It Sure Is Dark

What do you do when your parent is getting on in years and you are not comfortable being a passenger in their car anymore? You think about it a lot and try to intervene.

One night, a while ago, I was a passenger in my dad’s car at night. We only had a few miles to drive. We were driving on local roads, no highways, with a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour. Since it was night, I tried to wrestle the keys from dad but he was the patriarch and he assured me he could drive. So Dad, his wife and I traveled the 20 minutes home with me sitting in the back seat, my eyes glued to the road. I thought, “This will be okay.” and then the conversation in the car became concerning.

Dad: “It sure is dark.
Me (looking outside at the night sky): “It sure is.”
Dad: “It really, really is dark.”
Me: “Dad, do you want me to drive?”
Dad: “No, I’m okay.”
Me gripping the front seat: “Dad, I can drive if you want.”
Dad: “I’m fine. But it really is dark tonight.”

As we continued on, I noticed we were not always driving within our lane. I tried to gently guide him back to our side of the road as my knuckles gripped the seat cushions.

Me: “Dad, you are swerving a little.”
Dad: “It really is dark. I can’t see the road.”

What? It isn’t that dark.

Me: “Dad, you are doing fine. Just adjust a little to the right and we will be back in our lane. Very good. You know, I would be happy to drive.”
Dad: “No, I am fine. But it sure is dark tonight.”

Dad’s wife was the silent sphinx in the car. Evidently, she was used to this type of situation. I barely survived the drive. When their home came into view I almost screamed with joy. As we pulled into the garage I breathed a sigh of relief. Dad parked the car and turned back to look at me and that is when I noticed he was wearing his sunglasses.

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25 thoughts on “It Sure Is Dark”

  1. That is frightening. I am happy you made it alright. It is hard when you have to take over as the caregiver for your parents. It is time to sit down and have an open discussion about how scared you were. It was not until after my mother had an accident (no one injured) that we were able to convince her to hand over her keys permanently. Be gentle yet firm. it is time.

    1. We finally did have the discussion and while dad still had his license, he eventually gave up driving. It is a very difficult conversation and it takes some fortitude to gently but firmly help a parent give up that independence.

    1. I should add, though, on a serious note, that it’s a difficult situation. When my father finally had to give up driving, he said he didn’t feel like a man anymore. It’s a little heartbreaking.

      1. Same with my dad. When he gave up driving he reconciled it with the fact that he was doing it for us. What trust! He felt that he was able to still drive but let us have our way. To me, that was being the best man in the world.

  2. I was veering between worrying about you, your dad, his wife and everyone on the road when I saw your last comment above. Glad to know he is not driving anymore. Now I can just enjoy your funny story!

  3. OMG! Sunglasses???? Good gravy!

    My Mom still drives but when I’m with her she “lets” me drive, which is fine with me. My uncle recently crashed his truck into a tire shop and pinned a guy up against the wall (he was trying to park). He blames the tire shop; the cops were involved, he has a temporary permit and a court date. It’s a real game-changer for he lives on the farm and his wife doesn’t drive. Bottom line? It’s time .. and we’re all dreading what’s next!

    MJ

    1. Wow, what a story. I always wanted dad to live in those communities where you drive an electric golf cart. Somehow they seem safer than cars but I have no clue if there have been accidents with them. Hope your uncle and aunt can move forward safely.

      1. Unfortunately, there can be accidents, but that would likely involve kids horsing around. If the speed is low enough (I think a governor can be put on them to limit the top speed) and if they follow the same basic road rules (buckle-up, etc.), they should be very safe…and enjoyable.

  4. My this brought memories. I was the lucky kid who got “chosen” to tell Dad, no more driving. I was in the car with him when he suddenly did an expected u-turn at high speed, for no apparent reason. It was heartbreaking indeed. I told him that he might not be concerned for his own safety, but that he had to consider others. Kind of guilt tripped him I guess, but, it worked.

  5. Oh my gosh….I can’t stop chuckling! Such a typical “dad” story! He was quite the man…almost made me go into premature labor from laughing!

  6. Hahaha, I was thinking as I read this post, oh, what would I have said, how would I deal with this sensitive, situation, when I came to “he had his sunglasses on” I burst right out laughing, and startled the dogs! Still smiling. I thank you for that!

    Jess

  7. My parents aren’t like that already. They’re in their early and mid 60s and very fit (mentally and physically – thank goodness). But I know this situation will be coming, and I’ll have to take care of them (because I’m an only child). I really, really want to, because I want to give them back something, they’ve done so much for me. I live a couple 100 miles away, though, and I don’t have a driving licence. I shall get one until then. But I’d also have to get my parents closer to me. I want to go or an academic career, and that doesn’t always allow you to choose where you are. I really have to see how this situation develops. For now, the situation is fine as it is, but it will have to be reconsidered in a couple of years latest.

  8. My husband’s dad has so many of these moments I could fill an entire blog with them and he insists on driving a big four wheel drive truck that he can barely see over the steering wheel. Scary.

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