When the Right Thing is the Hardest Thing or: He Had a Fast Car by
(89 Stories)

Prompted By The DMV

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Last year I learned that the DMV will suspend your license if you receive a diagnosis of dementia. You get a letter and are offered the chance to appeal their decision. Doctors are required by law to notify the DMV once the diagnosis is made, and so the letter may come as a surprise, depending on how aware a person is of their cognitive decline.

I learned this because it happened to my husband. Like anyone would be, he was devastated by the suspension. Against my protests, he launched a campaign to get his license back. I won’t go into the details of what he did and what happened next, but after one failure he passed the tests and got to drive again.

Earlier this year, another neurologist  gave him some tests and confirmed the diagnosis: FTD. If you don’t know what this is and have never heard of it, I can assure you that it affects a person in a variety of unsettling and surprising ways. Should he have been allowed to keep driving? He thought so, and once again tried to get his license back. But this time, he would not be allowed to test. It is a degenerative disease and nobody wanted him to put himself or anyone else in danger down the line.

Last week, I sold his car. We were both sad about it, but he has now realized it was for the best and I did the right thing.

I’m actually grateful that the DMV won’t allow him to drive anymore. It’s a big change, but we have learned about a great service in our area for seniors that beats Uber and Lyft for cost and convenience.

The burden falls on me to manage just about everything these days. Getting rid of the car and the stress around his driving was only one small step on the long road ahead.


This was a hard one to write, and a belated response to an earlier prompt.

Characterizations: moving


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    I just checked the “like” box, Risa, but I wanted to reach across time, space and this vast continent and give you a hug. Yes, difficult to write about, but thank you for your honesty. You have shared so many difficult moments of your life with us, this story included. Seeing a beloved partner slip away is not easy, but taking away his independence is equally challenging.

    My mother pleaded with me to NOT move her from her own apartment in her life care community to skilled nursing, even when I witnessed very disturbing indicators that she could no longer care for herself. I did as she requested until they found her crumbled on her bathroom floor the morning after the Oscar telecast, about 16 years ago. She wound up in the hospital for observation for a few days (she was OK), but the doctor insisted that she could no longer live alone, so the decision was made. She was, indeed, much better off, even though she was not happy with the move. And I watched as she continued to decline for several more years (she died 3 days before her 97th birthday, having no recollection if I was even married).

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thanks so much, Betsy. This was really the first time I’ve written about what’s going on, and I had very mixed feelings about sharing it. But I knew I would be safe doing it here, so thanks for your comments and the hug!

  2. A hard and painful story indeed for you to write Risa, and a hard one for us to read.

    Thinking of you and your husband as you both navigate one of life’s damn curve balls. ❤️

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thank you Dana for your kind words and thoughts. This is indeed a curve ball. I argued with myself about writing and publishing this, but felt it was a safe space to do so.

      • Dana Admin says:

        I’m glad you did Risa, and yes this is a safe space.

        When some of us have found ourselves in the same city – however briefly – we’ve met and even the first meetings felt like reunions with close friends, we’ve shared so much.

        You’re on the west coast, yes? Where?

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    I just saw this post and my heart goes out to you. You are not alone. I have seen dementia often as a medical professional, and both Sally and I have Alzheimer’s in the family and have a personal perspective. We are at the stage where we worry about every mental slip and what the future may bring—who will take care of whom, how to live as fully as we can. The DMV can indeed serve a useful role in protecting us even though it is painful. I join Betsy is a big virtual to you.

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