It wasn’t that Dad was driving much; it was that we all knew he shouldn’t be driving at all. For the most part, he was too ill to argue, much less fight, but on ornery days we’d see that flash of rage, the wounded lion asserting himself as head of the pride by going for the driver’s side instead of the passenger’s.
My mother would cajole him, but me being the mirror of the man, I’d meet anger with anger, steel with steel. We’d fight; we’d hate each other and ourselves and we’d solve little while we did it. He would tuck his portable oxygen tank on the seat, and I’d shake my head wondering what the police might make of that. I envisioned a ball of flames if he collided with anything, much more of a possibility with his concentration sliced to shreds and the sheer physicality of the man so diminished.
He made his point and finally walked away from the car. Looking back, there were probably far fewer trips than I imagined as I swipe at the cobwebs of the 16 years since his death. Which made what happened next all the more confusing. Sitting on the table one June day was his licence renewal notice. He hadn’t driven in six months and, with the battle won and the war over, I wondered why it hadn’t been tossed.
He was renewing his licence. I gaped at my mother, who shook her head. Over our questions and concerns, he set his jaw and filled out the paperwork. Seeing only trees, I banged around the forest, attempting to parent the parent. I was met with stony silence, as even raising his voice took too much oxygen.
I eventually learned this had been a question all along of dignity, not delusion, and my father never did drive again. He simply wanted that piece of paper that said the decision had been his to make.