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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
on his feast day, Sunday, June 13th, 2010.

I am up by 6AM. Dad has been missing for forty-six hours. I take my shower, check my email and begin with my plan for the day. I spend the early morning tracking down local media outlets—broadcast and cable television, radio, newspapers–and emailing them flyers. By 9AM I have contacted local channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and NJ 12 (who said they needed a press release from the police—that will be my first thing Monday morning, if we haven’t found him by then). I contact the NY Post and the NY Daily News. I don’t bother with the Times because this is happening in Jersey and they won’t care. If he is still missing tomorrow, I will also hit the local New Jersey newspapers—I can look them up and get their contact information when I get back tonight.

A bit past 9AM, I talk to the dispatch officer at the police station at the beginning of the day shift. The new platoon is out with pictures of Dad in their cars. My mom’s best friend Thea has made the same arrangements at the 110th Precinct in Corona, just in case Dad (somehow) did make there. It is looking less and less like a realistic scenario, but we all feel the need to cover all the bases. If I thought he could come up with the idea of flying somewhere, I’d have posted at the airports too. I just want to find him.
The dispatch officer assures me that they will notify us right away if they hear anything. In the meantime, he says, keep posting flyers, keep looking.

All the sibs have the flyer in their email inboxes, and all the sibs are forwarding it to their address books with instructions to pass it on. All of us on Facebook have forwarded the page I created last night. Alyssa made up her own page, using the same layout, and called it Help Me Find My Grandfather. She forwarded the link to all of her Facebook friends and they are in turn forwarding it to theirs. The page has over a hundred “likes” already, most of them Alyssa’s friends in Union. John and Cheryl are tweeting it on Twitter, Barbara is posting it on her fitness boards. Barb emailed me first thing this morning that she’d had a dream that their cat Dallas was missing. She said she found her on the side of Dad’s house, alive, buried in some snow.  Barbara says she is going to look by the side of Dad’s house this morning, again, just in case.

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. George takes me back to his house, where he and Glenn are working replacing a faucet, and Barb, Alyssa and I leave in Barb’s 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 Glenn’s 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.

(The elderly man that Barbara saw yesterday at 7AM by Union Station was the same elderly man that Patty, and then Glenn and George, saw today at 2PM. These were the only sightings throughout our entire search.)

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