When I’m driving free
The world’s my home
When I’m mobile
My Mum died almost exactly three years ago. She was 89 and a half, had been in poor health for some years and always said she didn’t want to be 90, so she got her wish. When I think of it, though, her life had started its end at the beginning of 2014, when her bus stop was moved.
At the end of the 1990s, my family upped sticks and went to live in Yeovil. My Mum had her first own house, all by herself, and she was so proud of it. I think those were golden years for her. She did so many things she had longed to do – including volunteering with the National Trust at Montacute House,
and joining the Church of England, becoming part of the congregation in an ancient church building:
…and pop to town every day by bus, using her free pensioner’s bus pass. In town she poked around the shops, bought a slice of ham for her lunch or a Bramley apple turnover at Marks and Spencer’s for her tea and then caught the bus back home again, feeling she had been somewhere and done something. She got to know the drivers and became friends with other regular passengers
In spring 2014, the bus stop was moved about 400m metres further from her house, out onto the main road. It was too far for Mum to walk there and back. We did all we could, including writing to her Member of Parliament, but to no avail. The answer from the bus company was this was due to EU regulations.
That was a lie.
She said she would take a taxi into town, but of course she didn’t. Because it wasn’t so much the going to town as the chatting, and the being part of life and not being alone. By August that year we had sold her house and she had moved into a Care Home.
A few weeks ago I saw a notice in our local paper that our Bürgerbus, Citizens’ bus, was looking for more volunteer drivers. There are now over 350 Citizens’ bus services zooming all over Germany. You can read more about them and how the whole thing is organised – in English – here:
I slid the page over to Horst and said, “Wouldn’t that be something for you?”
and before I knew it, he was calling the number and then emailing to make an appointment to meet the organisers. This being Germany, all sorts of things had to happen – the police had to confirm that he isn’t axe-murderer and he had to undergo a special medical assessment – all of which he passed successfully and got his ‘Personenbeförderungsschein’ – the document which means he is allowed to drive passengers.
After learning the route and being shown the ropes, he undertook his first shift last Thursday. I’m so excited for him, and for his passengers. I know they will not only be driven from A to B but also that he will be kind and helpful to them – and have them roaring with laughter as they speed through the countryside.
I wish my Mum had had something like this. It would have made all the difference.
The Cabin Fever part: