Today is my mother’s birthday. It started off like any other Sunday morning. We got up, got dressed, and headed to church with my parents. We carpool to save on parking space since it is limited. But one street over my mom gasps, “There’s a man in the ditch,” and my dad slams on the breaks. He puts the van in reverse and we back up. Sure enough there is an elderly man lying in the ditch. It looked like he’d been out walking and fell. His face was scratched and cut up, he’s bleeding and the knees of his pants are cut and torn.
So we pile out of the van and help the man up. He’s talking and telling us he lives down the road a piece. My parents decide to give him a ride to his home because it is terribly cold out and he doesn’t have a coat on. We head off again, but he doesn’t live at the houses up the road. He says he lives on Spring Street, but there isn’t a Spring street off the road we are on. So we turn into a subdivision and begin searching for a Spring Street. There isn’t one. We go all the way through to the new phase of this subdivision that ends up on a different road and so we loop back to where we found him. While my dad is driving, I pull out my smart phone and do a quick GPS search for Spring Street, but find the closest one is clear across the city in the West part of town. There is no way this old man walked in the cold, without his coat from there to where we are. My mom starts asking him questions to find out if maybe he is visiting family. He gives us a name of a woman he lives near, but he can’t tell us where she lives. So we did the next thing we could think of. We called 911 thinking the police would be able to locate his family since he may have hit his head and wasn’t thinking straight. The 911 operator asks him a few questions and wants to know if he has identification on him. He gives her his name and pulls out his wallet, but there is no identification in it. I’m beginning to wonder if he was out walking when he fell or if someone had abducted him, robbed him, and threw him out of the car. Overactive writers imagination kicking in? You never know.
By this time a white station wagon has pulled up to our van and we could tell the woman recognized the man. I’m on the phone with 911 again, they called me back to get more info on the man. The woman was so grateful we had come upon him. She said this isn’t the first time he’s gotten away from them, but it had been about four years since he did it. They have an alarm on the door, but his sister whom he is living with, must have slept through the noise. We told her he said he lived on Spring Street and she said he did, but that was when he lived in North Carolina and that he had been talking about going home a lot lately and I guess that is where he was going, back to North Carolina (he was headed in the right direction, by the way). The woman who came to find him said she was going to take him to the hospital and have him checked out even though he kept telling us he didn’t need an ambulance.
I’m glad we came along when we did and were able to help. All I can say is bless his heart and the people he lives with who are his care givers. My grandmother had dementia before she died, but she never tried to run away. She would forget she’d eat and want to eat again and again. I’ve heard others who forget they are hungry so they don’t eat and end up starving themselves.
We finally made it to church after we went back home for my dad to change shirts. He’d gotten blood down the front of it when he was helping the old man up. He decided to stay home (he has a thing about going in late to anything), so we went on without him. What a day! I know it is a birthday my mom won’t forget. She laughed and said it made her think of what she had to look forward to as she gets older.