All a-dither

I knew my parents were getting older.  But every once in a while, something beyond the greying hair and the slowed pace imposed by arthritis takes me aback.  Yesterday, it was my dad’s increasing dithering.   He’d asked me to lend him my car, since his own was in the shop and he’s got a drive to work that doesn’t allow for taking the T, like me.  I was glad to, and drove over.  I was perfectly happy for him to drive me to the local train station– it’s on the same line as the one I live near, and it wouldn’t have taken me any more time to get home than if he’d driven me all the way back home, while saving him the extra half hour returning.  I guess it’s a generational thing– the car is always the preferred method of transportation for him, and I honestly don’t mind the public transit system.  It’s quiet time for me to read, or write, to observe, or to just be alone with my thoughts.

But he insisted on driving me home.  And I knew it was a somewhat good idea, since he rarely drives my car, and might have questions.  I was ready to scream, though, by the second stoplight.  He drives a stick, and I have an automatic, so he kept putting it in neutral or park, and then getting confused when the car wouldn’t roll forward as he took his foot off the brake.  (Don’t even get me going on the way he drives his stick.)  The ride home was quite a trip.  He almost ran a red light, fumbling with the overhead visor, and downshifted the car needlessly several more times.  I snapped at him once or twice, feeling bad, but I couldn’t really help myself.  When we got back to my place, he wanted help with putting cash on his Charlie card (the transit system ticket card), which engendered some more dithering and my getting impatient and taking it away from him.

I felt awful after he left.  It really wasn’t a big deal, he’d wanted to do the nice thing and drive me home, and had wanted to spend the time with me in the car.  I realized that part of my impatience was due to my own discomfort with this sign of age on his part.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s still totally with it.  But the absentmindedness can’t be chalked up just to not enough blood pressure medication.

So now, I’m working on shoring up my patience, as well as my heart, since time will go on.


17 thoughts on “All a-dither

  1. Janet

    omg, that’s exactly it! You put into words what I’ve been feeling: “I realized that part of my impatience was due to my own discomfort with this sign of age on his part.” I feel so bad when I yell at Dad or when I pretend to listen to him (he talks really softly, it’s one of the lovely symptoms of Parkinson’s) and I keep saying I won’t do it anymore, but … I do. And I dislike myself for it. Gah!

  2. Jenn @ Juggling Life

    I would think it would be especially hard in a car when being totally with it is pretty much required. It was probably like the stress of driving with your teenager when they have their learner’s permit.

  3. Cheri @ Blog This Mom!

    You always seem to post something relevant and timely to an issue I’m pondering in my own life. How does this happen? Anyway, I appreciate the food for thought. Especially because when it comes from you, the food for thought is both rich and calorie-free.

    Cheri @ Blog This Mom!s last blog post..deception

  4. thordora

    I am SOOOOO glad my Dad stopped driving before we had to make him. 🙂

    And he’s ALWAYS dithered. He was 40 when I was born, so he’s always been a crankpot old man. Difference is that now at 70, he doesn’t care. I’m not looking forward to the possibility of dealing with any type of regressions though…ick.

  5. Vallen

    The whole taking care of parent thing is really something that should have been addressed in our education some where, you know? Your patience is exemplary, my dear. I would not have been that good.

    Vallens last blog post..Hats Off

  6. Little Miss Sunshine State

    I spent time in MA with my Mom (she’s 73) in May and again in June. Her driving scares the crap out of me. She drives as if she’s the only one on the road. Who needs stinkin’ driving rules? Her defense is that she’s been driving 50 years and never had an accident. Thank God for other attentive drivers!The last time I let her drive we got into fight.

    I only see her about once a month, but every time it seems as if she has aged a year.

    Little Miss Sunshine States last blog post..8 Things About 4 Things About Me

  7. dee

    Thanks for gearing me up for the trip to visit my dad this Thursday. (gear me up, gear me down)

    While Dad is still fine behind the wheel, he is hard to spend more than a few hours with at a time as the stories start looping on repeat over and over. He forgets he’s told a certain story and will tell the whole thing again in an hour or so.

    I sit and act all animated with each retelling because it’s just too depressing to call him out on it. Yes, patience is the key.

  8. Bishops wife

    Geepers!!! He sounds like how my dad was.

    I loved my dad…I miss my dad. I wish he were still here.
    I would give anything for those wild rides and slamming brakes and jolting and tailgating and being thankful to make it home alive!!! and that was when we were flying in one of his airplanes!

    So funny…thanks for the memories.
    (I made the Deans list at school. He would have been so proud. Do lawyers need to be good typists?)

    Bishops wifes last blog post..LITTLE GENTLEMEN

  9. g

    My dad passed in 2002, and I see my mom infrequently – she lives in a distant city. whenever I do see her, though, I am struck at how she’s aged. And its not just her physical aging – it’s her mental-emotional withdrawal from the world. she won’t travel; she’s withdrawn from most of her activities; she has very few friends in the town she live in. And no, she won’t consider moving or traveling to see us, or my siblings.

    We all visit her when we can. Last time I visited I noticed that, while previously, she was reluctant to leave the city limits of her town, now she is reluctant to venture beyond a few blocks from home. And not just driving herself – she is reluctant to be driven by someone else to a location outside of her slowly tightening orbit.

    It saddens me. But she is her own person, and this is what she seems to want.

    gs last blog post..Chaparral Chateaux

  10. Minnesota Matron

    It gets harder and harder. Patience and compassion is all we have, and what we want mirrored back for ourselves, today and twenty years forward.

    Timely post. Tomorrow I start the hospital watch with my stepmother and 82 year old stepfather, who is in intensive care for dehydration — and, just found out, a huge liver tumor. Perspective.

    Minnesota Matrons last blog post..Not That She’s a Blazing Leftie

  11. Tara

    Just be glad he isn’t diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. My Dad just got the official diagnosis. He is only 71 and in great physical condition, it’s just his mind is starting to slip. He is paranoid and spends many sleepless nights wondering about neighbours etc. My poor Mom is exhausted already with his behaviours. The whole family has to now rally around this incurable disease. Not much to look forward to at all.

    So….just be happy he’s only absent-minded, it could be a lot worse.

  12. Cynthia

    it’s so hard… hard….to bite one’s tongue and not be impatient. I wish I could take back some of the times I snapped at my father….or still do when I get impatient with my mother….

    Aging is not for the weak.

  13. nyjlm

    the last time we were at my il’s we really noticed them getting older. My mil refuses to believe she has a hearing problem. My fil had a stroke early in the year. They were talking to each other yet they were not in the same conversation. It is so hard to see.

    nyjlms last blog post..a local treasure

  14. Grandy

    I understand your exasperation. My mother scares me when she drives, and isn’t that old (or at least I won’t let myself think she is). I would have reacted the same way.

    Grandys last blog post..The Crue Review

  15. Rosa

    It’s always difficult watching our parents age. And, it’s also difficult to be patient with them. But the patience comes in time. My mom is now 84 with dementia (and lives with us) and I have the patience of a saint (most days). And I can tell you honestly, I wasn’t always so. It’s just like anything else, you learn to do it. Best wishes!

    Rosas last blog post..The Invitation


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