Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life's Tests

Yesterday I took my mother-in-law to get her license renewed. She's 85, still enjoys good health and she and my father-in-law live on their own. Since he had a stroke 2 years ago, they don't have quite the same life now though. Life has a way of doing that to us, pulling the rug out from under our feet rather quickly.

Mom T's driving is mostly within a 2 mile radius of their house, up to Aldi's grocery or Walmart for the rest. I can't say I feel confident about her driving skills, but she does plan her trips for less busy times of the day. She drives slow when I am with her, a little like she's riding with the driving instructor. That's the thing about getting old, you still have tests you have to pass.

At the doctor you want to pass all those tests and get a clean bill of health. You want to keep tabs on all of your bills and commitments, not letting anything slide...that would be a sign that your memory is failing. Then when something as simple as renewing your driver's license comes around, you hope you can pass the eye test. In Arkansas there are no other tests given to senior citizens, but other states have restrictions on license renewals. Fourteen states (Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and South Carolina) issue the license for 2 or even 1 year for those older than 80.

Mom T didn't even get her license until she was in her 40's. Like so many other women she was a stay at home Mom in the 1950's. When the weekend rolled around the whole family piled into the car and went to the grocery store. But by the late 60's, women were working outside the home and now driving was necessary. It was hard for her to learn how to drive and more than once she almost gave up. My husband was a teenager then and would encourage his Mom. So now, it's impossible to say to her "It's time to give up driving."

That one skill that we take for granted all these years is key to that feeling of independence. I can see how important it is to her. On the way home from the DMV she held that license in her hand and couldn't keep her eyes off the little blue card. Beaming with pride, just like when she got it all those years ago.


  1. Congrats to Mom and Bless you as a d-i-l who truly cares. I personally think the 1 year renewal should apply in every state for those over a certain age. Perhaps as young as 70 and I'm 66 but yikes, I see some wild and zany senior drivers. I'd rather be inconvienced myself than to arrogantly think I'm still "sharp" when perhaps not! Have a happy day, Mollye

  2. Congratulations to your Mom in law! I'm sure it's a great feeling of accomplishment to pass that test at her age and it's wonderful that she and her husband are still living at home and getting around to do what they need to do. I hope you have a wonderful day...Maura :)

  3. That's sweet! I think we all need to be on the look out for the older drivers and just be more careful and patient with them. I will be us at one point in our lives too!

    My mom didn't get her license until I was 10. When I started driving she let me drive all the time and would ride with me. About 3 years ago she was rear ended and hasn't drove since. I don't think she will ever drive again and she is only 65.


  4. I can document my mother's mental decline (although she never developed "real" dementia--just a loss of joie de vivre) to when she could no longer drive and had to depend on us for transportation and everything else.

    Agreed that a system of testing older drivers on a regular basis should be in place in all states.

  5. I've often thought - and more than once have told my daughter - that when it comes that time in life when my husband - her dad - needs to hand over the keys to the car, she - my daughter - is going to have to be the one to break the news to him and his is NOT going to like it one bit. The news will be better coming from her than from me or anyone else for that matter. It just will.

  6. Glad she got it. They say older drivers still have fewer accidents than younger ones; experience and patience counts even if a bit of sharpness has worn off.

    When my dad had to give up driving, he kept the car for a bit and used to go anf sit in it and listen to the radio. It was sad but his way of letting it go gently. He had got to be a bit of a hazard to everyone before that mind...

    Thanks for visiting mine.

  7. That's awesome,my Gran rode her bike up until she was 82.
    Thanks so much for passing by our blog, and for your kind words.
    You look like you have an incredible World here...and if that's a view you see everyday (your banner) then your World is mightly beautiful.
    Off to browse around a little...

  8. That cartoon gave me a chuckle, my husband believes the other drivers on the road belong behind him. Congrats! to your Mother-inlaw. I am sure she is a cautious, responsible, driver. Happy driving:)

  9. Congratulations to your MIL! I'm so proud of her too. She's such a tough lady. Keep it up!
    Best wishes, Kristy

  10. It is so important for their independence... and so hard to take away. My MIL's brother is still in the nursing home following his car accident. Everyone wonders why his sons didn't take the keys long ago... Everyone, including my BIL, SIL and Hubs. Trouble is, they don't see it in their own dad. He bumped a car last week at a red light. No damage was done, but I took it as a warning.

    I believe seniors need to maintain a sense of independence, but every state needs to have some way to insure that elderly drivers are still safe.

    My FIL doesn't worry about something happening to him, but it would kill him if he were to pull out in front of a car full of kids!

    Sorry to ramble on... I, too, am proud of your MIL. Congrats to her for still going strong!


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