It seems it was only yesterday that my husband and I had to sit down with someone for a serious talk.
“It’s time to recognize that you’re getting older,” the talk began. “Your body is changing, and soon you’ll probably be thinking differently about a lot of things. That’s why we wanted to sit you down now before things get too serious and have this little talk.”
Yes, it seems like it was only yesterday. Oh wait — It WAS yesterday! Yesterday at the public library.
My husband and I had signed up for the AARP course about being a senior driver. Not that we need it yet, you understand. We were only in it for the discount on our auto insurance.
Still, as I listened and took notes, it was uncanny how much of the content seemed exactly like some talks I had participated in years before.
“Change is a fact of life,” it went on. “For example, take your own reflexes. They’re changing all the time, and you may find yourself reacting to things that you didn’t even notice in the past.”
You mean, like what bad drivers everybody around me has suddenly become? Zooming around me when I’m driving at the legal limit. And what’s with all the honking? It’s just plain rude!
“You may have to change your seat’s position or even get new foot pedals, so you can sit far enough away from the driver’s side airbag. And remember where to keep your hands!”
I jumped at that piece of counseling, but all they meant was the new position for gripping the steering wheel — at 9 o’clock and 3, instead of 10 and 2. Seems silly, but I guess I can manage that.
“You may find hairs appearing suddenly where you never saw them, before.” What? I did a double take. I could swear the instructor said “hairs,” but apparently he was talking about cars appearing suddenly out of nowhere, which they can seem to do if you have deteriorating peripheral vision from glaucoma. Glad I don’t have that one.
“It’s important to remember that all these changes are perfectly natural.” Yeah, yeah, that’s what they told us in junior high gym class, too. I hated hearing it then, and I’m no different now.
“You’re entering a new stage of life, and while it may be strange, and sometimes even a little scary, remember that it happens to everyone in their own good time. The key thing is to learn how to make adjustments.”
Adjustments have never been my strong point. The last time the town changed my recycling day, I was still leaving it out on the wrong day two years later.
“Your reaction times will be changing” — yes, for the worse — “and you might be having all sorts of new, distracting thoughts.” For instance, I wonder if the pain in my leg is a tumor or do I just need a new pair of driving shoes?
“Distracted driving is one of the biggest causes of serious accidents. So put that cell phone away!” — especially if, like me, you can’t figure out how the flashlight feature turned itself on in the first place.
“And, most importantly, don’t let peer pressure stampede you into a risky situation.”
In other words, if you need more time to decide whether or not that left turn is a safe one, just go ahead and take all day. Don’t let the honking of a line of cars behind you rattle you one little bit.
The AARP instructor was cheery, knowledgeable, and optimistic — everything I wished I had been the last time I had to have one of these talks with my kids. Maybe I can do better next time around:
“Kids, you may be wondering why your father and I have called you together for this family talk.
“The truth is we want to let the word go forth. It is time to pass the Taurus — or at least the keys for it — to a new generation!”
In a few years. I’m not mature enough yet for “the talk.”