Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Driving, Ms. Sassy

I have several elderly neighbors living round me. One is 85 and totally together. She has a pacemaker and is taking Coumadin but doesn't let it slow her down. She is very active in her church and a big reader - we trade books. I loan her the saucy ones, like The Other Boleyn Girl. She loans me the intellectual ones, 1776 and From Palestine to Peace. I haven't read either. Yet. But this isn't about her.

There is an elderly couple that lives on my street. A long retired social worker, she is sassy and stubborn. Retired from the CIA, he has enchanted us on several occasions with his beautiful rendition of some German song he learned long ago, but now is vacant and obedient. We love them - my family and our neighbors. A couple of years ago, their old-lady-ride Oldsmobile bit the dust and she bought a VW Passat. I'm not sure of her reasoning but she sure differentiates herself from other old ladies in our town. If one ever comes up on an Oldsmobile in this town, it is a safe bet there is a perfectly quoiffed older lady behind the wheel.

She shouldn't be driving. Not only because her diminutive stature impedes her view over the steering wheel, but because she doesn't have the metal facilities to operate a vehicle safely. One such indication is that she has repeatedly told different neighbors that her mother is visiting and driving her crazy. Of course, Mom is dead. On Sunday, she backed out of her driveway and hit a car parked on the street curb. Not a big deal. Except she left the scene. She was headed to Ingles to buy something for our neighborhood block party. She showed but didn't know any of us. She became agitated with me, called me rude and said I shouldn't speak with strangers like that. Sigh. We were all alarmed and saddened by her diminished mental state. I vowed to call her daughter who lives in another state.

However, last Spring, three neighbors, including me and my other elderly neighbor, separately called her daughter to express our concern. She dismissed it. She has been trying to get them to move to a retirement community in her home town but without success so she said she would get them some "help". I haven't seen any evidence of help, but even so, she shouldn't be driving. Many neighbors have witnessed her erratic driving on Merrimon Ave.

Yesterday, instead of calling her daughter again and waiting another six months for "help" to appear, I called Adult Social Services. I spoke with the agent for over an hour reporting what I know, which apparently isn't much; there were many questions I couldn't answer, filling me with doubt about my judgement. But earlier today I saw the County issued vehicle parked in their driveway. My guilt and sadness for subjecting her to the indignity of social services questioning her ability to care for herself and her husband is tempered by relief that maybe soon she will cease driving and the roads will be a little safer.

1 comment:

Rio said...

you did the right thing - not easy, but someone needed to do it