For as long as I can remember, driving with my dad meant holding on tight and leaning into my brother and sister in the back seat as we careened around turns. He would happily sing and talk from his seat behind the wheel, while racing in and out of traffic to get where we were going as quickly as possible. And during my teenage years, he was guaranteed to offer to drive me to work or school in the snow, just so he could do a few doughnuts in the parking lot on the way. I was a witness to several traffic stops when his clergyman’s collar saved him from a ticket, with the police officer pleading, “Please, Reverend, take it a little slower.” After Dad retired, he became a driver for others in his independent living community, chauffeuring them to doctor’s appointments or important “meetings” at McDonalds. When Dad was driving, he was in his element and it was always an adventure!
Fast forward to today: Dad is now 88 and hasn’t driven since his hip surgery four months ago. To him, this means a dramatic shift in his independence, and a reliance on friends and family that he resists. And while the extended family now either travels to Dad or video-chats with him on Zoom, his life has changed. His world just got smaller.
I’m thinking it’s time – time to get him back out into the world beyond his apartment building. I’m a problem-solver, and this is a new problem to solve. It’s different from getting my own kids on the road and keeping them safe. Dad’s needs in a transportation plan are different than mine; it’s funny how each generation varies in comfort with technology and ridesharing. I’m glad to have a resource. Thanks to Plan for the Road Ahead, I have a place to go to develop a plan WITH my Dad to get him safely back out into the community. Look out, Dad, I’m armed with knowledge and ready to help you take on the world again!
Dr. Lynne Murphy, occupational therapist