This afternoon's bright sunshine drew me out of the house for an extended chocolate death walk. I pootled round my route, then bumped into Ziggy practicing staff outside his house. It was so glorious and such a pleasure to be out that I decided to do the actual chocolate bit of the death walk and set off for the garage arm in arm with Ziggy's girlfriend to buy an ice lolly.
On our way home, ice creams in a bag we saw an elderly gentleman coming towards us. Well dressed and with visible gold jewelery and watch but no coat something seemed amiss and as we reached the man he asked us for directions to the local police station. He stood in the road as he asked us, and told us of the men who had taken over his home and trapped his wife in it. He was quite confused and most insistent he just wanted to know how to get to the police station.
There is no police station in our town, and the next one is a couple of miles down the road, only manned part time so we insisted he could use my mobile phone to call, or that we would take him there if he wished. By this time we'd already established that although he knew his name, he didn't know where he lived, where he was or where he wanted to go and neither of us felt we could leave him stood confused and vulnerable on the side of the road.
I dialled 999 and was put through to the police, explaining the situation to the man in the control room. I stressed the vulnerability of the gentleman and how we'd found him just wandering and confused and asked for someone to come as soon as they could. Having given my name and address and established that the gentleman would come with us, I said that we would take him back to my house and make him a cup of tea whilst we waited for the police. Given the priority of the situation I was glad to hear someone would be out asap, but less glad to hear that it could be up to an hour.
We managed the few meters home and threw a very disgruntled cat out of the armchair so we could sit the old man down. Once sat with a cup of tea he seemed quite happy with both us and his surroundings, although still upset and concerned about the men in his house, and worried that he might get into trouble from the police. We reassured him frequently that no-one would be angry with him, and that the police would be only too glad to help him. Whilst we waited we asked the man about whether he had any children and if he knew their names hoping we could find a phone number for them. Although he could tell us his daughter's name and that she was married with children, he didn't know what her husband might be called so we could find out her married name, or where she lived. He was alternating between thinking he was still in Ireland and worried about getting back home to Hollywood.
He told us of how he met his wife during his national service and how they'd married just afterwards, her 19, he 20, frequently telling us that she had died just a few weeks or few days ago. It was obvious someone would be missing him and that as we'd given the police a name and description just kept reassuring him that someone would be here for him soon and not to worry about anyone being cross, they would just be glad to see him.
After 20 minutes or so the police phoned back, confirming the man's name and explaining he answered to Chuck. They'd found where he lived. As we thought from the man's description of undoing 4 locks and 'escaping', he was missing from a local nursing home. The person calling from the police explained that they had not been able to find a spare officer anywhere to attend the call, but they had spoken to the nursing home and someone would be round soon to collect him.
Shortly afterwards a van pulled up and a very anxious man knocked at the door explaining that his wife ran the nursing home and that they currently had builders in. This had obviously upset Chuck who thought they had taken over his home and his wife, and whilst tea was being prepared he had managed to slip out unnoticed. Chuck seemed perfectly happy to go with the man, albeit a bit confused by the white van he was to get in. Whilst Chuck was being helped into the van a car pulled up and a frantic looking woman arrived to explain she was the person in charge and what had happened.
Chuck lost his wife six months ago and had to move from his home to this area to be close to his daughter. Usually she visited him every day, but was on holiday at the moment and so Chuck was more confused than normal. She thanked us for taking care of him and we made sure to find out the name of the nursing home in case we found him again.
It was all just so sad.