Sunday, August 28, 2005

Trial Run

I sat there trying to crack a joke.

What else could I do--bright lights in an office that I was unfamiliar with, unfamiliar people walking the halls and talking in whispers, posters on the bulletin board that spoke of the hazards of the job: first picture depicting a speed boat and smiling people; the second, a frazzled fuzzy chihuahua with watering eyes...

And then he asked me what I wanted them to do.

It began with a phone call--as most things in this lifetime do and will. I was driving to the sanctuary, head filled with all matter of joyous activities I could begin and finish with my first day free of kids as school had begun. Tackling the garden by the nutrition center was going to be my first stop; second stop would be the gardens at Lynn's office. I knew she would hate my trimming the privet and abelia but they had gotten entirely too friendly with passersby with long, reaching branches that touched bellies and bottoms in passing. Finally, I would try to make it to the clinic gardens.

The call was from Misty. Her voice sounded tense and business like--not the friendly "what doin'?" kind of call. Immediately I was concerned--she never calls during the day because of work.

"Dad's missing." she said. Maybe she said more but that's all I heard. I pulled to the side of the narrow back road.


She then began the story of dad not being heard from since Monday (this was Wednesday). My heart began a new beat--one surrounded with fear; my spirit fled my chest towards the hill country, reaching for Daddy, heading northwards, exploding in all directions.

Leaving the sanctuary I screamed to God, "you can NOT have my daddy right now", over and over. Anger flooded my head and body. "Not today, not now, NOT NOW NO!!!!!"

Eventually, after making numerous phone calls, getting to town and asking those who know dad when was the last time they saw him and heading back to his office, it was time to go to the police. The city police couldn't do anything as he lives in the county, so I ended up at the county sheriff's department, in Bob Sloan's office.

Bob was tall, bald, and walked like a seasoned professional. He was intimidating but had kind eyes. Sitting in his office, I told him what I knew about dad and that the concern was his heart and that something had gone wrong.

Information was needed to begin the missing person's report--a 'welfare check'. Birth date? Who could do math under these circumstances... mom was 24 when she had me, dad was 4 years older than she was at the time, I'm 42... hell, I didn't know... we guessed as closely as we could and Deputy Sloan went to another office to see what he could find on dad.

I put my head down in my hands to take some deep breaths, trying not to cry, wishing I wasn't there.... Deputy Sloan walked back in, tapped me on the shoulder saying "C'mon, sit up, everything's going to be ok."

Needing to know what car dad was driving, we had to go back to dad's office. Rummaging through his desk, we found papers from the other cars on the lot but not what he was driving. Another officer arrived and helped me by going through the file cabinets.

Frantic by this time, almost overwhelmed, sweating, almost cursing, a man runs up and says "Didn't Carol tell you? Your dad is with my dad." We all came to a stand still, looked at the guy, mouths open. "No, no one has told us anything."

Calling the man's father's cell phone, dad got on the line, "What's up honey." Maintaining calm, I said, "Dad, I want you to know I have the county sheriff's department out looking for you." He chuckled. He had gone with his friend to a car auction in Abeline. It let out late, so they decided to stay and come back early today. He didn't think anything of it.

He asked where I was. "In your office..." was all I could say. Chuckling, he said, "Why honey, if I knew you were going to visit, I would have stayed home."