Monday, May 23, 2011

“I can't help but ask myself how much I let the fear take the wheel and steer…” ...‘Drive’ by Incubus

I sometimes think I am my own worst enemy. I mean honestly, I really don’t need others to make me feel I cannot do something, I do a good enough job of that myself.  Self-doubt and fear sometimes has a way creeping into my mind, pulling up a chair and making itself comfortable. So taking the step to finally learn to drive was a huge deal for me. Every time I thought I should really learn to drive I’d always tell myself I was too afraid and couldn’t do it.  The older I got, the more afraid I got.  Maybe this is because most young people believe themselves to be invisible and have a ‘that could never happen to me’ mentality. Unfortunately or possibly fortunately, I never held this belief myself.

As I have mentioned in a previous post I lost my  Grandfather many years back, due to a serious car accident. The events of that fateful day forever tattooed in my memory.  I was only 10 years old at the time.  My brother and I where attending the Phillips work Christmas party (the company in which my Mum worked at the time) with My Dad’s cousins wife (who also worked there) and her kids.  My parents where not with us as they were to attend a wedding that day.   My dad’s cousin showed up at the end of the party to pick us all up. I can still see the expression on his face and remember the way his hands where trembling. Then his wife asked what’s wrong. He said ‘there’s been an bad accident’ He drove us all straight to the hospital. On the way to the wedding another car had hit my Grandfathers car. The other vehicle drove straight on into in a driver side door  and therefore straight into my Grandfather. My parents had been in the car following behind and because of this my Dad saw his own Father get hit. I didn’t know the details as yet so I still didn’t fully comprehend how ‘bad’ it all was, We walked the long white hallway on way the ICU and could just make out the blood shot eyes of my family standing at the end.  Mum took my hand and said ‘do you want into to go see Papa’. Of course I did…and in I went… what I saw next made me physically nauseous. There lying unconscious in the bed was my beloved Grandfather. Life support keeping him alive. Terribly bruised bandaged and battered. Tubes filled with blood running into his chest and later on holes that had been purposely drilled into his skull making parts of his brain visible in order to release fluid build up/ brain swelling.  Now this is an image that tends to stay with a kid. From a young age I had seen first hand the consequences of things that can go wrong on the road.  So unlike most teenagers I was never itching to get my drivers license. In fact the thought of it terrified me.  It took a long time for Grandfather to regain conciseness and even when he did it was a while before he even he could even recognise us again .He was left with permanent mental and physical injuries that eventually got the better of him. After two years of fighting for his life the medication he was on during a hospital stay had caused serious stomach ulcers that burst and ended his life.  My Dad got news first and called home, My brother answered the telephone. The sound of my brother’s tear filled screams …‘Papa’s died! Papa’s died!’ is something I will never forget.

Over the years that followed, two more people we knew died is car accidents. Family friends lost their son at the age of 21 when his car slammed into a light post and my brother lost a school mate who was actually hit when he pulled over to the side of a highway during a bad rain storm. All these events only adding to my fears.

So really it wasn’t until another tragic event the ‘Black Saturday’ fires back on Feb 2009 did something finally convince me that it was time for me to conquer this fear. Hubby was away in Echuca for the Southern 80 boat races and that’s when the proverbial hit the fan. I was not able to contact him all day to tell him to drive home another way, as most communications had gone down. I was home alone listening to all the reports on the radio and the seeing all the smoke in the distance was making me start to worry. Feeling that for the first time in my life, I wished I was able to drive. The thought of trying to flee a fire on foot with two dogs really hit home. This would not do!  It was a not long after this that I started to do some research to see if I could find a place that would allow me to drive on a track first, before driving out on the busy roads.  I figured the last thing I needed was to get into a situation where I felt so overwhelmed that I’d never want to do it again. Baby steps, my dear, baby steps.   Luckily I found a place not too far away and organised my first lesson with a wonderful driving instructor. I giggle now at how the car windows quickly fogged up from all the nervous heat/energy that must have been flowing from my body.  I think I had two or so lesson there before venturing out onto the roads.  Had a few set backs here and there one being terrible bout of Chronic Bronchitis that had me out of action for a few of months. But I got there in the end and it is now official that today, at the ripe old age of 35 I have finally gotten my driver’s license.  I was saying to my instructor the other day, that everyone one has something they are scared of be it, spiders or heights etc and driving I guess was my 'something'. Then she said to me yes but at least with those fears you only have to confront them once in a while, with my fear it was something that I had to confront everyday.  Which I guess is very true. Driving will never be something I love do to, but at least I now know I can drive when I need to, Yes the ‘fear’ of driving is no longer there, but the awareness for what can go wrong on the road will always be there and will hopefully make me a safer driver because if it.

Eddie Fisher

Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so good
No one could be, so gentle and so lovable
Oh, my pa-pa, he always understood.

Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
And with a smile he'd change my tears to laughter

Oh, my pa-pa, so funny, so adorable
Always the clown so funny in his way
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
Deep in my heart I miss him so today.