It was an awful moment but I have to say, he handled it with grace and resignation. He knew that it was getting to the point where he might hurt himself or, worse for my Dad, someone else. That is a scenario from which he would never recover.
I don’t know if I have mentioned this, but my Dad is the kindest guy. Empathy, tenderness, and kindness just burst out of him.
So, he relented. And today we are donating his car, a 1990 Buick, to my old high school for its Auto Shop program. He loved this idea as it was killing him to think that the car would go right to the scrap-yard. After all, said he, “It’s not the car’s fault. It’s still running great.” It has a bit of rust, but as Dad pointed out, don’t we all? It still runs like a charm, so we are going to drive it up to the school this morning and drop it off. Dad is coming with us to see it safely inside the shop and to say his goodbyes.
I can totally relate to that, as I have stood weeping over every car I have ever let go. I weep grateful tears over the car that has kept me safe, the car that has witnessed all the little stories the boy has imparted on our drives to school, the car that has accompanied us to parties and funerals and concerts and road trips.
So I know what Dad is feeling today. His car was his business partner for many years so the miles and successes and failures of every venture are wrapped up in those four wheels and a chassis.
But more than that, Dad is giving up his independence. No more shall he jump in the car on a whim and take off for destinations unknown.
It is a huge shift in our lives too, as they are now dependent on us for everything: food, meds, dry cleaning, appointments, and the like.
We have made our peace with that. I knew on the day I told him it was time to stop driving, that our lives would go into a tailspin of constant chore activity. We are still adjusting to it. We are into the everyday of it right now, remembering to ask Mum and Dad every time we go out what is wanted and what is needed. We are settling into it quite well, I have to say.
But his is the greater task. He and my Mom are trying to overcome their biggest trial. They are trying to push past the guilt of us doing every single thing for them. When I went over yesterday to deliver the new version of the wrong pens I had bought for them, they were both crying about the situation. I try to remind them that it is our honour and pleasure to help them out. I remind them of the years that they schlepped me around and did for me, came for me and went for me. I remind them of how they took us in when we came back from L.A. and turned their lives upside down to make room for us. And they know. But still. I know what they are going through. They are trying to maintain their status as the parents as we struggle in this role-reversal tug of war. I get it. And there by the grace of God...