Parental Journal 69 from Planet Elderly – Second Attempt to Pass the Driving Test

Thursday, July 7, 2016 – late morning

As I type, I’m waiting for Mom and Kevin to return from her second attempt to pass the driving test.  I’m nervous.

She and Kevin attempted to do this yesterday, but the line was so long they turned around and came home.  Kevin told her they would go this morning around 9:30.

Today she woke up at 6 a.m., got dressed and said Kevin called to go take the test.

“I didn’t hear the phone ring,” I replied. “Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?”

“Well, he did.”

“You’re going at 6 a.m.?  They don’t open until 8.”

“Kevin’s going to take me out to practice first.”

“Oh…okay.”

She had her story and was sticking to it.  I didn’t argue.  She called Kevin and said, “Kevin.  This is Pearl.  I’m up.”  Then she waited.

After a half hour she went next door to see if his door was open.  It wasn’t.  She sat down to wait.

I’d been up since 4:30 a.m., so I decided to take a little nap. After sleeping for about an hour, I came downstairs.  Mom was sitting in a chair…still waiting.

“Maybe it was a dream,” she said.

I cut up some cantaloupe and we snacked.  She was puzzled.  She was also wearing her reading glasses.  Although she has new glasses for driving, she’s gets them mixed up and has to keep asking me, “Are these the right glasses?”  There are pre-cataract surgery and post-cataract surgery glasses scattered about.  Why isn’t there a rule that if you can’t figure out what glasses to wear, you can’t drive?

It was still early and I did not feel rested, so I went upstairs again.  I fell asleep and had a nightmare that woke me up:  Mom and Dad were both driving different cars and meeting somewhere.  I couldn’t believe Dad was allowed to drive with his advanced state of dementia.  Then somehow I was following him as he drove…and it was more like he was “driving” a bicycle…but then he stopped, stood up, and was fiddling with his pants, trying to take them off.  I held on to him and tried to keep his pants up while waiting for Mom to drive by and pick us up, but worried that because of her confusion issues, she would not find us.

Relieved to be just dreaming, I went downstairs.  Mom was still sitting in a chair waiting for Kevin to take her to the testing site.

“I don’t think he wants to take me.  I want you to take me.”

“OK…but I don’t do practice sessions.  I’ll be glad to drive you there and you can take the test.  Just give me five minutes to put myself together.”

I got ready and started walking downstairs when Mom called out, “Jeanette.  Kevin’s here.”  And off they went.

Early Evening

Results:  Failed second attempt.  She was perplexed.  “I thought I did just fine.  I did what she told me to do.”

She wants to do her third attempt tomorrow.  If the weather cooperates, I’ll take her.

We’ve talked about not being able to take the test for a year if she is unable to pass it after three tries.  Her response: “Well, I bet there are lots of people who drive when they’re not supposed to.  I only drive to a few places.”

I sighed…and kept my mouth shut.    Lots to think about and plan for in the event that she is unable to drive.  Things are going to get unpleasant…if not downright ugly.   Just a hunch.

For now… she’s relaxed in front of the TV watching “Alice in Wonderland” on AMC.

About jjmummert

Just another voice in the wilderness from someone who's lived on this planet for over 60 years and faces permanent residency on Planet Elderly. Update: As of March 2, 2017, I turned 70. I'm now an official resident of Planet Elderly. Dad passed away September 22, 2016. I view the Parental Journal entries as part therapy, part family history, sort of a case study of what our family experiences with one parent in a memory care unit, another living independently with short-term memory loss, and me, the only child daughter who lives 400 miles away. It's quite an adventure. Recommended readings for others who have loved ones who live with some form of dementia: The 36-Hour Day, The Myth of Alzheimer's - What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis, Alzheimer's Early Stages.
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