Melanie Bishop

29 thoughts on “I Would Have Driven Her Anywhere

  1. This made me sob. So beautiful, Melanie. I’m so sorry for your loss, and so proud of your publication in Modern Love!. Congratulations.

  2. This is so beautifully written. As of this week my mother has entered a new phase of her dementia. A really big dive. In a few days my sister will remove her belongings from assisted living and she will be in a nursing home. I don’t know when I will be able to write about this. Not now. I am sad every day being away from her and will fly there soon, but I believe she is already lost to me.

    Thank you for writing.

  3. My mother has been dead for 34 years and this article made me weep like the day she died. You really nailed what if feels like to miss your mom and wish you could do anything for her again. Good job and thank you.

  4. Melanie, Thank you for your essay. It was exquisite and well timed.
    My father died one week ago. After our mom passed, my sister and I moved him up to our area to a lovely brand new Assisted Living facility a year and a half ago. It was indeed, difficult. I work full time at a very stressful job and had little time to take care of my own needs, so my home is filled with endless unaddressed piles. It was frustrating. He would complain about almost all food put in front of him, making it less than gratifying to cook for him. It was so much fun! He became my buddy. He and I would try out new breakfast restaurants every Sunday, and then spend the day exploring. In my mom’s 17 year old Lexus, I drove hime to the coast, to gaze at the shimmering water of the bay, to smell the forests, to roll over the green or golden hills depending upon the season, and we wound our way to to the top of Mount Diablo. We spent a few nights with stunning ocean views in Pismo Beach where we could see humpback whales from the hotel balcony. On Father’s day, we happened upon a California mission’s 220th anniversary complete with live Mexican music from the 1800’s, food, and beer. He watched the dancing in the tree shaded courtyard sitting in his super comfy walker chair. We stepped back in time when we made the rounds of one of his old Navy bases, Mare Island. We saw a group of hikers with llamas at the regional park. We marveled at the shallowness of the the San Francisco Bay. We ate halibut, oysters, calmare, and clam chowder- his favorite, being from New England. I made him fried dough, we hung out at my house, and my sister, he and I had pizza and beer at his apartment while we watched his beloved Red Sox win the world series last month. He waited in the car while I bought cases of Ensure for him at Costco. We had birthday celebrations. During his time near us he went blind in one eye, had increasing needs for supplemental oxygen, and traded in his cane for a walker, then the walker for a motorized scooter for two prescious weeks of a little more freedom, and finally, we pushed him where he wanted to go in a wheelchair for three more weeks. We both said “I love you” and “Thank you” a lot. I loved having him be a more integral part of my daily life, even when he didn’t laugh at my jokes, when he thought the food sucked, when having to lug the walker or wheelchair in and out of the trunk of the car, and even when my own unaddressed laundry, finances, exercise, and cleaning inspired my own complaints.

    You could not have said it better than you did with the title of your article.
    It was really hard, yet I would do the entire year and a half over in a heartbeat.

    Thanks again Melanie.

    • Wow, Lisa, what a great story you’ve told here. How wonderful that you had all those times with him, even if he was being difficult. And what a great thing that he got to see the Red Sox win the World Series! I know what it feels like in that one week time period and I really feel for you as you navigate that raw and ragged and agonizing place–the loss of our parents. It’s huge. Your letter means a great deal to me. I’m so glad my essay resonated with your experience. I think you have your own lovely essay to write one day. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  5. beautifully written. thank you.

  6. Hello. I live in Tucson and lost, first my mother in 2013, and then my father, who had dementia, in 2015. Today, I came across your outstanding essay (and that great accompanying illustration). There isn’t a day that goes by, that I’m not reminded of my father and all that we went through together as he lived and declined; all the idiosyncrasies, the assisted living debacles, and the final last stand, memory care. I, too, was his chauffeur and can’t begin to tell you the memories I felt as I read the description of your mother getting to, and into the car. Like you, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him and nowhere I wouldn’t drive him – – all over again. Thanks for sharing your memories. Oh, yes, and for the good cry.

    • Dear Stacey, You are so kind to tell me all this. It means a great deal to me. One of my sisters just called me, crying, right after reading it, and you’re the 10th reader now to write me saying it made them cry. This caring for our parents is agonizing at times, yet we’d give anything to do it again. And it’s one of those universal experiences that unite us as humans. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  7. This really resonated with me especially with the car and shopping.

  8. Dear Ms. Bishop, I just finished reading your lovely story “I Would Have Driven My Mother Anywhere” to my sister. We both were so touched with your words. We cared for our Mother that had dementia for many years and the article really help us remember the good times we took our Mom for errands to the bank, to the grocery store, to get her hair done, etc. It is so true that you need to look at calendar to see how long your Mother has been gone because it always seems like just last month. Thank you so much for your lovely article.

  9. The last paragraph made my cry and my mother has been dead for 11 years. But whenever I see a Camaro, her favorite car, or hear its engine idling next to me at a stoplight, I can see her again, and imagine it is her foot on the gas pedal as that Camaro pulls away. Thank you for sharing your beautiful goodbye to your mother.

    • Dear Acwynn,
      This is beautiful. Thank you so much for writing to me. That your proximity to a Camaro can transport you to that place of your mom and her favorite car–just so very poignant. I’ve been surprised by how many readers have similar stories to tell. That line about “her foot on the gas pedal…” is just wonderful in the way it takes someone we love who is gone from this plane, and animates them, puts them in motion. THANK YOU for this note.

  10. Pingback: Thank you, kind readers. | Melanie Bishop

  11. The title said it all, and sent me dizzyingly back to my last, painful memories of my mother. My mother did not suffer from dementia, but she made demands that aging forced upon her, and my busy schedule made it difficult to address, as I now so wish I could have. So thank you, Melanie Bishop, for articulating the longing that all daughters feel , in one way or another, about our mothers. And the fierce attachment that we have to their “objects” — for me, it’s not a car, but an old wooden handled fork. Whenever I can’t find it, I am beside myself.
    Cathy Bernard

    • Dear Cathy,

      Thanks so much. These letters from readers mean so much to me. I love the particular of the “old, wooden-handled fork”–these details that are just so very poignant in all of our personal stories. And yes, daughters and mothers–complicated and gorgeous. I love this line: “Whenever I can’t find it, I am beside myself.”
      Thanks again for writing.

  12. Thank you for share your experience, I feel identified. My grandmother was very independent but on last two years he lost speech. It was difficult to accept but now when I see in perspective, I think it was the best, ‘cause I am sure, she is really in a better place. It is about closing cicles and open new ones. Greetings from Mexico City.

  13. Thank you Melanie! My mom is 89 years young and still lives on her own. It’s a challenging situation. I’m the oldest of three daughters and her primary caregiver. I quit a full time job to help her. I’m glad to have found your blog.

  14. My sister, also a Melanie, mailed me your article and enclosed it with our Mom’s financial mail. I’m in Prescott and they’re in LA, so I’m not involved in as much of the day to day drama as my sister is. But we both appreciated your words, and the thoughtful and loving reflections on the little things that remind us of what matters.

  15. Melanie, I’ve read your story many times. It is such a comfort to me. I love the humor, the warmth, the grace. Thank you so much for writing it. As someone who has inherited cars from both parents, I could appreciate how the death of the car brings back to life the eternal presence and the everlasting ache.

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