Thursday, May 15, 2008

Close to Home

We moved into a new job and new town last summer. Moving back to the Augusta area, and with family nearby, this has been the easiest move we have ever experienced. It’s especially been easy as we haven’t had to learn new roads, new stores, and all the stuff that tends to cause lots of trouble with daily life.

We do have a neighbor though who gets lost all the time. We first met Mr. A on a beautiful Saturday I was working in the front yard. Our road is a dead end, though it connects to a main highway, and also offers a side road that then connects to a larger subdivision.

Imagine your grandfather (or if you are younger perhaps your great grandfather) and you get the idea. He is very kind looking man with a ready smile on his 80+ year old face. When we’ve talked he carries on those most wonderful conversations full of stories of the past.

I’ve heard about his time in World War 2, & about carrying dispatches as a courier. I’ve heard of his wonderful vacations in Europe and the fun and he and his wife had at Oktoberfest. I’ve also heard about his last house and his job he retired from 20 years ago.

I learned all this while talking to him at his car.

You see Mr. A could recall all those vivid details about his past, and hasn’t a clue about his new address or his current phone number. Ask him and he’ll give you different answers each time. Every time I spoke with him he was lost and couldn’t find his way home.

That first Saturday I noticed as he came by the house numerous times. At first I thought he was looking at real estate as several homes are for sale. Then he started driving faster and more erratic.

This was the routine. Mr. A. turned around at the road entering into his subdivision directly in front of my house. He would drive into that road, hit the brakes, hit reverse rather quickly and head back the way he’d just come. Mr. A. drove the block out to the main highway, where he’d turn around taking a left into oncoming one way traffic, then came back to the subdivision entrance where he pulled in and backed out into the road to complete the circuit. He did this 5 times, then 10, then 20, then more. First we flagged him down and talked as we tried to figure out what was going on. We wanted to give the kindly old man the benefit of the doubt. Mr. A. couldn’t remember his new home address, and couldn’t find the right road though he knew he was close. He always talked some, in a friendly way never in too much of a hurry, but was eager to be on his way. He’d then continue the loop that went nowhere. Never getting closer to home, never being able to remember the address, but knowing he was close to where he needed to be.

A neighbor called the police the first time when Mr. A. almost hit him.

The second time we called after I lost count around 12 trips, and then he got close to 30 rotations before the deputy arrived.

The police have been called by other people over the last couple of months. The doctor still allows Mr. A. to drive, therefore the rest of us just try to help life in the neighborhood be as smooth as possible. We now know where Mr. A. lives and he seems to be doing better with his directions. Now we keep the map near the door and our eyes open to who's on the road just in case Mr. A. needs a little help.

After all, it's a sad thing to be so close to home, yet only going in circles.

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