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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Much Ado about Nothing (not about the play) (07/28/11)

TITLE: The Search
By Patricia Protzman


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.

“Mama cwy.”

“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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This article has been read 358 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Goergen08/05/11
Oh my goodness can I relate to this, whether this is a true account or not it is certainly close to an actual experience I had myself this week!

My mom is in the hospital having surgery and I have been caring for dad who is 86 and has diminished brain function since a stroke about 8 months ago, by myself this week and I left him alone for 10 minutes, sitting in my recliner, telling him to stay put until I could take care of necessary needs for myself and when I came back he was gone! I ran to upstairs and looked and then to his house next door and he was nowhere to be found, then I thought maybe he went down the driveway to get the mail - so I wasted 10-15 searching all the wrong places – but when I came back up the driveway I saw him laying by an old shed of ours and he had somehow (will never know where he got the strength!) moved a ladder laying on the ground there, up against the wall and tried to climb it and fell! I called paramedics and he was taken to ER and praise God he only had bruising and sore ribs but nothing serious - and like this story I was so happy he was okay, I forgot all about being upset with him! LOL
We too have a pond and was I dreading looking there, when I saw him - so you’re story is so realistic!!

Let me tell you caring for elderly parents (or grandparents) with diminished reasoning is more difficult than anyone can imagine until they do it!
Noel Mitaxa 08/06/11
Anxiety filled with love and faith. This is a beautiful slice of life across the generations. LOved it.
Jacky Hughes08/08/11
Having worked in a retirement home for five years I know all about wondering where someone with dementia has gone to. We find them in all sorts of places and usually oblivious to the fact they were lost in the first place. You capture the worry and relief well. I found this really went through the emotions of the family as they search.