THIS is When you Know it's Time for your Father to Stop Driving

by CrafDee
(Western Australia)

My Mum and Dad strove hard to keep their independence. We live in Western Australia and public transport is not fabulous, but they did use it when they had to go into the city. For the last four or five years, I (or my sister when she was "up" from her property 400km away) have taken them when they needed to go anywhere that wasn't "local"... as in within 5km of home.

In June this year my Dad was passed to drive by his doctor.... this is the doctor that my Mum and Dad have had a very friendly relationship with for years, my Mum could be very persuasive.

We had observed Dad having difficulty locating the button for the electric windows and such, but I drove with him after the Doctor said he was okay and found that he could "do the basics" really quite well, judging traffic and so on.

He drove a bus for a living for many years and it seemed second nature.... actually getting anywhere was not so easy for him though, he had no sense of direction or spatial awareness, which worried us a little... it was decided that, as the Doctor had passed him as fit he would be "allowed" to drive in their local area provided my Mum was with him.

On the 22nd July, he went out and started the car while Mum locked the house up - the usual routine. As Mum went to get into the passenger seat the car moved back: my Dad doesn't remember what happened, why he had it in reverse - he didn't hear her say she was getting in... whatever.

The car door hit her very lightly, but as she weighed only 40Kg or less than 6 stone she fell backwards without defending her fall and hit her head on the driveway. She died of her injuries the next day.

This has torn our family to shreds; the guilt we feel that they felt the need to keep driving so as not to inconvenience us (they were always full of apologies and gratitude when we took them anywhere, acknowledging the disruption this caused to our busy working lives)... but I would give ANYTHING to be able to have my life disrupted now by a doctor's appointment for Mum rather than the arrangements we are now having to make for Dad.

It has blown his last brain cell and he can no longer live alone, can't be left alone for even half an hour, we cannot grieve for Mum, Dad and his care is consuming our lives.

The only "good" thing in this awful scenario is that the only family devastated by Dad driving when clearly past his "use by" date is ours... if they had got to the shopping centre they were headed to, he could easily have run into a small child and two families would be suffering; that family for their loss and ours for the guilt of letting him drive when we KNEW in our heart of hearts that he wasn't really up to it.

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