In the Catholic Church, June 13th is the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua. He is the patron saint of lost things; my father was named for him.
I had hoped that Saint Anthony would bring us back our missing dad.
I head back to New Jersey to look for Dad again. We will post more flyers, check hospitals and shelters again, talk to more people.
At this point, we know that if Dad hasn’t been taken into an ER or shelter by someone, his mobility will be limited, he will be exhausted, hungry, dehydrated, off his meds for more than forty-eight hours. Our best hope for finding him is that he is resting somewhere—a park bench, bleachers, a shady spot under a tree. We covered that ground yesterday and will do it again today. We’re going to visit some of the same places, in case there are new people there who don’t know about Dad.
Before I leave, I email Nancy and ask her to find email addresses for Our Lady of Sorrows and P.S. 19 in Corona, and send them the flyer with a note. I ask her to get email addresses for the hospitals and shelters on her call list, and send them the flyer. Everyone at these places is aware that we are looking for Dad; it will help keep him in the front of their mind if they have a picture to refer to, and the knowledge that there is a family who desperately wants to find him. Barbara offers to fax the flyers from work to any place that doesn’t have an email address.
I make my usual trip to New Jersey: the LIRR/Murray Hill to Penn, NJT from Penn to Newark, Raritan Valley line to Roselle Park. George and Glenn pick me up at the station at ten before noon, and we stop at Overlook Hospital (formerly Union Hospital) on the Chestnut Street side, and I run into the ER to see if anyone has seen Dad today.
The guy at reception today is the same guy who was there yesterday, and he still hasn’t seen Dad and there have been no John Does admitted. Our flyer is posted on the wall behind the desk, behind the thick Plexiglas window that separates him from me. I use the hospital rest room and go back out to the car.
We cover a lot of the same ground, the cemetery again, the parks, the hospitals, the shops. We put up more flyers.
At 2:02 PM, my cell rings. It’s George. Patty from Café Z thinks she saw Dad near the Lowe’s on Morris Avenue in Union. It’s two miles from his house, but Dad has walked that far in good weather many times. George and Glenn each get into their cars and separately approach the location Patty described from opposite sides of Morris Avenue. They don’t want to miss him.
Walter calls me at 2:08 and I tell him about the sighting. I am talking with both him and Janet when Glenn calls me. I switch to his call.
“I see him!”
Glenn slows the car down and comes around next to where the elderly man is standing by the side of the road.
It’s not Dad.
George is coming up in the other direction, sees Glenn’s car, sees the old man, sees it’s not Dad. They go to Café Z to tell Patty, and to thank her. It’s the only real glimmer of hope we’ve had in fifty-four hours. They go back to the house, deflated.
At 2:24, Patty calls my cell.
“Claudia, I’m so sorry…”
“Patty, I am so grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, from all of us.”
“I’ll keep an eye out. Again, I am so sorry.”
I appreciate that she cares enough about my family and what is happening to us to give us what would have been a lifeline that we might have missed, if it had been Dad, and if she hadn’t called.