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Decision to stop driving was quite an epiphany

This is all I know about cars: They come in different colors. My Grandpa Lawrence taught me how to drive when I was 13. If there's a "funny" noise, I turn up the volume on the radio.

My mother never had a car of her own until Dad died. None of the mothers on our street had access to a car unless their husbands walked to work, like the pharmacist, or took the bus.

We were lucky that John, our neighbor, worked at the airport. Sometimes his wife, Emma, drove him to work so she and my mother had a car for the day. The signal for Emma to pick John up was when he would circle his little plane three times around their house. Cool, huh?

These were the days of the Great Depression, World War II and gas rationing, so we walked a lot. But most every place in the village was walkable -- the library, church, school, the creek and Hutt's Dairy, where we'd sit for hours over a 5-cent cherry coke.

We had a lot of door-to-door goods and services, too. Art, the produce man with his truck, Hall's Bakery, Jones Dairy, Dates Laundry, the ubiquitous Fuller Brush man, a magazine man, twice-a-day mail delivery and morning and evening newspapers. Dad brought home the meat from Grandpa Wickson's butcher shop.

For serous shopping, my mother would walk to the bus stop. Serious shopping made my Dad very nervous, I think. My mother's mantra was "charge and send." But she and her friends loved Flint & Kent, AM&A's and J.N. Adams -- stores where there were always clerks available who were unfailingly polite and helpful. And then they would go to Miss Vincent's for lunch. My friends and I dined at Woolworth's.

Fast forward. Almost a year ago, my car and another one had a disagreement. I was on my way home from the last post-op appointment following a hip replacement. I survived, as you must have guessed, except for three broken ribs. Along with lumbar stenosis, borderline diabetes and being 82 years old, I had an epiphany. Something told me: "Nancy, get off the road." Without exception, my friends remarked: "You've lost your independence!"

Like I didn't know that? But my doctor was 100 percent supportive and wished more people like me would make that choice.

C'mon. Don't you feel safer with me off the road?

Is it inconvenient? Sure, but there are compensations. Our wonderful Amherst Senior Center van charges only $3 round-trip so I can get to my classes. I've belonged to the same church for 82 years and there are many kind souls who see that I get there and to our Bible class.

Four of my five girls live out of town and we e-mail on a daily basis. Betsy keeps me in DVDs and the Sunday New York Times. Jo (don't repeat this!) gave me a subscription to the Enquirer. Try explaining that to your mailman. Sue and Sally keep me in laughs.

My twisted old teacher pals insist on e-mailing the latest warped jokes. And there is lunch at the Eagle House or the Creekview or a movie or new book. Since Cris is the only daughter who lives here, she does everything else and is headed for sainthood.

Oh, there are times I miss driving. I was in the middle of making a (sour) cherry pie recently when I realized I was out of almond extract. Fortunately, there were no little people within earshot.

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