you can’t get there from here

23 08 2008

 I remember being quite young and feeling like a trip was taking too long or that the roads didn’t look familiar and I’d start to whine thinking we were lost…and he’d play along knowing full well where we were and how to get to where he was headed.  He could not be accused any form of road rage either – but he was probably the cause of some rage behind many a shaken fist.   He meandered…poked…Sunday driver on steroids…speed limit or under – you get the picture.  But he was an excellent driver and because he logged hundreds of hours a month in his NIPSCO vehicle – only his left arm at just above the elbow at the T-shirt sleeve line was perpetually tan.

 He knew nothing of the internet or relying on some androgynous voice telling him to “turn left in 500 feet…”  I never remember seeing him take out a map – he just knew.  I learned I could always trust my dad’s internal compass even in a raging blizzard.  But there would be those occasions when someone would ask him for directions and his first answer was always, “You can’t get there from here…”  And he was usually right…it is one thing to get somewhere as the crow flies and then there was Billy’s way.

 I learned that there are many ways to get to the same destination.  Some might be fans of going miles out of their way to get to the limited access highways when Billy knew full well that there were perfectly driveable two lane highways that  would eventually get him to where he was going.  “What’s the big hurry…”

After he was hospitalized last spring with a serious illness, the committee was in residence to help with rehabilitative care and we’d been toying with the decision.  Someone grabbed his keys to use his car and was met by a horrible surprise.  A special kind of treasure hunt revealed that he had taken one of those urinal cleaner cakes – deodorant things – and put it under the driver’s seat as a “freshener”.  Wow…that pushed the NO vote forward…

And in all of the adventures of the last couple of years I would have to say that taking his keys away was hands down the hardest, lowest, most rotten thing we could have done.  His voice would crack with emotion anytime he told people that we wouldn’t let him drive any more. And it’s not like he’d forgotten what we were doing to him as  the most recent time he mentioned that we wouldn’t let him drive anymore was just within the last month and a half.  To this day I’m not sure how I feel about that particular decision.  But after losing his keys while in a store we felt like we needed to take definitive action.  Yeah, we felt “safer” but he felt miserable, bored, useless and punished.  

He loved his car – it meant independence and freedom.  He’d go to garage sales or resale shops, the dollar store or grocery store, church or post office and a million places in between.  Always comin’ and goin’ – my mom would never know half the time where he was or when he was coming home.  Often he’d drop a few dimes in a pay phone from the grocery store before heading home to ask if there was anything she needed from the store. 

So what goes ’round comes ’round…we cannot understand how he is still hanging around.  His body cannot take much more – it just can’t.  We feel that we’ve been in this space for much longer than a ten days…this feeling of imminence.  But he’s back in the driver’s seat calling the shots.  He is behind the wheel and he’s gonna backroad it the whole way home takin’ his sweet time.  Just putzing…

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