I've always admitted that there is a divide between my real life and my blog life. It's not that I am not honest on my blog. I am prone to an occasional rant against constant baby talk or people who don't spay or neuter their pets, but for the most part I keep my blog life neatly controlled under vintage dresses and sarcasm. Sarcasm covers a plethora of personal struggles.
And then today, in a moment of panic, my personal life and online life met in violent crash.
My Mom called me at lunch to say that my Dad was missing. My Dad has suffered from a slow form of Alzheimer's for many years and those are words you never want to hear. I know it has happened before; people with dementia wandering off, and yet, that knowledge is no comfort as you play the 'what if' game in your head. I was at work and immediately set off with my co-worker and dear friend, Dorothy, to drive through the neighbourhoods around my parents' house. My Dad always goes for little walks and I assumed that we would find him shortly. I was worried but the police were canvassing the area and by this time some of my bosses and community members were also out in full force... looking for the guy in the turquoise shirt. And then 2 hours turned into 3 hours and the sense of urgency got higher. My Dad would probably just keep walking until he was found and because he 'looks' normal, no one would think to approach him and so he would just walk on, without water or food. Then when 3 hours turned into 4 hours, we turned to social media. I never thought I would say this but google groups, facebook and twitter are my new best friends. If you know my family in real life, you will know that we are a private family. I admit I can over share under the power of a glass of wine but we bear our struggles and deal with our family issues in amongst ourselves, so for us to post big 'Where's my Papa?' messages on Facebook was a huge deal. Soon we had church members, bus drivers, former co-workers and current co-workers all keeping their eyes open for my Dad. If my Dad wasn't found soon, it was going to hit the local media and we were going to start working on an organized search. But when 4 hours turned to 5 hours, someone received a text message from their wife (who had seen something online) to be on the look out and he happened to see my Dad... a long way from home.
And so my Dad is safely home, exhausted after almost 5 hours of walking, presumably with no food or drink. I too am exhausted, thrilled to have my Dad back home safe (apparently he was walking to our house? Which cements my status as favourite and only daughter) but aware of the changes that will affect our lives as a result. It's easier to live in a little bubble. My Dad and I have a great relationship, I often take him out thrifting, for a walk or for a fancy lunch (anything is fancy to Dutch immigrants...) but I like to pretend it is never going to get worse and my Dad will be the one guy who gets cured. Everyone tells me their stories of their grandmother or great grandfather who has Alzheimer's and how they would do cute things like leave the tea towels in the bathroom and I bitterly (and selfishly) think 'This is my Dad! He's not old like your grandmother...'.
But this is our reality. I can't make him better. I can thank God for his safe return. I can spend time with my family. I can open myself up to help from the community. I can keep Twittering...ok, I hope I never have to post an urgent message again...
But for the outpouring from the community I am extremely thankful. This is the part of my life hidden under thrifted sequins.