’s about it.  The real stinker is that even if they had someone to lean on, they wouldn’t. They just refuse to let on that there is a problem. They’ll get good at riding the public bus paid for by lottery tickets, I guess.

I just hope that when I’m there, I’ll be gracious enough to let others help me. I won’t run from reality or stop others from caring. I won’t be so proud and pigheaded or passive aggressive. I won’t live in denial or pretend there’s no pain. I’ll lean on my God instead of myself and I’ll manage somehow to grow through that stage with grace.

And when they come for my keys, they can have them. I’ll just buy me a pink stretch limo with a wine bar and leather and a really cute chauffer to drive me around! Life’s too much fun to stand by and watch.




3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leon
    Jul 19, 2008 @ 19:56:40

    I well remember when we went through this kind of thing with my mom. It was so difficult watching her lose control. It was painful to realize that she was no longer “mom” for me, even though she was always my mom, but not she was becoming an old lady that was no longer the woman I knew as mom.

    I’m with you. I want to have fun when I get older. The limo idea ain’t half bad!


  2. just an apprentice
    Jul 22, 2008 @ 10:37:32

    Thanks for writing about this part of the human experience.


  3. dawn
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 00:08:39

    It’s so hard to walk with someone through this time, not only because of what you see it do to them, but also how it is a burden for you! May God give you grace for these conversations and changes in their lives as well as the impact it has on your own.


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