This afternoon as we're driving home, we stopped at a crossing to let an elderly man cross. He came up to the car and asks for a lift to his home. As it was raining we agreed.
A few moments into the drive he said "I've escaped from the old age home!" and giggled. We took him to the address he gave us and he climbed out saying "I built this house when I came back from the Second World War."
We said goodbye and watched him walk into the garden and round the back of the house. As we drove off, I felt a little niggle of intuition, Captain Awesome did a u-turn and we scanned the house as we drove past again. He was standing alone in the back garden.
The niggle became more of a prod. We headed back to where we picked him up and I went into the nearest aged care facility, just to check that he was allowed out. He had sounded completely lucid and didn't seem to be suffering from dementia or any of those things But he was quite frail and slightly unsteady. So just to set my mind at ease I felt the need to check.
I stood in the waiting area. It was so quiet. I couldn't find anyone, and headed down one of the corridors hoping to find a nurse's desk. I finally found an off-duty cleaner who took me through the whole facility looking for the duty nurse. As we walked I explained what had happened.
She stopped dead in her tracks and described the old man to me. I confirmed that was him. Her eyes grew wider and she said "Oh that's what he was saying to me when I cleaned his room."
FINALLY we got to someone who is able to help. As she walked us back to the reception area she told me how he is 95 and very hard of hearing and can't see very well. He had been moved in a few weeks ago and hadn't quite adapted to life in a rest home. His wife had just called to say she was bringing him back and I was thanked profusely for letting them know as they hadn't realised he has "escaped".
So yes, today we aided and abetted an escapee pensioner! This to me is one of those stories that is funny at the first glance and then you realise how sad it also is. I've been feeling quite emotional for him and his wife. To be separated like that, albeit for a good reason I'm sure, is just sad.
This feeling was compounded by the sight of the residents sitting in a semi circle waiting for a show to start, The performers had not arrived and the nursing staff were trying to find an alternative entertainment for them.