I've thought hard about this article for over three weeks now and it is a difficult subject to admit, much less write about.
In N. America there are several major life events that are inescapable and looked forward to as being "life changers."
The first is your 16th birthday...the time when you are eligible to apply for a driver's license. This is the one I wish to discuss this morning.
Most of you are aware that both Leah and I are legally blind. She was born that way and will be the same without change all of her life. Ten years ago, I began developing glaucoma, a hereditary disease that causes a progressive disintegration of the retina.
I inherited this from my grandfather, a Marine Corps Bird Colonel. The last 15 years of his life he couldn't recognize people at three feet until they spoke.
He was buried with a valid California driver's license in his pocket. When I first began presenting with this affliction, I vowed that I would do the same. I have carried a driver's license for 50 years and it was good until the middle of next year.
I gave up driving four years ago after I hit the same construction barricade the third time. My grandfather would sneak out regularly and go to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot golf course in San Diego. Two weeks before he passed away, he hit the only hole-in-one of his life. The plaque honoring Col. Floyd Bennett still hangs in the pro shop at MCRD.
I am slightly more sensible than the Colonel (but not much). Leah has told me many times that if she ever catches me behind the wheel of anything, she will call 911. I am also friends with the majority of the Guelph police force and have been told on more than one occasion, that if I'm seen driving anything more powerful than a bicycle, I will be immediately arrested, friends or not. They are still debating my ability to drive a bike safely because I have absolutely no depth perception and worse balance.
Now that I am a resident of Canada, there are many times that they want a photo ID. My Arizona driver's license was barely acceptable, but still acceptable. Canada Post finally accepted it when I would pick up a package, but gave me a really hard time about it.
Three weeks ago, I broke down and applied for the Ontario Photo ID card which is accepted all over the Province (and the country) as a valid identification. BTW, it costs $35CAD here to get ID. Not free like most places in the U.S.
Nevertheless, in order to process my application for Ontario photo ID, I had to surrender my American driver's license because you cannot have more than one government ID in Canada. It makes sense, but it hurts. It broke a 50-year chain of identification and made absolutely certain that I could not, like my grandfather, sneak out and drive to the golf course or anywhere else.
Bottom line, I no longer hold a valid driver's license from anywhere, and I know that I am absolutely incapable of passing a driving exam (or even vision test) at any American DMV or even Canadian.
The rite of passage to drive a vehicle is no longer an option for me.