I recently had coffee with my friend Lloyd — the blind man I wrote about months ago who simply doesn’t know the meaning of the word “can’t.” He is grieving over the loss of his guide dog “Unity” who died as the result of an accident that he and Lloyd recently were involved in. They were hit by a car driven by an 87 year-old man who walks with the aid of a walker — and apparently drives pretty much the way Lloyd would, if he drove.
Lloyd was crossing a busy street on his way back from the local “Y” where he does a daily workout. The cross-traffic was stopped at the red light but the driver of the car that hit him turned right from behind Lloyd and knocked him out of his shoes and dragged his dog several feet. After the cops arrived along with the ambulance, the driver of the car kept yelling at anyone who would listen “But I had a green light.” Yes, but pedestrians have the right of way, Grandpa. Always. And when they are blind and being led by a dog they are given the right of way regardless of the color of the traffic light.
Lloyd recovered from a torn meniscus and a broken bone in his leg after some minor surgery, but Unity did not. Three weeks after the accident she died in Lloyd’s arms and, understandably, Lloyd is still grieving while he waits on a long list for another dog. When one is available he will board a plane in Minneapolis and fly to New Jersey to get the dog and spend some time while they get to know one another and he comes to love the dog as much as he did Unity. He will make the trip alone. As I say, Lloyd doesn’t know the meaning of the word “can’t.” Lloyd has already forgiven the elderly driver and even went to his home and told him so. He is a much more forgiving person than I would be.
I have always wondered about people who admire the elderly who still drive. “Grandpa is 90 and he still drives!” I can understand why Grandpa wants to drive as long as possible and I am sure that when I am that age (which day creeps slowly toward me relentlessly) I will want to continue to drive. No one wants to give up his or her sense of independence, especially in a rural area where it is difficult to get around. But I hope I will think of Lloyd who doesn’t drive (though I bet he could if we wanted to) and still manages to get around — until some old codger runs him down, breaks his leg and his heart, and kills his dog.
Secret, is to have a binding agreement with a friend whom you trust to tap you on the shoulder at an appropriate point and say “Time to give up driving mate”. I know a colleague who has this arrangement at work – “Time to stop reading X-rays mate”. Seems like a good arrangement to me. Tony
Good tip. And then, of course, you have to listen to your mate and act accordingly! Thanks, Tony.
Tony’s sensitive suggestion is a good one. We can hope that we will all have guardians that look after our best interests and do it in sensitive ways…
I hope that Lloyd soon has a new companion, although he will surely miss Unity.
Hugh, we are struggling with this issue with my mother. We are taking incremental steps as we speak. My wife took my mother-in-law’s keys away and my wife cried for days. Thanks for sharing the needed perspective. BTG