Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dad Needed an Intervention - Not An Investigation

So my dad has finally reached that age, unvoluntarily... very unvoluntarily I might add, where he must give up the simple pleasures of youth and succomb to the wisdom and peace of growing old and also allow his children to guide him through various changes in his life now.

"Time to hand in your car keys grandpa!"

Seriously, my father and driving do not mix - not one single bit - since he is soon approaching 80 and he simply refuses to get his eyes checked. No! I do not understand WHY my father refuses to get his eyes rechecked and his glasses updated.

My mom says it has to do with money, I say it has to do with turning 80 and being in denial.

Nevertheless, my brother and I were discussing my recent visit to their house and my noticing that my dad could not identify a large stinking can of Campbell's Soup either 2 feet from his face, 4 feet from his face, or 6 feet from his face. He also couldn't identify the change in his hand, so I had to take the correct amount of coins to pay for the groceries he had just purchased. I may I add, that I picked out cause he couldn't see what he was buying at the grocery store!

Since he can't see the can of soup, nor the coins in his hand at ANY distance, this worried me and the fact that he was the sole driver in my parents moldy house of two. It's another story - their moving though, so I'll tell you about it then and it will be good cause it involves an antique piano and who wants to move the 3000 pound behemoth.

But this is the man who nonchalantly tells my mother as their driving to Wal-Mart's for their weekly groceries, "Nancy - will you tell me what the traffic light color is before we get to it, and by the way, let me know if a dog or human is crossing the road while you're at it?"

AAUUGGHH!! My dad is a car accident waiting to happen! He has become THAT person we drivers fear the most: the vision-challenged geriatric driver who mauls us over because losing his independence via his car keys may in fact be far worse than the fact that he can't see whether it's milk or buttermilk he's adding to his morning java fix! It might quite actually be worse to him than being hooked up to a permanent colostomy bag for the duration of his life! But that's another story as well because my father has absolutely refused to see a doctor about any condition since.... since.... man landed on the moon!

So I contact my brother and explain my observations over the past week to him and we both decide it's time for us to "step in" **insert loud vocal echo here**! As we talk we realized that it's time for an......


***Insert really loud echo-y type voice here***

We come to the conclusion that it's time to both visit my parents, corner dad, and force him to hand over his car keys before he and mom are permanently implanted in a nearby tree or telephone pole cause he can't tell whether it's a cat or a semi crossing the road. We also decide that it's time to sell the archaic 1989 blue Mustang that should be retired right along with that computer of his that takes a hour to download a blank white web page!

The question is how to do this without my father going into such a fit (and that man has nothing over a two year old when it comes to temper tantrums!), that they neighbors think that we're conducting nothing short of a live wrestling match in their living room.


"NoooooooooWWW LADies AND GENTLEmen!!

ToNIGHT we have GRRRRANDPA in one corner AAAND the DUELING SIBLINGS in the other corner!"

**Suddenly the fighting begins - and the crowd goes wild**

"Look at them go at it Ladies and Gentlemen. The Dueling Siblings have got a fight on their hands tonight. Looks like Grandpa is NOT gonna give up the keys quite so easily."

"OH MY GOD!! Grandpa just hooked one of the siblings with an antique glider rocking chair folks. Boy that doesn't look pretty."

"OOOH - One of the siblings just shoved a iPhone in Grandpa's nose. Boy that's gotta hurt!"

"Wait... wait.... It looks like the Dueling Siblings are gaining some ground here. Yes... yes, they've taken Grandpa's Police Scanner and their holding it hostage. Not Grandpa's Police Scanner - boy that's low Ladies and Gentlemen."

"Yes folks, we've got a real battle going on here. Car keys versus the Police Scanner now!"

"We think it's safe to say that the Police Scanner is winning out; Grandpa is chasing them around the ring - yes folks, he has tossed the car keys into the middle of the ring."

"This match is over - The Dueling Siblings Win the Match!"

**applause - crowd goes wild **

Grandpa slumps into his recliner feeling very defeated and very sweaty.

So you get the picture - an intervention with my father is not going to be pretty, but my brother has volunteered to do the dirty work and go down and confront him first. All my prayers are with him as I hope he has his will up to date.

Meanwhile, I get the brilliant idea of bringing my husband into the picture. I explain my observations and my brother and mine's concern and make the fatal mistake of saying:

"Honey, how would you handle this situation?"

"GIve me a few days to think about it.", he replies in ultra authoritarian, pump out his chest, "I'll save the day" voice of his.

A couple of days go by and I ask him again. Same response: "Give me a few more days."

So I talk with my brother this morning after he has made an impromptu visit to my parents house and made his own observations.

"So, did you see what I saw?", I concernedly inquire.

"Yep, and it's clear we need to step it here.", he replies.

"So.... how did it go with dad when you brought up the subject of selling the car and taking his keys?", I more hesitantly ask.

"He's all for it!", he says back.

"Really!", I shout while feeling quite a bit stunned and maybe a bit silly for overreacting, and very relieved.

"He wants to sell the Mustang as soon as we can and move out of here and near me.", my brother continues.

So it's settled; dad is giving up the car keys, my parents are moving from their old musty house, so the initial problem is solved. But I did ask if we could maybe take the proceeds from the car and get him a more updated computer and my brother responded with a big "AMEN", on that one.

I'm feeling a bit farklempt a this point.

Sooooo, my husband gets home and I mention about my father again and before I even finish, he announces that he has it all figured out.

"Uh, what do you think we should do?", I ask (not mentioning that my brother already took care of it). I really want to hear what he's come up with though.

"Well, I called Marianne and the State Patrol and they're gonna take care of it.", he says while stuffing a spicy chicken sandwich in his mouth in an effort to rush through lunch, this conversation, and get back to work.

"WHAT!!", I literally scream at him. "Why in God's name did involve Marianne in this? She lives in Alabama - what can Alabama do? This is personal family manner and YOU call Marianne!"

"Not Marianne - Marianna. The town of Marianna", he half chokes and half laughs the words back at me.

I'm sorry, but the chunk of chicken in his the back corner of his mouth made his response somewhat inaudible, but it nearly left me half-dead on the floor with a major heart attack at that moment! My husband is suggesting sending in the police to investigate whether he is able to drive or not. I already know he can't see to drive - I don't need the police to come and humiliate him further on this subject!

"The Marianna State Patrol is just waiting for the word from to send a 'complaint' to your father about his driving, so as to 'force' him to take a driving test or turn in his driver's license.", he continues.


Why didn't he just call out the National Guard on my father, or have him arrested for impersonating.... something.

I've just lost words for this cause I was just so pissed off at the suggestion of cornering my father with the State Patrol over his aging eyesight. Where the hell is my husbands couth??

LUCKILY, none of my husbands "intervention" was necessary. My father seemed to be glad that someone was finally willing to take over the reigns of his life at this point. He had been making all the decisions all these years, and was completely open to the concept that his children were now going to step in and parent him now. Instead of a wrestling match over his independence and car keys, he quietly handed over his scepter and crown to the next generation.

But let me make it perfectly clear here: I will gladly escort he and my mother around their new environment on a golf cart if he wishes it, but I draw the line at laundering his stinking royal boxer shorts!


Stacey said...

Kudos to you and your brother for helping your mom and dad. As for your hubby... I'd have been pretty angry too! What was he thinking?! LOL!

Tara R. said...

My mom finally had to step in with my granddad's driving when he had a grand mal seizure. Still didn't think he needed to give up driving.

It's hard to give up that last piece of independence. I'm glad it was a mutual agreement with your dad.

Sara Elizabeth Bonds said...

I think it is AWESOME that you care and are making sure he does the right thing.

My Grandpa, my Dad's dad, has no business driving anymore. It's a battle to get him to stop driving. He has step children, my Dad's step sister in particular, that for some reason make him think he can still drive. My Dad works VERY hard to get my Grandpa to stop driving. After reading your post, I am wondering if there isn't more we can do.

Gondooo said...

I tell you what, I will never get in the car with my Dad when he insists on driving after dark! When he picked me up at the airport last year, he drove to a small town with a hotel just outside of Atlanta, it was dark upon arrival and next thing I knew we were driving over the grass kurb to get into the car park, he thought that was a driveway! I suppose if you can't find one then make one! I am remembering to arrive during daylight hours this time.