My brother was here all week and before the end of Day One, we had a theme for his visit. Finding the intersection of Right and Kind on the Avenue of Life.
After a long absence, my older and only sibling has made two visits to my father's home. The first, one day after the event that has given us the newest challenge since our mother's death, and this, the latest, a longer stay, intended to give me a break from my "duties" and to spend more time with Dad.
The event, well, let's just say that Dad was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it all turned out without bodily harm to anyone. Long story short, he was headed to a doctor visit, a location he hasn't been to in a while, and he as he puts it "made one mistake". Apparently, he was fully engaged in hurrying down a fairly busy street in his car, in the wrong direction. Just one tiny"mistake" that, he argues, could have happened to any one of us. One tiny mistake in judgement that resulted in his being found in a state of disorientation and confusion. I found him not quite as disoriented but nonetheless, confused, in a bed in the Emergency Department of our local hospital. He had absolutely no idea why he was there and just wanted to "get the hell" out of there so he could go home. My husband, the dearest man in the whole world, took over the job of calling the police officer who had made sure Dad got to the hospital and made sure his drivers license did not. Joe got the car out of impoundment and before you could say "this is going to be a huge problem", we were back at his house. And, yes, this is a HUGE problem and yes, Dad has turned into Daddy Dearest minus the wire hangers, and yes, there is no end in sight.
The very next morning, a gentleman from the D.O.T. rang the bell at the confused resident's house and handed him the official notice, telling him that his license, apparently his most prized possession (likes it better than he does his kids), has been revoked due to his medical condition at the time he was stopped from almost killing people. That, and the discussion my husband had with the officer and I with the hospital social worker, was to put a stop to any further thoughts of ever driving again and hopefully, to accepting hired help for whatever driving would be required by an almost 95 year old who never wants to go anywhere when you invite him in the first place. But, here's the clinker....the statement from the D.O.T. advises the distraught holder that there is an appeal process, one that would be a ringer for a young person with a whole life of driving needs at stake. It says that one must first go to the D.M.V., get on a very long line for those who are seeking a "hearing" and other assorted problems, and then wait another very long time to be called. This sure would take no fewer than three hours on a good day. The document also goes on to state that after this hearing, the guilty party would then be entitled to a fuller hearing that would be scheduled approximately three months after the request, and would be held at a location that, on a good day, would take one to two hours to reach. Finally, the word "attorney" appears. Now, my father may get confused, he may suffer from some degree of dementia, he may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he is a retired law enforcement officer, one of New York's Finest, and he can still read. The part of his brain that functions went of hyper-vigilance and he started demanding his rights, telling me that I had to do something to help him. We thought we were "helping" when we took his keys when he wasn't looking. No way, it was give those keys back or else.....else what? He wasn't going to be nice to me?Didn't really matter anyway, his tire was flat. He has the keys. I have a hard time with people disliking me.
So, our discussions centered largely on Dad. We know what's right and we know what's wrong. We were properly raised and educated by the very same person who is our current nemesis. We understand. We also know that it is wrong to "lie" but geesh, we spend an awful lot of our time dreaming up what I now so glibly spew forth as "fibs". Tables turn. They "fibbed" to us when It we were kids. Remember the Easter Bunny? Santa? Tooth Fairy? "The radio is broken!" "That is an UNforgivable sin." The list is a lot longer than the list of our little lapses from the path of total truth. They did it to be "kind" and now, it's our turn.
So, we're still adrift. Not sure on which shore we will eventually land. We teeter-totter on that decision and we keep running it all by each other. Shall we tell him that NO, there will not be a reversal of the revocation of his license. That would be oh, so right. He won't accept it. I tell him that the problem is his, that he lost it on his own. That we had nothing to do with it. That we allowed him to hold one of the last vestiges of his independence, and he blew it. That also is so right. We make the right assumption, along with everyone else who observed his behavior and lack of judgement on the day of the "event" and we base our affirmations on his disorientation and mental confusion at the time. We count our blessings that there weren't any injuries, especially to innocent people who trusted him and us to help keep them safe. All of this, both my brother and I have reviewed, over and over with him, in the kindest of ways. We found that intersection, we crossed the paths of right and kind. We exhausted ourselves and the entire topic, times over. He still doesn't seem to understand. Right? Kind? It does not matter. He wants his license back.
My final discussion with him, the one which he began with "Do you know any lawyers?", got Hell-bent on being right, kindness, be damned. The only words I could find came from somewhere deep within, something I had not even prepared no less given much thought about, ever. I dug down and came up with the kindest summation of the problem. I'm not sure that it was kind to lay this on him but I do know that it is right, as correct as it could be.
You see, Dad.....the problem is this....you wanted to live a long life. You are so proud of your longevity and you actually think that you will be the first of God's creations to beat death. You are confident that you will live to at least 100. But, Dad, there are concessions. Between becoming old and very, very old, things have got to change. If you want to stay in the game, you must change with them. You cannot expect everything to be the same in your nineties as it was in your sixties. So if you truly enjoy living this long, you have to accept the fact that one of the things that will not be in your "new" life is a license to drive. You, and all of the others who are clawing their way toward that prized 100 year old status. So, I'm being kind here when I remind you that you made the choice. I know I'm being right in saying "you can't have everything". Sorry Dad.