Ah, I bet when you read that headline, you got the heebies and dreads. No one likes going to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is a necessary evil and something that should be avoided at all costs. The lines are long, and patience is short.
This past Monday I picked up my 81-year-old mother and drove her to the DMV. My mother is a pistol and a half and yet that morning, she was somewhat quiet.
“I know this is hard Mom. Giving up your license is a big deal,” I said.
She replied, “I don’t know how I feel about it other than the fact I do not want to hurt anyone or have an accident. I am older now and smaller too! I can barely see over the wheel.”
We drove a bit in silence just listening to the wind from the open sunroof and feeling the sun on our faces.
Pulling up in front, using her handicap permit, we walked up to the door and witnessed the long line. I suggested she sit, and I would stand in line, but she was having none of it. We stood in line for about 45 minutes chatting about the people around us, smiling at the toddlers playing with her cane, and thinking about the reason for our visit. I believe she stood in defiance and in an act of pure will. She is one tough Grammee.
We were there to exchange her license for an ID card. A change in independence and a turning point in my mother’s life.
As we stood there in line I clearly remembered when she drove me to the DMV in Schenectady and effortlessly parallel parked on the street. She waited patiently while I took the permit test and congratulated me on passing. It was one of the most perfect adolescent rites of passage.
Yet, here I am now, holding my mother’s hand and walking to the counter. My sister Amy filled out the paperwork online for the “enhanced ID.” When the woman asked my mother for her marriage certificate to verify the name change, she looked at this woman incredulously and said, “Are you kidding, that was almost 60 years ago. Who remembers where they put that thing?”
(That DMV woman actually cracked a smile and we were all laughing at this point)
My mom was so funny when they took her picture. She smiled so cute and asked if she still needed the eye test. Sadly, not necessary with just the ID card. They kept her license and discarded it in the paperwork pile without a second thought. She looked at the temporary ID for a moment and handed it to me to hold for her.
We paid the $6.25 and we were on our way.
“I know this is hard mom.”
She said, “It is, but I am ready.”
That day driving her home, with her in the passenger seat like she was so many years ago for me, I thought to myself that I too may be here one day, and I hope I face it with the grace that my mother has.
(Thank you to the kind and patient people in the Clifton Park, NY DMV office.)