A rather sad week. My father has hung up his driving licence. He has finally decided that it is time for him to stop driving. At the age of 93, I am sure that many will say that he should have stopped driving years ago, that he was a liability on the road, a hazard to other drivers. I disagree.
My father has driven all his life – motorcycles to lorries – he’s driven them all. He taught me to drive, he taught my friends to drive. He’s the safest driver I know. Personally, I think that he could have carried on for another year, but he has made his decision and I have to respect that. At least the decision has been his to make, he has not been told to stop. That would have been harder for him. This way, he has kept control of his life.
So, why do I feel sad? Part of it is that my father is no longer independent; he can’t pop out to the car and go to visit a friend whenever he feels like it. He can’t be spontaneous any more. Now he has to plan, to arrange a lift or a taxi whenever he wants to go anywhere. That is one reason why I feel sad. The other reason – it’s a painful reminder of my own mortality.
Everyone wants their parents to live forever. While our parents are alive, we are still children – children with years of life ahead of us. My mother died nearly eleven years ago, a first hint that life is not never-ending. Now, with my father deciding that he is too old to drive, I am once again reminded of the brevity of life; reminded of the fact that I am approaching a time when I will have to grow up, when I will have to make decisions about my own ability to carry on doing the things that I enjoy doing.
Why do I have to grow up?