Snow: Taking Mama’s wheels away can be risky

asnow@newsobserver.comJune 2, 2012 

One of the hardest things that children have to do is persuade an aging parent to surrender his or her driver’s license.

Resolving that question can lead to family disharmony, lasting grudges, and in some cases, losses of inheritance for an offspring.

For Bob Hatcher of Raleigh, taking his mother’s “wheels” almost landed him in jail. Family members had long been concerned about the safety of his mother and other motorists as she continued to drive in her 90s.

The mere mention of surrendering her license made it clear that she had no such intention. After all, she “went slow, very slow, not too far and usually just to church.”

Hatcher drove her back and forth from Wilmington to visit the family in Raleigh on occasion.

But when she was in her mid-90s and the DMV renewed her license for five more years after only an eye test, the family decided something had to be done.

During her next visit to Raleigh, Hatcher secretly took her keys. Unbeknownst to his mother, his wife and a friend drove to Wilmington, brought her car back to Raleigh and hid it in a barn on her son’s property.

“I then took my mother back to Wilmington late Sunday. When we opened her garage door she, of course, asked where her car was. I replied only that it was in a safe place.

“At about 9:30 the next morning, I received a call from the Wilmington police department about a stolen car. The officer said that my mother had reported her car stolen and that I might know something about it!

“After absorbing few bits of information about her being 95 and running into cars in parking lots, etc., the officer said he understood. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to jail for auto theft.”


God surely must love optimists, and I wish I were more optimistic.

During one of our “Blackberry Winters,” those cold snaps that occur every May, a Raleigh couple drove to the Outer Banks in search of the Corolla wild ponies.

I checked in with them upon their return.

“Well, the weather was somewhat chilly,” she said. “And we didn’t see a single wild pony.

“But,” she added brightly, “we did see plenty of pony poop.”

I guess my favorite optimist is still the daughter of a friend who, at age 11, greatly coveted the role of the Blue Fairy in her ballet school’s production.

When my friend came home from work a few days later and found the girl in a down mood, he said, “You didn’t get the Blue Fairy part, did you?”

“No,” she said, “I have to be half of a horse. But guess what, Daddy. I get to be the front half.”

The crow

How many of you have walked through the woodland after a snowfall and suddenly found yourselves deluged by a shower of snow and then watched as a crow fluttered away through the bare trees?

This is the way poet Robert Frost saved that image for us:

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

A crow, the size of a wild turkey, has changed my mood of late by camping out by my bird feeders and devouring a half-cake of hot pepper suet per day. He is the most arrogant of birds, ignoring my wife’s shrieks of “Go way! Go away, ugly bird.”

Robert Frost would find no poetry in this crow.

Storm warning

In the war between the sexes, there always are warning signs before the first shot is fired.

I overheard a man telling a friend:

“I can always gauge how well things are going between me and my wife when we get to church on Sunday morning.

“If she doesn’t sing the first hymn and just stands there with lips pressed together, I begin to worry. Then, if she doesn’t join in on the Lord’s Prayer, I know I’m really in trouble.”

Snow: 919-836-5636

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