WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY
Alan had always been extremely interested in cars and motor racing, particularly Formula One. He would often spend hours, just polishing the same section of his truck. I knew where he was, he was out in the fresh air and seemed content and pleased that he had a job. Other times when he became agitated he would rush out of the house, and jump in his truck and drive off. My heart would come up into my mouth, particularly as there always seemed to be an ambulance or police siren at the same time. I prayed hard for him to be kept safe. At the hospital in addition to the Caregiver meeting, they also had a meeting for the patients. I took Alan one time, and after 10 minutes or so, they came to me and said he was “too far gone to stay in the meeting”. It dawned on me then just how bad he was. When you are on this journey, you are so busy just trying to cope with the daily struggles, that it just becomes your norm. An old friend of his who was a snowbird would occasionally come and stay with him while I went to the Support Group; although even he confessed that he found him a handful. Everyone at the group had various suggestions to stop Alan from jumping in the car and driving off – hiding the keys, which I had tried several times, calling the Police, disabling the vehicle; all kinds of ideas. Even the Administrator of the group felt the Police should be called. I knew for Alan, a law biding citizen, if a Policeman came to our door, that would further escalate the situation.
Every day I was taking him out for a drive in the car, just driving around, then we would always stop for his favorite, coffee and a donut. Most of the time, he couldn’t hold a conversation, but he would always point out to me the different emblems on a vehicle and say “that’s a Chevy, that’s a Mercedes” etc. and then one day there was a Jaguar in front of us and he was drooling. Years before he had gone with friends to watch the 24hr. race at LeMans, and on that occasion, Jaguar had one first, second and third place. It was then, an idea formed in my mind….trade in his truck and our car and get a Jag. I started to sow the seed, that since we were now both retired it was a waste of money to have two vehicles sitting idly most of the time, in that split second he agreed, then it was gone from his memory. I always continued to talk to him as if he was his old self, I just felt that somewhere deep inside of him, on some level he understood. One day I had driven him down to St. Petersburg and on the way home, I noticed a Jaguar dealer. On the spur of the moment, I just drove straight into the forecourt, he was like a kid in a candy store and I knew that was the answer. We drove home in a blue jaguar on loan to see how we liked it. That night, I was woken by Alan yelling for the Police, he said that someone had put a big blue car in our garage; I managed to quieten him down by explaining it was his Christmas present – his face lit up, he couldn’t believe it and was so excited. That night we both spent a lot of time in the Garage, with me trying to convince him it wasn’t stolen, it belonged to him. The car had a push start, no keys, and at the time all kinds of fancy gadgets, which he had no idea how to use – so that was the problem solved. Although for several days after he continued to tell me to call the Police, as his truck had been stolen.