Friday, October 26, 2012

Free At Last--Sort Of

I've started to tell people my good news: I passed my driving test in September.

"That's fantastic!" people say. "You must feel so free now!"

I'm very proud. It's a big milestone. But it's not as liberating as I wish.

It's partly that I'm still getting my confidence back as a driver. To feel comfortable, I have to plan the route ahead of time, mentally going through busy intersections, rotaries, and tricky parking lots. It's partly that the most simple errands are a lot more physical work now--from getting my coat zipped up to wrangling a shopping cart with my uneven strength. And it's also partly that I tire very easily, so I only drive around my town or the next one, for now.

But the biggest reason is that it's the first time that I've felt the weight of total responsibility since the stroke. Although I have responsibility for my kids when I'm alone with them, they are old enough that I don't have to watch them like a hawk. Driving is different. I've spent a lot of time in a rehab hospital over these years. I've seen the results of serious car accidents, and the wreckage of people's lives.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Childhood, Revisited

The last time I walked to school with the kids with any regularity, my first-grader son would trudge along, and he often wanted to hold hands--even though I was pushing a stroller with my daughter in it, even though I was constantly urging him to pick up the pace.

I've started to walk the kids to school in the morning again, about once a week. My son, now 10 years old, dashes out the door as soon as he sees the neighborhood pack of boys walking up the street. I don't see him until after school. My daughter hesitates as I come down our front steps, then she hurries up the road to walk with her friend. She does want me to wait in line at school with her, so right before she gets to the school, she stops and waits, until she sees me and my cane.

I remember walking to school many years ago with my two sisters. I was the youngest. Every four or five steps, I would have to run to catch up. Sometimes I can hear my own childish voice:

"Wait, wait!" I say with panic in my voice, "I can't keep up!"