Story of my Life

A white cassette tape with "Story of my Life" written in black text. The tape is sitting on an orange table.

Story of my Life (One Direction) – We all have a story to tell – about personal or professional experiences or even some that cross between the two. Sometimes we don’t realize how impactful our stories can be. Therefore, we hold them inside, thinking they aren’t that important or that strong. We overlook the fact that other people can be affected by a range of stories, some big and important, and some small, but all relevant and all coming together to shape opinions and shift behaviors. 

The story of my life might not seem relevant to a lot of people, and many aspects might only resonate with some. I don’t share it with everyone, but I have one story that I believe should be shared. Perhaps it will change how just one of you thinks about driving and how to reach out to an older adult about transportation planning.

My father worked until he was 80. He was a civil engineer, and his job was about building roads (ironic when I think about it). The company he worked for provided a company car to help him get to and from multiple job sites. In the last year he worked, he caused two crashes, totaling his company car both times. Thankfully, no one was hurt in either crash, but it could easily have turned out differently. I always imagined how he (and those of us in our family) would feel if he had hit a mother in a van with her kids and how the outcome would’ve been different. What was even more frustrating was that he ended up buying a car himself after about 3 weeks of depending on others to get to/from work. (I guess I get some of my stubborn and independent streak from him.)

As the youngest child, and the only daughter, I wanted to have the conversation with him about his driving, but I didn’t know how to do it. How would I make that transition from the daughter he looked out for to the daughter looking out for him? I had the need, I had the interest, but I didn’t have the resources and wasn’t equipped to approach him. 

I will say that we were lucky in that he didn’t have another incident. He passed away within months of retiring, but I never forgot that feeling of dread and anxiety that something might happen, and I could’ve said something to perhaps stop it.

Since then, I have become familiar with ChORUS and the tools they offer that would’ve been so helpful to me all those years ago. I am now 68, and I know there will come a time when my son will be worried about me. Fearful that he would find himself in the same position I was with my dad, I sat down with my son and given him permission to have the conversation – asking him to remind me of granting this permission should I push back. 

We all hope to learn from our experiences, but we can also learn from the experiences of others. Share your stories: how have you helped an older adult improve traffic safety? What steps can help an older adult be receptive to changing their driving habits or be prepared for when they might not be able to continue to drive safely? You may not need to tell the whole Story of your Life, but perhaps sharing one part of your story will help someone else complete theirs.