Last Saturday, I had all sorts of plans for the weekend.
I have moved into a new apartment and I really needed to get stuck into unpacking the last of the boxes and making it feel like a home rather than a student flat.
I have discovered the joys of Auckland's regional parks and was planning a three-hour tramp and a visit to the Clevedon farmer's market for a whitebait fritter on the way home.
There were friends to catch up with and recipes I wanted to try out.
However, all that went by the wayside when I got a call saying my mum was in Waikato Hospital.
My aunt told me they suspected a stroke, which is something Mum has always feared.
She's a bright, active, healthy 82-year-old who plays three rounds of 18-hole golf a week and enjoys her Bridge afternoons. She's fiercely independent and has been since she was widowed more than 20 years ago.
As I drove down the motorway to Hamilton, the what-ifs ran through my mind. What if she was incapacitated? She couldn't go into a rest home. I'd have to look after her. Would I be able to broadcast from Hamilton? Would I even be able to hold down my job if she needed constant care? By the time I hit Drury I'd decided that it was pointless agonising over the unknown. I could only control what I could control - and that was to get myself safely to Hamilton. Thanks to the new and improved highway, I was in Hamilton in no time at all and went straight to the hospital.
The good news was - and I'm not doing a Boag here and releasing confidential patient information - it wasn't a stroke.
The other piece of good news delivered by the doctors was that she could have medication that prevented her having another episode. But, the lovely doctor warned her, she wouldn't be able to drive for a year.
Mum took the news like a trouper. No, she said, "I'll surrender my licence. I've been driving since I was 15 and I've had a good run. I won't drive again." And with that, she was done. She was tormented by what might have happened if she'd passed out behind the wheel and knew she'd had a lucky escape. She was told the news on Sunday morning; she instructed me to put the car on Trade Me the moment we got home and the Mitsubishi Galant was sold within 43 minutes. I rather suspect we might have undersold it.
There was a lot of interest in it. Nico from Huntly asked us if we could drop it off and he would drive us back to the Tron but he ended up getting gazzumped by Todd, who is now the proud owner. It was such a relief that Mum came to the decision to give up her licence on her own. I know from talkback that many adult children have incredibly difficult conversations with their parents about whether they should still be driving. And I do understand how difficult it must be for older Kiwis to surrender their licences. It's the beginning of the end, isn't it?
The gradual loss of independence and the increasing reliance on other people. I could see by the end of the day on Sunday that Mum was coming to that realisation. But she's a positive wee thing and started listing all the positives that would come with not owning a car. And every day this week she's sent me news stories about people who've had terrible accidents after passing out behind the wheel, as she says it reconfirms she made the right decision. She's lucky that she lives in a city, that she's close to a bus stop, that she can walk down to the golf course and that she has an amazing network of friends who will gladly drive her to the supermarket or any appointments she might have. And my brother and I feel very lucky indeed to have such a sensible and pragmatic mother.