On the road with the mother load

Traveling with a person with absolutely no directional sense can be a challenge. My 89-year old mother is a case in point. Forget the adage that age and experience trump youth. Mom can’t read a road map. At all. Never could, even in her younger years.

Perhaps it’s because she didn’t get her driver’s license until she was in her 30’s. Even when she took flying lessons way back in college (and yes, they did have airplanes then), I can only conclude that her instructor guided her.  It’s a miracle that she never was able to solo. But that was only due to lack of money, not desire. Even so, her geographical impairment has followed her throughout her life.

Over the years, her sense of direction hasn’t improved. Particularly when reading road maps or an Atlas. That’s not a problem when I’m relying on the GPS app on my Smartphone. But when I’m driving and the directions from my phone die, Mom can’t help with a road map, relying instead on what I call the Granny Pointing System (GPS). My mother will point a finger right or left and say, “You need to go that-a-way.” Since she has severe Glaucoma, most of the time she is incorrect, and I give myself a mental shake so that I don’t lose my cool. I just pull over on the side of the road and study the map myself to get back on the right track.


We’ve had some travel adventures due to my mother’s inability to read directions. It doesn’t matter if we are on road trips in my home state of Florida, traveling the US or internationally she is clueless about directions. Geographically impaired. From dinosaurs to deserts, and ridges to bridges, we have driven all over creation.

Particularly on our trips abroad to Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, we have issues. Plenty of dead ends, roundabouts, and U-turns later, we get to where we want to go. Most of the time.

Failing eyesight finally forced her to surrender her driver’s license. She rails at the loss of her independence. I’m now her usual driver. But I tell her that I don’t mind because “I’m just driving Miss Crazy.”

Thank goodness both of us have a sense of humor. It comes in handy on our road trips.

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