The “sandwich” generation takes care of their children and their parents at the same time. My only child is pushing eighteen, drives herself pretty much everywhere she has to go, and doesn’t require much in the way of mothering. I can’t really lay claim to taking care of two constituencies at the same time.
To be honest, I’m not even taking care of my parents. I’m helping my mom take care of my dad. Actually, I’m helping my mom take care of the business of taking care of my dad. I arrange for and keep track of caretakers, schedule and attend doctor’s appointments, and roll over CDs when they mature. I’m a jack-of-all-trades and if there’s something I can’t do, I have a husband I can press into service. Today, however, I was stumped.
My father’s driver’s license is about to expire. Now, don’t tell him, but he’s unlikely to need a driver’s license again. Regular readers may remember the post, Keep on keepin’ on, from last summer, at which time we had every intention of letting him get back behind the wheel someday. That, however, is no longer an option, even if by some miracle he recovers enough to drive: I donated his beloved 1988 Chevy Celebrity wagon to Habitat for Humanity for the tax deduction. What’s the problem then, you’re wondering? Who cares if his license expires? Well, for one, he cares. Giving up your license is a rite of passage (or whatever you call the reverse of that) that no one contemplates happily. If you have your license you can hang onto your pride by maintaining that you choose not to drive. I understand completely. It’s probably the same reason I pay extra to renew the motorcycle license I haven’t needed in thirty years.
There’s also a practical use for a driver’s license that is unrelated to driving. A driver’s license is one of the few ways that you can prove you are you. It is the “picture ID” that you take everywhere, perhaps hoping that one day you’ll be carded again when you try to buy a beer, even though you know it’s more likely that you’ll be hit by a truck crossing the street, in which case it’s important that the police are able to identify your body. For those who do not drive, but still wish to purchase alcohol and be able to prove they are who they say they are, there is an official Massachusetts ID. To get an ID, however, you have to present yourself in person to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and prove that you are you.
You also have to go to the Registry in person if you want to renew your driver’s license after the age of seventy-five. Dad has good days and bad days. On a bad day it can be difficult to get him into the car. I searched the Registry’s web site for a loophole that would allow him to turn his license into an ID online, but alas, found none, which means we won’t be heading for the Registry any time soon.
My father can’t be the only elderly gentleman in this situation. People who give up their licenses are clearly not as mobile as they once were. Shouldn’t they be able to use the RMV web site to trade their driver’s license for the more pedestrian form of ID? Given that a license is the gold standard for proving who you are, that’s all they should need, don’t you think? Someone needs to convince the registry to change that rule. Anyone else want to take that on? I’m just too tired. Hey, I may not be as busy as a genuine member of the sandwich generation, but even us open-faced sandwich types run out of energy for tilting at windmills. For now, if someone needs to see a picture ID for my father we’ll hand them an expired license, and if they won’t sell him the beer, I’ll buy it for him.