In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas corpora, 1

Since 1999 I’ve driven a Ford Taurus. My current exemplar is a 2005, which I bought used in 2008.

Since June 16, 2018, I drive a 2013 Ford F150 crew cab with a cap over the pickup bed.

This, more or less. Ours is a bit paler, more towards tan than copper. It’s the vehicle my father bought the month after mom died — trading in all the random, slightly rickety vehicles we’d been using that summer for various kinds of transportation. It was expensive. It is his dream truck — believe me, mom never would have let him buy this new.

I’ve also had to drive, in the last month, a Ford F350 pickup, the noise of which unsettles me when it accelerates uphill, but that’s a last resort vehicle, for when I have to do some kind of change with my brother, move a boat, or pull a heavy trailer. Because dad is officially restricted from driving now, I spend most of my time in the F150. It’s been a lot of driving — last week he had eight different appointments with doctors, labs or therapists, and the stroke therapy center is 40 mi. round trip from our house.

I’m not one of those Americans who refuses to use public transportation or anything, but in most of the U.S. cities I’ve lived in, it’s not very good. So except for when I lived in Germany, I’ve owned various cars since I was sixteen, many of them inherited or purchased for very little, and like Richard Armitage, I’m okay with a car as long as it starts. As long time readers know, I definitely enjoy long haul driving in my car. I like speeding along, skimming the ground. I like knowing where the front and the back end of the car are, and exactly how much space I need to make a U-turn, and the Taurus still has six cylinders, which means it has effective acceleration despite being (by world standards) a largish sedan. It gets an acceptable, if not exemplary, 30 mpg and it’s a comfortable ride. To get into it, I open the door, reach my right foot into the car, sit down, and pull my left foot in. To get out, I open the door, put my right foot out, and stand up. Driving it makes me feel light and mobile.

A pickup truck, on the other hand? To say it doesn’t fit my image is a severe understatement. It’s big and heavy. I never know exactly where the rear end is. This one — with a jazillion bells and whistles — wants me to back using a camera with a display I see in a rear view mirror, rather than just looking out the rear window or at the mirrors. I’m constantly afraid I’ll hit something except, of course, that it beeps like crazy if it thinks I am getting too close to anything. When I get out of the car, I’m convinced it looked like a drunk parked it, and for that reason I drop dad off at the door of places we go, and park far away so I don’t accidentally dent someone else’s vehicle. Blessing: the stroke therapy center has valet parking. I’ve always scoffed at that type of thing as something the likes of me doesn’t need, but I’ll admit, in the last month I have become a very generous tipper.

If driving the thing makes me feel oversized and clumsy, getting in is a similar experience. The passenger side has a handle to help, but not the driver’s side. I have watched my brother get in and out of the truck, and I think the plan is that the driver grasps the door frame with the right hand, puts the left foot up on the running board, and swings and plops into the seat. Not me. I put my right foot on the running board, sort of push my butt onto the edge of the seat, then I grasp the steering column and pull myself up into the beast. I always feel the opposite of nimble when I do this and I have to suppress my desire to say “ooof” — something I feel I am too young to be saying yet in this situation. To get out, I perch my butt on the edge of the seat and slide out and hope both feet hit the ground at the same time.

But this is better for dad — it’s easier for him to pull himself into the truck than to get in and out of my low-to-the-ground Taurus. Also, I think he feels safer in the truck (and no matter what he thinks, he’s never criticized my driving). So every day, every trip, it’s into and out of this huge thing.

It was his dream truck. Theoretically, it was supposed to last him till he stopped driving. That may have just happened. He has a medical direction not to drive (which means, apart from being unsafe, if he did drive and cause an accident, his insurance wouldn’t cover him). His rehabilitation is going swimmingly, somewhat faster than expected, but it’s unclear that his reaction times will recover, or that even if it does, his vision is really good enough. What will likely happen is that the doctor will require that he retake the written and road tests, and that these together will constitute an insurmountable goal. (There are additional problems that I’ll talk about in another post, I think.) Dad is really hanging on the hope of driving again, to the point that he’s a bit in denial about it. He tells people he could drive just fine, even though he’s taken the response test once and his responses are quite a bit too slow, his right side muscle control is poor, and his peripheral vision has been bad for years.

My brother and I are still talking around this topic, as neither of us are entirely ready for this transition. We’ve chatted a bit about what will happen if I still need to drive dad in another six weeks, or into the winter, when all bets are off as I really don’t want to be driving a truck on ice. My niece will turn sixteen in December, and will need a vehicle. Theoretically we could give her my car and trade in the truck against something that would still be comfortable for dad and easier for me to drive — a minivan or a crossover or even a Jeep.

I have a deep affection for my car, but it’s only a car. Ford has decided to stop making them. And really it’s not a lie to say I’m happy driving anything that starts (and has brakes). Still it’s hard for me to see myself driving a big clunky thing. I shouldn’t borrow trouble. Also whatever I have to do will be easier for me than not driving will be for dad.

I find myself clinging to the present, to my current (independent) picture of myself.

Can’t stop time, but I’d like to.

[hopefully there will be another piece of this, but The Dadsitter is coming over and I can escape to the Ocean’s 8 late show, so I will.]

~ by Servetus on July 15, 2018.

27 Responses to “In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas corpora, 1”

  1. I’ve always driven sedans, my most recent vehichle is a crossover. I enjoy it. When my dad passed away I would have loved to have his truck, not just for the memories. He kept his vehicles in beautiful shape and his Chevy Silverado 2500 was cherry. I loved driving it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not super susceptible to the look of a vehicle as a reason for driving it, even I admire other peoples’. My uncle just got a crossover and loves it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like that he bought his dream car/truck. I think once in your life it’s fun to buy into that fantasy.
        I imagine losing mobility and then the loss of that drivers license would be incredibly frustrating. I can’t even imagine how I would handle it. But I am
        very sure nobody would want to live with me.

        Like

        • Yeah — and he could afford it. One of the consequences of mom’s death was that they had saved really hard all those years and now there was only one to pay for.

          I think around here it’s disastrous. In settings where public transportation is better and more accepted, it’s much less of a problem. (And one doesn’t have to have the hassle of owning the vehicle.)

          re: living together — dad’s a real extrovert (normally; the stroke seems to have changed this slightly). His emotions have been more stable since I’ve been living here. (For me it’s a different story, but that would be a longer post.) So he said to me shortly before the stroke that living with me was “fun.” (shrugs)

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I really don’t think that I could drive either of my husbands trucks 1994 F-150 or 1995 F-150 Fords and both red. My husband is not a fan of new cars or trucks, but might give in a get something newer when I am done with school as my 2005 Ford Crown Victoria is getting rusty and so is the 2004 Crown Vic that my son will be driving this school year. Both Crown Vic’s are old cop cars.

    Good luck to you and your brother on the day if it comes that your dad really will no longer be able to drive, one thing to have hope and another to know it will never happen again. Some how we have to get my BNL tested as he has such bad eyes that glasses can’t seem to help. He has no peripheral vision and I really don’t think any depth perception either. He was to see a eye specialist about 20 years ago for it and my MIL told him if the eye doctor could not do anything then why go. Now she is gone and he should not drive ( he has never been married) so he will keep on till something bad happens. He is soon to be only 52.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dad’s best buddy has a Crown Vic. Very comfortable, pleasant ride.

      Interestingly, the state of WI apparently does not require depth perception for a DL. (I looked into this about five years ago.) You can drive legally with only one eye. They do care about peripheral vision. Horrible to be marooned at 52, I think. Around here, anyway, I’m confident that between ourselves, free ride services, apps like Uber, and if necessary, hiring a college student to serve as chauffeur, we could meet dad’s needs to go places. But in your neck of the woods that’s a bit harder.

      Like

      • My BIL would have to have his sister, the other brother, SIL, niece or nephew to drive him. We live where he needs to go plus he has a good way at ticking off the whole family. We do have a county transit bus but can’t see him taking it. He will not give up driving until he is made too. He is also night blind and has been since he was a kid. Can’t hear well either. Really scary when you add it all together with driving.

        My mom’s cousin drove with only one eye, we all thought she was not able to. Her driving got so bad her kids would not ride with her. No one wants to have the maybe you shouldn’t drive talk. My grandma gave hers up after seeing her dad and my mom never got to the point before she got cancer where her driving was bad. My dad never drove in his life. My inlaws also never got to that point before illness. My poor aunt with her mother in law, it was very bad she couldn’t see and would not give up driving.

        The Crown Vic is a nice ride but so are the trucks, just will not drive them.

        Like

        • It’s interesting how reticent we are about this topic — I don’t want to raise it, my brother doesn’t want to raise it — although he in particular has felt for years that he doesn’t want to drive with dad. It also raises the question of how dad will practice if he has to retake the road test. I think we’ll have to have him go to driving school because I can’t imagine either of us practice driving with him.

          Like

  3. Ah, the joys of driving a pickup! Mine is a 1997 F-150 with no AC and no radio. Other than me wishing it had AC when it’s hot & humid, I love it! It’s old and beat up but gets me where I need to go. I usually don’t have to go far – work is about 5 miles away & Wally-world about 20 – but I have driven it that lovely 5 hour ride home to my family’s farm in middle Georgia. As short as I am, I like sitting up high in it so I can see the road. Hated hubby’s Civic & my sister’s Benz – too low to the ground for me. I have to grab the door frame and hoist my butt out of them. Glad the Civic no longer runs. I’ve never been very fond of small cars as I don’t feel very safe in them. And the first car I ever drove (& the one I learned how to drive in) was a Crown Vic.

    Like

    • Dad would currently have the same issues as you getting in and out of the Taurus. I don’t feel safer in the pickup, though; I feel more exposed and a bit unstable (center of gravity is too high to suit me). I’m not sure how it will drive on ice, either.

      Like

      • I try not to drive it in ice or snow (& if it’s going to snow anywhere in the state of Georgia, it’s where I live). I prefer to drive our Honda Odyssey when the roads are slippery, but sometimes I have to take the truck. Learned to slow down (☹️) & take my time. Also learned to take my foot off the gas when I get to an icy patch.

        Like

        • Yeah, rule #1 of driving on snow or ice is “don’t touch the brake, use the gas pedal as your brake.”

          Like

  4. I think you’ll find the back up camera and the
    motion sensor to be useful assistants to you
    in driving such a big car. I drive a Highlander
    and will never go back to a sedan bec my back
    is so much more comfortable in the SUV and I
    agree I feel more in control the higher up I sit
    in the Highlander. Glad to know I’m not the only one who parks out and walks. I too am afraid of someone dinging my car or worse me
    dinging theirs. I like the walk too.

    Like

    • I’ve kinda given up on the camera — it shows thing as much further away than they re — but I’m starting to appreciate the motion sensor. To me the one argument in favor of the pickup (for someone who doesn’t use the pickup’s other functions — and that’s a piece of this, too, in part this pickup is to haul his boat, but if he can’t put his boat in?) is tht it’s high off the ground and lets the driver see more.

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  5. Pretty sad when it comes to public transportation. He would really be stranded without you!
    😂 is he just now seeing how fun you are? Lol Dad!

    Like

    • I guess so. I think part of it is that I don’t say the thing that everyone else around here says. I have never gone with the flow and I suppose there’s a bit of a thrill to that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m embarrassed to say I have become rather dependent on the park-assist features of my SUV. A few years ago, I would have been making fun of it.

    I know that feeling of wanting to “stop time” for the moment, when you sense change is coming and you just can’t fact it. It’s not a nice feeling. My suggestion to you, when the time comes, is to find a way to explain to your dad that you just can’t manage the big vehicle and need to trade it in for something more user-friendly.

    It’s sweet that he thinks living with you is “fun.” What an enormous compliment. I cannot say that either of my parents would have said that of me as an adult !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Holly hell what a car. I would probably need a ladder to get in lol
    Maybe that’s a cultural thing but these big american cars intimidate me…..a lot!

    Like

    • 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • It would take a while to explain why this vehicle exists — but the short story is that the crew cab was developed to take a group of workers (usually building people or utilities workers) to a jobsite with all their equipment. (vs the regular pickup truck, which was smaller and typically about one guy and his tools, or hauling heavy things from place to place, or even something like camping). It’s now evolved into a thing that is not only large but has a ton of bells and whistles (like this one has an automated trailer hitch). It’s definitely a cultural thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yeah, that is a huge car! We don’t see many of those over here. Makes sense to get an ‘easier’ car for your dad to get in to.
    My dad was quite upset when it became clear he wasn’t allowed to drive anymore… it’s tough losing that independence. Hope it’ll be a while yet for your dad and that he can drive again once he’s better.

    Like

    • This is one of many beefs I have with Donald Trump every time he complains that the US isn’t exporting cars to Europe: Hello, have you ever been on a European street? Most US cars, even things like my Taurus, are just way too big for the space available.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I used to drive a sedan, but I had to replace it after it was totalled by a snowplough around 10 years ago. I had to go for an SUV so that I could drive up to 2 hockey bags, sticks, and players around. It seemed really high off the ground at first, but I like it now. I suppose I’ll have to replace it someday, but I like to make them last as long as possible. I think I’d find it difficult, too, to drive a truck around. Hope your dad’s recovery is continuing well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sedans are going out of style. I’m hoping at the moment to keep mine (and find niece something else to drive) until it dies. Thanks for th good wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

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