They were not kidding when they said “parenting is not for sissies.” My Saturday morning started with a quick drive to Tuscaloosa to pick up number two daughter. She was not feeling well. My Saturday evening ended with me sleeping on a plastic loveseat with a plastic pillow while our daughter recovered from an appendectomy. We are so thankful that we have so many wonderful doctors and hospitals in Birmingham and I am lucky that my daughter wants me to stay and look after her. I am also thankful that she is feeling better and eager to get back to her internship in Greensboro.
But my parenting skills did not end after we got most of our kids home and under one roof. After a good nap and in an attempt to avoid the grocery store for one more day, I am off to the mega warehouse store to pick up a few things in anticipation of a beach trip just around the corner. Life is good. Kids are happy and then the phone rings. Isn’t that always the way it happens. Life is good and then the phone rings…
Dad is missing. WHAT?! He has been gone for an hour and they have no idea where he is! This could not possibly be happening to me. This sort of thing only happens on the news and it only happens to other people!
Obviously I am off to my parents’ place. Luck was on my side and all seven lights between Brookdale and my house were green. As I passed the overpass to hwy 31, I begin looking for my dad along Lakeshore. At the same time I am calling Brookdale to make sure they have been alerted that Dad is off the radar. Mom has already contacted the Homewood police and the sitter is roaming the building looking for my dad. I am in search and rescue mode.
We have all been in this situation before. Right? I know I have been in this mode on more than one occasion with my twins when they were toddlers. I think we lost them in Let’s Get Organized in Homewood, the Botanical Garden and then there was that awful time at the SanDestin Beach Resort! Fortunately all ended well and we lived to tell the story. And of course we still remind them of these stories many years later.
This time I am envisioning a large sign hanging over hwy 459 that says missing elderly man. Last seen wearing wool slacks and a long sleeve plaid shirt. At least he was not wearing his normal red cashmere sweater on this day with heat warnings.
No sign of Daddy on Lakeshore and then the phone rings . . . he has been found. Many prayers were sent up to heaven at that point. I went from the Please, Please, Please prayer that we Episcopalians do to the Thank You ,Thank You, Thank you prayer. Remember, I missed church because of a rough night on a plastic loveseat at the hospital!
Dad was snoozing in his chair in their apartment at Brookdale. No big deal. Nothing out of the ordinary. REALLY!? He insisted that he was sitting on the balcony of his apartment the whole time. The sitter and my mother give me the look that says “No, he was not!”
So . . . I play along. I brought the case of wine that was requested. I was beginning to think I might have a glass! Dad was hungry. After all, it was around 3 and he had not had lunch. I am so thankful that this story ended with a grumpy hungry man in a hot apartment at Brookdale and not me wandering the trail along Lakeshore looking for my dad. All was good. No flashing sign would be added to our highways advertising that we had lost my dad. My sister would return from her vacation and not have to join a search party. My mom could sit in her chair and silently cuss him out for scaring the life out of her and us!
It was a good day, after all.
Will we make some changes? You better believe it! I have already talked to the Homewood police and was disappointed to learn that there was no program available to keep up with wanderers. However, they confirmed that my mom should have called them before she called me. They look for and find wandering dementia patients all the time. Apparently there is an entire club of wanderers out there!
We already have Medic Alert. This is a great option that allows my parents to wear a charm or a tag that spells out all of their health issues. Tomorrow I plan to contact Medic Alert and add the feature for wanderers. It will cost a bit more but isn’t it worth it! We could never live with ourselves if we scrimped on a few dollars and then could not locate my father. Easy decision for me and hopefully no illuminated signs in our future.
It was a good day, after all.