A perspective of honorMarch 30, 2023
By Jeff Becraft
On their 50th wedding anniversary (they were married 68 years), my Dad gave my Mom a Lincoln Town Car. My Mom had grown up during the depression in Appalachia, VA. This was very special to her. The car is still running after 19 years and my brother has used it to take my Dad to his doctor appointments.
Dad doesn’t drive anymore. He hasn’t since 2019.
Back when he was driving, there were two times where he accidentally brushed against the curb of a road and it blew out the tire. It was an extremely narrow road (I didn’t like driving on it) and we encouraged him to go a different route.
The other route contained a massive intersection with three lanes going left. On one occasion, Dad was in the middle lane and as they turned, a large truck scraped up against him and kept going, not even feeling that he had brushed up against Dad… but it did damage to his car. Our daughter recommended to him to stay to the far right when making that left hand turn.
In those situations, I wonder what people were thinking. Probably many were thinking he was just an “old man” and he should get off the road.
Would any of them realize what kind of man my Dad was or what he had accomplished in his life? Would any of them know that he put himself through college, had a very successful 55-year career in construction and even won the prestigious American Subcontractors Association Special Achievement Award for the Metro Washington area? Or would they know he was the very first Eagle Scout in his town? Probably not. How could they?
What do we actually see when we see an older person driving a car? Someone who is too slow and needs to get out of the way of the rest of us so we can get to… where?… in such a hurry?
And it’s not just my Dad. There are veterans who are driving cars now. They fought and risked their lives and saw things that none of us should ever see so that we can live in a free world. But they are old now… and don’t move as quickly… and they are driving. And teachers (like my Mom) who dedicated their lives for 30 years in teaching people’s children. And they are older now and driving slower. Or firefighters who risked their lives to save others and were used to traveling down the road at a brisk pace… but as they grow older and retire, they don’t move at the same clip. The list goes on.
And do we know where they are going? My Dad was going to go see my Mom who had Alzheimer’s and have dinner with her… day after day. Do we think their errands or destinations are less important?
What do we see when we see these older people out on the roads? Just an old person… who needs to get out of my way?
Every life is valuable. Every life is important. From beginning to end. When we see an older person driving and they are holding us up from our more important appointment, perhaps we need to consider them as a person… and think about all that they have accomplished in their lives… things probably greater than anything I have accomplished in my life… and give them the honor and respect that they deserve.
That grey hair has paved the way for everyone that is coming behind them.
Jeff Becraft is the Interim Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].