"Growing Old Graciously"

I thought yesterday was going to be a pretty tough afternoon for my pops. After work my wife and I took him to DMV to turn in his driver’s license and replace it with a CA Senior ID Card. He hasn’t been behind the wheel of a car since mid October, but after driving for more than 72 years, I was certain that the physical act of turning over his license wasn’t going to be easy. Driving was a major part of his life, it was how he made his living, besides he enjoyed it. I can’t tell you how many miles I logged in the backseat of the car when I was growing up. It seemed like we were always going out on long, leisurely Sunday drives. The man just loved to drive.

Instead of going to the Pomona DMV we went out to the one in Rancho Cucamonga. The Pomona office is much closer but my last experience there was a complete nightmare! There were wall to wall people and lots of closed service windows! I was there on a registration related issue and even though I had an appointment, it still took more than an hour. It was chaos, a model of inefficiency. The Rancho office is much better. They seem to be more organized and things move along very quickly. I know, it’s hard to believe that a state office actually runs efficiently, but they do.

Our appointment was scheduled for 4pm and we arrived about twelve minutes early. By the time I checked in, picked up the proper form,  filled it out and returned it, it was a few minutes to 4pm. The receptionist checked it then handed me my appointment call number. No sooner had I walked over to where my dad was sitting, that our number was called. At exactly 4pm were at the counter being attended to. It was truly incredible! Ten minutes later we were finished and my dad actually got to keep his old license! I’m sure that even when his new ID card arrives he’ll continue to carry his license with him, I know I would. He was also pleased that there was no fee for his new ID. He thought there’d be some sort of charge, but seniors are free! Besides it would add insult to injury if you had to pay to give up your right to drive.

All in all he handled the whole thing pretty well. I shouldn’t have worried. He looked a little down while we were at the counter, but that quickly passed, yeah he did remarkably well. I think the whole idea of giving up his license probably bothered me more than it did him. He knew that it was time and accepted it. I only hope that when the time comes for me to stop driving I can do so as graciously as him. Right now I have this image of my two boys pulling a kicking and screaming old geezer out from behind the wheel and pretty much forcing me to surrender my license. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

After we left DMV dad suggested that we stop and get something to eat. For some odd reason a meatball sandwich sounded tasty so I was headed over to Vince’s Spaghetti. Then  he and my wife got to talking about eateries and my dad began reminiscing about the good old days when he used to go down to Norm’s in San Gabriel and how he and his lady friend would sometimes go to the new Norm’s in Covina, Well, there’s another new Norm’s in Montclair that my dad had never been too, so my wife suggested we go there instead. My dad was in heaven. I think he enjoys eating as much as he likes to drive!

We really enjoyed watching him chow down. He took his time and really enjoyed his meal. But the highlight was dessert. When they brought him his chocolate sundae he lit up and dug right in, savoring every bite! It was like watching a little kid! When we were ready to leave he reached for the check but I beat him to it! He insisted that he wanted to pay. My wife and I were having none of that, we were paying and that was that. He still wasn’t too pleased about not paying the bill so I finally made a deal with him, I would get it this time and he could get it the next time. He was agreeable to that. Of course I told him that next time we were going to some really fancy restaurant high on a hill. He just smiled.

Yeah, what I had thought was going to be kind of a downer day turned out quite well. I shouldn’t have been worried. I just thought it would bother him more. Maybe it did, but he certainly didn’t show it or allow it to affect his mood. Like I said before, I can only hope I will do as well if I’m blessed to live as long a life as him. I suppose it’s all about acceptance. You live each day to the best of your ability and do the things you can until you can’t do them any longer. Then you put those activities up on a shelf or in a drawer and move on, cherishing the memories.  Yep, my pop is full of surprises. he epitomizes what it means to grow old graciously.

Just a thought…





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