I stood beneath a weeping willow tree with my husband, children, and a group of neighbors. We watched in silence as four men in a boat dragged a small pond in our neighborhood. Once they had snagged an object but it turned out to be a dead tree limb. I prayed they would not find her. I wanted to find Nana alive and well, not in a watery grave.
Six months ago, my sweet, demented eighty-year-old Nana came to live with my husband, two young children, and me. My parents had died in a plane crash when I was eight leaving Nana and Grandpa to raise my twin brothers and me. Grandpa had taken care of Nana, but his death left no one to care for her except me. A nursing home was out of the question. She was docile, but sometimes wandered away from home.
In the last six months, she had wandered outdoors three times. Our neighbors were wonderful. Aware of Nana’s mental confusion, they helped us look out for her. Nana loved flowers and often visited our next-door neighbor Norma’s rose garden. However, today, she had managed to elude everyone. Where could she be?
I retraced this morning’s events in my mind.
Our one-year-old son Billy had awakened my husband John and me at 6 a.m. Soon our two-year-old daughter Cindy and Nana joined us in the kitchen.
“How about pancakes this morning?” I asked.
Cindy clapped her hands, giggled, and said. “Patcakes.”
Nana rarely spoke but smiled and said, “Okay.”
Everyone cleaned his or her plate. At four foot six and eighty-five pounds, Nana had a healthy appetite. She was also flexible for her age and able to get around well.
After breakfast, I straightened up the bedrooms, and took a load of laundry to the laundry room in the basement. Back upstairs, I cleaned the kitchen while the family watched cartoons on television.
A short time later, I entered the family room. Nana and John were missing.
“Where’s Daddy?” I asked Cindy.
“Da Da gone.”
“Here I am.” John said sauntering down the hall with one of his Classic Trains Magazine.
“Where’s Nana? Did she follow you?”
“No. I left her here with the children. I was only gone five minutes. Besides, I thought you were keeping an eye on them.”
“Nana schweep.” Cindy lisped, pointing toward the bedrooms.
I hurried down the hall stopping to look inside each bedroom and every closet.
“I can’t find her, John.”
“She couldn’t have gone very far. Check the house again from top to bottom and I’ll look outdoors.
My heart raced. “Nana, where are you?” I shouted.
I telephoned the neighbors and alerted them. Within a half hour, thirty people had assembled in our front yard ready to search for Nana.
“Don’t’ worry. We’ll find her Nancy.” Hal Potter said patting me on the shoulder.
An hour passed—no Nana. John called the police but they had no luck in locating her, either. The only place left was the pond.
“Oh no, my poor Nana. I’ll never forgive myself if something bad has happened to her.”
“Let’s go home, Nancy.” John said. "They’ll let us know if they find her.”
Sobbing, I could only nod as John led me home.
Inside, I put little Billy in his playpen and John set Cindy down. She ran to her room.
John turned on the local news. They were discussing Nana’s disappearance.
“Please turn the TV off, John.” I whined.
Laying my head on my knees, I prayed for Nana’s safety.
A hand patted my head.
“Yes, Mama is worried about Nana.” I said wiping my eyes with a tissue.
“Nana schweep.” She said pointing towards her bedroom.
Suddenly, John stood up and rushed down the hall to Cindy’s bedroom. I followed him.
Standing by Cindy’s bed he pushed a button. The trundle bed rolled out. There was Nana laughing. John assisted her out of the bed. I hugged and kissed her.
“Oh Nana, I’m so glad to see you. I thought something bad had happened to you. I don’t know why I didn’t think to look here before.”
“Nancy, I better let the police know we have found Nana safe and sound. I’m a little embarrassed to tell them she’s been in the house the entire time. A big fuss has been made for nothing.”
“I’m sure they’ll understand.” I said pulling Nana close to me. “Our lost lamb has been found. Thank God, she is safe.”
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