I started this blog earlier today, never suspecting that I would feel an urge to write in such a public forum again so soon. But sometimes life sends you stories that make your heart beat too fast, your mind race. For me, writing is the first option in dealing with that discomfort.
Over the past twenty-four hours, I have been hearing on the local radio news broadcasts that Robert D. “Bobby” Johnson, a 72 year old man with early stage dementia, has been missing in downtown Bellingham since Saturday, January 21.
I don’t know Bobby, but I am “holding him in the Light,” as the Quakers say.
I’m hoping he’s been restored to his family by now. How frightening for all of them.
If Bobby is still missing, I want to know how to help in the search. This afternoon, radio announcers called for people in a certain neighborhood to search their yards and out buildings. I’m listening now to every news break, hoping he showed up in someone’s garage.
For Photo and newspaper report: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/01/26/2368141/police-looking-for-72-year-old.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy
About twenty years ago, I got a call as a caregiver from my supervisor at the agency where I was employed. There was an emergency need for someone to go spend the night with a lady, “Anne,” at an Assisted Living facility. Anne had Alzheimer’s, and had been sent to a doctor’s appointment on a paratransit bus. At the end of her appointment, she went downstairs to the lobby to wait for her ride home. Before the bus arrived, she wandered off, on a Friday afternoon. Police and family searched for her, and located her, dug into a pile of dirt at a construction site, on Sunday afternoon. The family was exhausted and the Assisted Living would not allow her to remain in their facility without supervision. I went for the night.
Ann’s only memory and concern about the weekend was that she did not enjoy being checked out for hypothermia at the local hospital, citing a strong prejudice against
“the nuns” working there. We have a Catholic hospital in our town, but the nurses have not been nuns for quite awhile. Ann’s son was especially exhausted from the search. He told me he was furious with the local police because they told him to go home, that it was unsafe for him to be in the downtown alleys at 2 a.m. The insensitivity to the potential of danger to his mother really stuck in his craw.
Meeting Ann and her family stuck with me, and became the seed for the novel I am almost finished writing. After living with this story so close to my heart for so long, I can’t help being a bit obsessed about Bobby. What are the police doing? What is the family doing? What is the media doing? In my novel, I despair over the lack of help from the media in Seattle hunting for my fictional “Annie.” As a writer, I’ve worried that I am overdoing that. But now reality bears me out. In this day of tweets and facebooks and instant media, why are we a week late in organizing a good community search?
For children, we have Amber Alerts. A child would not be lost a week before we asked people to start looking. In Texas, they have “Silver Alerts.” Something to work toward?