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.