Andrea studied for years to become a registered nurse. After several years of experience, she received a promotion at the hospital. Still a young lady she planned to celebrate her promotion by spending the weekend with her grandmother.
She got off work at midnight and pulled her car onto the interstate highway for the short drive. Though it was late, her grandmother sat up awaiting her arrival. She followed a safe distance behind a tractor-trailer truck on the dry pavement. The semi was traveling slower than the speed limit, but Andrea wasn’t one to speed.
Without warning, the truck swerved to the left lane, and Andrea faced two oncoming headlights. Before she could react, she crashed into the oncoming car.
Andrea’s grandmother, my aunt, waited until the early hours of the morning for her granddaughter. Before dawn, her father received the call all parents fear.
The next morning, I received a call from my cousin who informed me his oldest daughter was dead. My first question, trying to wrap my head around the news, was HOW? I learned the driver of the other car had Alzheimer’s Disease. He was going the wrong way on the interstate, and he survived the accident.
Herodotus said, “Death is a delightful hiding place for weary men.”
It might be a delightful place for weary old men, but it’s not a place for active young people. I wondered why the wrong-way driver with such a bleak and short future hadn’t died — not Andrea. If I were God, it’s the choice I’d have made.
His family had restricted his driving, permitting him to drive a few blocks each morning to have coffee with friends. The family kept the car keys in a bowl which he found during the night. They were novices at dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.
I don’t harbor a grudge because I understand how the disease progresses. It’s challenging to know when and how to take away driving privileges. I’m sad for them. It’s not the sadness I feel for our family, but a pity. I’m sure they anguish over their failure.
They deal with an injured father with Alzheimer disease. But they must also deal with the legal and financial repercussions of a fatal accident, too. Auto insurance doesn’t eliminate the cost this family may suffer.
The first symptom of my mother’s disease was when she got lost driving home. She didn’t drive much, so my Dad volunteered to chauffeur her. I remember the time my father called to say he had bad news. He joked, “your mother passed the state driver’s test today.” I didn’t realize how important it was she not drive. He didn’t let her behind the wheel again even though the state said she could. After my father’s passing, I found her driver’s license in her purse. It had expired a few years prior.
It’s estimated, one of every seven people over seventy has dementia. I often see Silver Alerts warning drivers be on the lookout for a missing person. This means a person with dementia is driving, and their family can’t find them. The purpose of a Silver Alert is to locate the missing person. But they need to be found before they kill another driver or passenger. If you are considering taking the keys away from your loved one, I encourage you to err on the side of caution. Make a wise decision.
Proverbs 3:35 NASB- The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.
© Copyright 2018 Ronald Milburn