Sunday, February 2, 2014

Seniors, Drivers' Licenses & The Dread Bureau of Motor Vehicles

I can remember when my parents and my grandparents hit the wall, so to speak, with the dread Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  There is nothing a senior hates giving up more than his or her driver's license. All of my relatives were in their 80s or even past 90 when this occurred.  So you can imagine the terror which struck us when it happened to us in our 60s instead. I have written about this in prior entries but a brief recap is necessary: cortisone injections into my knees caused utter havoc with my vision this past summer plus retinal scarring on my right eye was discovered making me legally blind in it. I am still recovering from retinal surgery. Three weeks after discovering all of this, I had to renew my driver's license. Jim's mother had also just died so the tension could not have been any worse.

Driving a car means freedom in America.  That is why "road trip" movies are so popular. "Easy Rider" released in 1969 was the road trip movie of our generation. In 2014, Dennis is gone, dying of cancer a few years ago. Jack is no longer driving according to the tabloids. Peter is hidden away hermit style in Hawaii. Can we be far behind?

Perhaps you think I attempted this alone and that there was no pestering presence next to me throughout this ordeal? Then you did not read that we were christened the Odd Couple and that Jim is the ever nagging, fussing Felix to my Oscar.  So as I stood at the DMV counter, "Felix" was right beside me, girded to do battle with the DMV. Before you swoon with misplaced romance notions, he was not dreading my loss of freedom, he was dreading his since he would have to drive me everywhere.

As it turns out, I was glad he was there.  Because I was ready to throw in the towel but he and the BMV manager kept at it, testing me all different ways and encouraging me to keep trying.  Finally, I passed for daylight driving only. If I retake the test at some future date, I might pass the whole thing. However, I am in no hurry to repeat this ordeal.

Then, Jim went for an exam and found out that not only did he have cataracts but that the eye doctor (at our same high tech Eye Center) would not even give him a standard eye exam until he had cataract surgery. Last month I had to go with him to renew his license, not for support, but to drive him home in case he flunked.  No one wanted him to pass the test more than I did because he is the worst back seat driver imaginable.  Driving him everywhere is something I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Let me state now that there is no justice in the world. For not only did he pass but he passed without glasses so has no restrictions on his license. Now he can just drive me crazy fussing about his cataract surgery instead for he has never had an operation of any sort.

So for the moment we are both still driving. But I remember the scenarios with our own elders all too well and, if we live long enough, the BMV, just like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, will loom before us yet again. Before that occurs, I've already seen the next vehicle in my future.  Seniors in the adjacent national park are already riding them, to wit: the adult tricycle. Bring it on.....

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