“But mom, I’d be glad to take you to the hairdresser. You don’t have to drive.” She just does not understand. I like it when she takes me places, but I want my car, right there, for me. It is my independence, and it’s important to me to always have that option, to see it, even if I don’t drive very often. Why doesn’t she understand?
It is my belief, as a baby boomer myself, that our vehicles are much more than a means of transportation to us. When we got our licenses, the world immediately expanded! We grew up with the car – it was only in the 1950’s that cars were affordable and available to most families in the US, so we were the first generation to use the motor vehicle as our means of social networking. We did not have cell phones or the internet to connect with our friends, our teams or our schools. We had to drive to meet at the local hangout, go to the bonfire pep rally, or meet at the lake, quarry or beach. Remember the Sunday drives? Drive-in theaters? Drive-up ice cream shops? Today, our children and grandchildren connect with the world through technology: the internet and their cell phone, which is almost a part of their body. While we cannot put our cars in our back pocket, they are just as important to us. Our cars have been part of who we are. We all remember our first car, right?
This is important for others to understand. It may be helpful to explain this to the daughter, son or family member who wants to take that symbol of independence away. However, there will be a time when we need to let go. It could be now or many years from now. Regardless, you must plan – plan as you would for retiring from a job that has defined you over the last 30, 40 or 50 years. Or as you have helped plan for your children’s college education, marriage and adult life. Just remember, while you might let go of the car and driving – you do not need to let go of life! Plan for the road ahead. Use these tools and the help of family and friends to find a new way to maintain the social network of your life in the years to come!
Dr. Anne Dickerson