My youngest went on a field trip this morning and.the parents who chaperoned were car pooling. Luckily for me, they had plenty of chaperon., not only are my supervision skills more like sheep herding, but my car pooling abilities are sorely lacking.
I wish I could tell you that is all totally due to the blindness, but the truth is I drove like a drunk Apache when I could see. My High School principal asks me whenever he sees me if I have finally learned to drive.
I did learn to drive when I was in High School, from my older brother. His gentle teaching and coaching resulted in the two of us nearly end up in a canal because I didn't know how to brake while down shifting a manual transmission.(Some of you are old enough to know how to drive a stick, right?)
I was a hit, literally, in New York City. I drove like all the yellow cab drivers in Manhattan. We understood each other and learned that road rage in New York just means "Good Morning" in Manhattan-ese.
I do miss driving, I even remember the last time I drove, and it was rather shocking for my entire small town.
Six months after my husband and I were married, I drove for the last time. I was partially sighted then, I could see, light, some colors, and movement if it were close enough to me.I didn't have a driver's license and I didn't attempt driving, because somewhere in my mind I knew there was no good reason for me to try. That was my problem, all I needed was a good reason, and that Sunday evening I was sure I had one.
I lost my father to a series of heart attacks when I was 17 years old. For nearly a decade I had missed out on the celebration of Father's Day.
This year I finally had a Father-in-law, who loved and requested my chocolate chip cookies. I carefully baked two dozen golden brown chocolate delights and packed them lovingly into a special cookie jar I bought just for the occasion. My husband, bless his heart, (you have to say that before you throw them under the bus) took a Sunday afternoon nap.
Now for most people a nap is not an unconquerable obstacle, but with my husband, waking him up before he wants to wake up is impossible. I would have made more progress with a corpse.
As the sun sank lower and lower in the western sky, what little light I could use was quickly vanishing into the fast approaching night. If I was going to get the cookies delivered, I was going to have to do it now, and on my own..As I futilely searched for my shoes, I made up my mind that if I focused on the color of the car in front of me, and followed my mental map, I could at least get myself there, and I would worry about how to get back later. Grabbing the car keys, but giving up on finding my shoes, I climbed barefoot into our car..Focusing my will if not my eyes, I started out. The route was fairly direct: pull out of the drive, head south until cars were moving east and west in front of me, turn right and drive west until I had to stop for a traffic light. This is where it got a little sticky. I couldn't see well enough to tell what color the traffic lights were, or whether or not I could squeeze into on coming traffic. I tucked this piece of information into the back of my mind and decided to burn that bridge when I got to it.
From that point it was a straight shot north, to another major intersection, and then west again to the small town in which my in laws resided.
In my limited capacity to grasp my own stupidity and reckless determination, I missed the lurking dangers and tragedies that surely waited for me as I set out on this trip. Maybe because it was Father's Day, and my own Father's soul couldn't watch me kill or maim some one else in his name. Maybe because God loves a faithful, all be it idiotic heart, or Maybe because the entire county numbers less than 100,000 people who were all safely holed up with their own fathers, my crazy plan actually worked.
A white car just happened to pull out in front of me and miraculously lead me through out the course I had prearranged.(And some people don't believe in divine intervention) My problems, interestingly enough were now beginning.
There are two churches with steeples in my in-laws little town, one on the corner of the road that turned into town, and the other coincidentally, across the street from my goal. As the sun settled into the red rock hills the sky was lit like a blood red candle, and the outline of these steeples was a stark contrast against the evenings blaze. I was home free. Locating the spire of that first church was like a neon sign in my heart. I turned right on the correct road and began searching the skyline for the second spire
Now, imagine in your mind what a mostly blind person, driving, and not watching the road must look like driving down a road. (You should be forming the image of that drunk Apache). In this rural small town the shoulders of the roads are gravel in some places, pot holes and ditches in others, and occasionally widen out to meet up with curbs and gutters. So, with my limited sight searching for a church steeple, my car swerving on and off the shoulder of the sometimes wide and sometimes narrow road. Some terrified little old lady, or concerned citizen took down my license plate number at this point, and called me in as a drunk driver.
By then,I was probably a grand total of three blocks from my destination, which just so happened to be located almost directly across the road from the police and fire department. Yet, I was still able to drive around in circles for another 15 minutes before I parked in front of what I believed was my in-laws home..I was so relieved and proud that I had made it, I failed to notice the police cruiser pulling up beside me.
I am a very small person. about five feet tall, and a hundred pound soaking wet. I probably looked to this officer like I was a teenager joy riding and I'm certain he had every intention of delivering a sobriety test and impounding my vehicle. I opened the car door to explain my monumental accomplishment to him at which point he noticed that I was not wearing shoes.
"Where are your shoes, miss?," he asked me, glaring at my toes. "Let me see your driver's license."
I can only imagine the look on his face as I explained: I didn't have a driver's license, Was blind and that was also the reason I couldn't find my shoes. I took the cookie jar from the seat beside me and explained my reasoning in making the trip. The more I explained myself, the more the words rang in my own ears and i began to cry.
My in-laws; father-in-law, mother-in-law, two brothers-in-law, three sisters-in-law, and a couple of nieces and nephews, are all lined up in front of the large picture window that looks out onto the drive. As they watch my interrogation, they think my husband has been pulled over for speeding and has run off and left me to face the cops alone. The police officer leads me from the car up to the front door, assuring me that he understands and that he just can't have me operating a motor vehicle. When my father-in-law answers his door, and the officer explains about the cookies, handing both me and the jar over to him, we both end up in tears.
"I think that's the best father's day gift I've ever been given," he tells me later.
No one got arrested or impounded and better still, no one was hurt or killed. When my husband was called and told to pick up his wife and his car nine miles away, he thought they were kidding. Truthfully the only time I was really afraid I had blown it was when he showed up. My husband is the epitome of the strong, silent type. When he came for me and his car that day he was, frightfully quiet and I was sure I would never be forgiven. Instead he took me to Denny's, bought me a milkshake and french fries and asked me if I was Okay. He wasn't mad, he said. Only frightened, I could have been killed over those cookies and he said he was sorry I thought I had to take that chance.
It wasn't so much the driving I remember about that day, it was my acceptance of the fact that I would never drive again. It was also the baptism by fire my husband received. I am not the kind of woman who accepts that there things I can't do. My poor husband got his first taste that night, of what a ride we were on.