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  • Jocelyn Reekie

THE UNPUBLISHED MEMOIR, I Hope You Know You're Fodder For A Book Someday

Updated: Nov 16, 2021



“No,” I answer the question I was asked. “He’s only wearing his bathing suit. It’s black. No shirt, no shoes, no hat. He’s barefoot. He’s carrying my wallet. There’s fifty American dollars in it. No, no I.D., and he won’t remember the name of our hotel, or even what street it’s on.”

The officer’s lips purse. “Does he have a room key?”

“No. I have it.”

“So nothing to help someone who finds him,” the policeman says.

My stomach churns with guilt and I feel my lower lip quiver as I struggle to find my voice. “Our cell phone’s in my wallet, but it’s not turned on and he doesn’t know how to use it anyway.”

I look out toward the turquoise water and the white waves that curl over on themselves, spill up on the beach and pull back. Their soft teeth comb the sand. There’s a breeze coming off the ocean. Warm. It’s friendly here, away from the swarms of people and the spider-web of paths that wind around the hotels that front the beach at Waikiki. The unfriendly maze that has swallowed my husband.

The officer says, “How long has it been since you saw him?”

I look at my watch. “About two hours.”

“How long after you last saw him did you get worried?”

I realize I’ve no idea how long it was before I started to really worry. I’ve no clear idea what time we arrived at this beach or how long it has taken everything to unfold. We’re on vacation and time has meant little, until now.

We’d picked a spot where there weren’t many people, sat with our backs against the wall that separated the beach from the commercial kiosks. We’d swum. Then settled down with books. Sometime later, Bill had said, “How about some ice cream?”

“I don’t see any place to get it.”

He pointed to stairs that climbed the hill behind the wall. “I saw people come down with ice cream.”

I saw a bit of curved roof, and dug my wallet out of the beach bag. “You’ll just go up there, and come right back?”


I’d watched him start up, then resumed reading. At some point, I’d looked around. I did that twice before I actually got up, climbed the stairs myself, and saw the maze.

The roof covered an open-air bar. No ice cream there. A massive patio held hundreds of chaise lounges and umbrellas, set in rows. At the back of the patio was a huge hotel with dozens of storefronts. No ice cream stall. No sign of Bill.

I walked between the rows of lounges and sunbathers, past a pool filled with noisy kids and adults, followed another path around to the hotel front. Nothing there but lawn. Back toward the patio, under an archway that led to more stores in a warren of stores. People everywhere. Suddenly gripped by fear I might not find my own way back, I’d turned around.

I’d dug my watch out of my bag. 2:30. I thought Bill had been gone at least an hour by then. I stuffed our things into my beach bag and ran to the street our hotel was on. We’d travelled up and down it many times.

Both sides of the street were lined with stores, restaurants and hotels. Crowds of people milled along the pastel-colored sidewalks. The sun beat down on the paving stones. We’d both slathered ourselves with sunscreen. But I thought of Bill’s bare feet. They, and his body, would be fried. Then, it hit me. If he had somehow found his way back to where we’d been, there was nothing to tell him he was at the right place. I hot-footed it back. He wasn’t there. I had no money to make a call, and no cell phone.

I approached one of the kiosks. The female attendant looked at me. I couldn’t talk. She asked me what was wrong. When I could open my throat enough to make my voice work, I told her my husband was missing and had Alzheimer’s, gave her my keycard to our room and asked her to call our hotel.

The desk clerk said no one had asked for a key.

I said, “If he does come in and ask for a key, could you tell him to stay in our room?”

He said he would.

I stood there for several minutes, trying to think. The girl in the kiosk asked if I wanted her to call Security. “Yes, please,” I said.

The security guy, whose name is Bryson, listened to my halting story. “Do you want me to call the police?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, and he led me to this patio, where he, Officer Ildefonso and I are the only occupants. I’m grateful for that.

Now, I just tell the policeman where I’d looked before I’d asked for help.

Bryson says, “There is a Baskin Robbins, but we…,” He stops.

Before I can respond to that, the policeman asks, “What color is his hair?”

“Brown. It’s short. Like his.” I point to Bryson’s hair.

“Would you say it’s light brown or…,”

“Dark brown. Very little gray.”

The questions and answers go on. “No. No tattoos, no scars, no beard, mustache or stubble. No, he isn’t what I’d call hairy. He’s five foot ten, two hundred pounds. Fair skin, he has a tan. Blue eyes.”

The officer puts Xs in boxes on a paper he laid on the table.

“He has glasses,” I add.

“What color are the frames?”

“Black,” I say. Later, I will wonder how I could have been wrong about something as basic as the color of his frames.

“No. No watch or jewellry. He’s just carrying my wallet. It’s gray. It’s a woman’s wallet so it’s…” With a finger I draw an oblong shape and say, “It’s bigger than a man’s.”

“Would he put it in a pocket, or…?”

“His bathing suit doesn’t have pockets.”

The officer tucks his chin toward his shoulder and speaks into the microphone attached to his shirt front. “Well, at least he’s got some cash for food if he gets hungry,” the officer says. “Would he go into a restaurant maybe and get something to eat?”

I picture Bill trying to figure things out. “I doubt it.”

“What’s your cell phone number?”

I never call my phone. I give a number and repeat, “But it won’t be turned on.”

He punches the number on his phone, listens, and hangs up. He tries again and hands me the phone. “Is this your number?”

A man’s voice on an answering machine gives a strange name. I shake my head and hand the phone back. I don’t understand it. I’m sure that’s my number. I scrub at my temple with one hand, then change one of the digits. “Maybe it’s that, I tell him.”

Ildefonso tries it and hands me the phone while it rings. A man answers. “Bill?” I say. Then, “Is this Bill?”

“Wrong number,” the man says.

I feel like an idiot. The officer lifts his chin and I’m not sure what I see in his chocolate eyes. Skepticism, or sympathy. “Is there anyone else who would know the number?” His tone is kind.

Our daughter has it, but I don’t want to call her and frighten her. So I say, “I have an address book in our hotel room. It’s in that.”

The officer stays silent. I give him our daughter’s name and number. He punches it in and hands his phone to me again. Stephanie’s answering machine kicks in.

“Steph,” I say, “I need our cell phone number. Dad’s missing.” I hear my voice break and stop. I need to calm down. “When you get home, please call the number the police officer will give you and give him my cell phone number.”

Officer Ildefonso says his name and a number and hangs up.

“It’s a land line?” he asks.

“Yes. She’ll be home from work soon.”

“Does she have a cell phone?”

“It won’t do any good. She doesn’t keep hers on either and she hasn’t activated her voice mail.”

“Anyone else who would know your number?” he presses.

“We only have the cell for emergencies,” I say, hearing my own voice reflect the irony of that. “No one ever calls us on that line.”

I can feel rather than hear the policeman sigh.

I turn my head. I feel like maybe I will suffocate.

“Is there any one place you’ve frequented?” the officer asks.

Eventually I say, “We’ve gone different places, but he might remember the military beach and museum we went to yesterday because he said repeatedly how wonderful the day was, and his parents were both World War Two vets.”

Ildefonso speaks into his mic again, then puts another piece of paper on the table and hands me the pen. “Okay, please write down what you’ve told me.” He recites and I write. When I finish, the officer reads it and says, “How is he in the water? Can he…,” he gestures with his hands.

“He’s an excellent swimmer.” No matter the truth of that, my stomach boils acid into my throat. I can picture Bill, turning around and around, trying to figure out where he is. Not being able to. “He might not even know how to ask for help.” I’m barely whispering when I add, “He’ll be so scared.”

“Would he go in the water, or…?” Ildefonso asks.

I raise my chin to look into his eyes. “He’s not suicidal,” I say, and am surprised to see him jerk backward, as if he hadn’t thought of that at all.

“Okay,” he says, “I’m going to call in a bolo.” Again he tucks his chin and speaks into his mic. Minutes pass, then an announcement comes through and he says, “There it is. Every police officer and beach security officer will be looking for your husband now.”

“Thank you. Thank you, too,” I say to Bryson.

“Okay, I’ll be in touch,” Ildefonso says and adds, “I can’t tell you not to go out looking, but...” He stops there and I don’t reply.

“I’ll take you out,” Bryson says.

I follow him. “I know you looked at the ice cream store, but can we look there again?”

He veers into the warren. At the far end of one hallway is a Baskin Robbins store. Bill’s not there. Bryson leads me back outside and points to a passageway. “The street is right through there.”

I thank him again, begin to walk through and somehow get turned around. My stomach tumbles. I feel dizzy. I fight not to panic. Silently I plead, Bill, where are you? Tell me where you are. Please! I make it out and stand on the hot, teeming street: turning, looking, hoping. Knowing I won’t find Bill there.

Cars, trucks, tour buses, motorbikes, all going the same direction, rumble down four lanes between the wide sidewalks. On the sidewalks, people go both ways. They walk five abreast, or six. Some purposefully. Some saunter, stop to chat or window shop. Signs read: Gucci, Armani, Dior, Ralph Lauren. The Hard Rock Café. And on every block, the ubiquitous ABC.

I make for our hotel, head swivelling as I walk, but I’m not seeing well. I need to get out of my bathing suit and flip flops, into proper clothes. I need to find my cell phone number then call Officer Ildefonso and give it to him. I need to call Stephanie and tell her not to worry. I need to put clothes for Bill into my bag and get back out on the street and look for him.


Bill hasn’t come back to the hotel. In our room, I drop the beach bag on the floor and burst into tears. I collapse onto the bed. I shake my head and tell myself out loud, “You don’t have time for this.” I grab a tissue for my nose and pick up the phone. As soon as our daughter answers, I choke up again.

Into my agony-filled silence she says, “I’m getting on a plane.”

I pull myself together. “No, don’t do that. The police here are all looking for him. So is beach security. And I’m going to keep looking. We’ll find him.”

“I don’t want you to be alone, Mom.”

“It’s way too soon for you to do anything like that. Please, just hang tough.” I take a deep breath and add, “I know Dad’s all right. I’m a bit bummed out right now.” As if she couldn’t tell. “It’s just that I know how scared he must be. Just hearing your voice helps. I’m okay. It will be all right.”

“I’ll see what I can do from here,” she says, “but if he’s not found by tomorrow morning I’m getting on a plane. Chris and Jaden stopped here on their way home. They’ll look after Lily.”

So now our son will be worried about his dad, too.

I can’t fathom what Stephanie can do from there, but don’t ask. I repeat, “Like I said, everyone here is looking for him. I’ve got to go back out now. As soon as we find him, I’ll call you. I love you. Tell Chris and Jaden I love them, too.”

I call the police and leave a message. It’s ten after six. I eat something and pack food and clothes into the beach bag. Six eighteen. I want to go. Six forty. Officer Ildefonso phones. I give him the number for my cell. “I called it, I say, “and left a voice message but…”

“Okay. I’ve talked to your daughter.”

“I know. I just talked to her. She wants to get on a plane. I told her not to do that.”

“She faxed us a picture of both you and your husband. We’ll find him. I’ll keep in touch.”

An hour and a half later, I’ve plodded through more than three kilometers of sand and gone back to every place we’ve been. On Saratoga Street, I stop to breathe. There are dozens of cars by the tennis courts. On Beach Drive and other streets, long lines of people are cueing up for the night life. The crowds haven’t thinned. So many streets. So many people. My knees begin to buckle. How could I have sent him for ice cream?

It’s dark and I need to check back in at the hotel.


From below the steps that lead up to the glass-door entrance, I can see Officer Ildefonso in the foyer. My heart speeds up. I look, but can’t see Bill.

Up the steps and in the door. Freeze. I still can’t see Bill. Officer Ildefonso turns and sees me. I cannot breathe.

“He’s here,” he says. “He’s all right. He’s upstairs.”

Tears pour out of my eyes. I close the space between us and wrap my arms around him. “Thank you. Thank you so much!”

I head directly to the elevator and push the ‘up’ button. One hand is over my mouth trying to stifle my sobs. Warm, salty water runs through my fingers and down my cheeks and chin and wrist. The policeman steps beside me.

“He’s not hurt,” he says. “He’s just tired and cold.”

We wait for the elevator to come down. I fight to control my tears.

The officer breaks the silence. “I knew we’d find him.”

I take my hand off my mouth and try to smile. “I knew you would, too.”

When we step inside the elevator, the policeman says, “By the way, he was worried about you, too.”

My nose is running. I don’t have a tissue. All I can manage is, “He would be.”

We exit the elevator. Our room is around the corner, and Officer Ildefonso stops to knock on the door. But before he can, I’ve inserted my keycard, pushed it open, and walked in.

Bill is sitting on one of the beds, fully dressed. It’s hot, but he has a sweatshirt on. His face looks so sad. I’m moving fast, and he’s on his feet coming toward me. We meet and wrap each other in a bear hug—long and hard.

Eventually, I unpeel myself from him, look up, run my hand down his cheek and chin. “So, you went on a walk-about.”

“Apparently,” he replies. A pause, and then, “Sorry I ate your ice cream.”

Laughter rolls out of me. “You actually managed to buy ice cream?”

“Yes, and it was melting so I ate it. Sorry.”

I’m breathing again.

“I’ll be out of here in a minute,” the policeman says. “I just need you to read and sign this.” He puts a piece of paper on the table and I oblige, and thank him again as he leaves.

“You hungry?” I ask Bill.


Later, Bill tells me how kind the policeman who found him was, but he can’t recall the policeman’s name or where he was found and I realize I hadn’t thought to ask Officer Ildefonso about either of those things. All I could think of when I saw Bill, was Bill.

I call the police to get the name of Bill’s officer and write cards to the two officers, their employers, and to the Sheraton Hotel, where Bryson works, to thank the men for their professionalism, quick action, and incredible kindness.


Next day, we have a trip booked to the Polynesian Village. When we get off the bus, I don’t let go of Bill’s hand. We enjoy a couple of performances before he says he has to go to the bathroom. They don’t have family bathrooms here. I have to wait outside. Somehow he manages to exit a different way than he went in and I spend twenty minutes looking for him. I find him near the entrance to the park. Then I absolutely do not let go of his hand. When he has to go again, I take him into the women’s.

It’s after midnight when we get back to our hotel. Bill talks about what a great day it’s been, and I agree. We’ve seen pretty much everything this island has to offer and I’m ready to go home, but we still have five days left and island hopping, for me, is now a non-starter.

We spend our remaining days beside the hotel pool, where I don’t have to hold onto Bill, but I always have eyes on him. We read, sunbathe and swim. We book massages in the spa. I enjoy those days. Not having to worry is a great relief. He enjoys it, too, and is already talking about returning to these islands. But I know this will be our last big trip.

We’re home with mostly good memories of the trip and for the moment Bill’s safe.


Missing Person Two

At 8:45 p.m., I get a phone call from Parkwood. “Your mother is missing,” the receptionist says. “The caregiver came and Mary wasn’t in her suite. It’s not the first time that’s happened. We can’t find her either.”

“You realize I’m in Campbell River,” I say. “Did you check with her table mates? Maybe she’s in someone else’s room.”

The receptionist says, “She doesn’t socialize with the other residents. We called her granddaughter and she went out looking but didn’t find her. You’re listed as a contact person.”

I think of my daughter driving around Victoria trying to find her Nana with her two-month-old baby girl in tow, and Stephanie still recovering from the C-section she had to have to give birth to Lily. I tell the receptionist, “Mary’s step-daughter, Carolyn, is there in Victoria, too, and she’s also listed as a contact person. Did you call her?”

“There’s no answer there.”

I’m thinking, for as long as I’ve known her, Bill’s mom has been afraid of going out by herself at night. I really doubt she’s suddenly lost that fear.

“Okay,” I say. “I’m coming. But it will take me three hours to get there.”

I call a neighbor Bill knows and likes, tell her what’s up, and ask her if she’ll check on Bill the next morning because I might not be back. She says she’d be happy to.

I tell Bill where I’m going and that I might not be back that night, but the neighbor will be over in the morning to have breakfast with him.

“I’ll be fine,” he says.

I know he’s perfectly capable of getting himself breakfast, and he can be by himself. Still, I’m relieved he’ll have company. Our neighbor is good with him. I leave my cell phone number by the phone, and turn my cell phone on.

Two and a half hours later, I buzz to be let into Parkwood. I ask the night receptionist if it’s okay if I do a thorough search of the building. She looks skeptical, but says, “Yes, except the suites. It’s too late to bother the other residents.”

I don’t say anything to that, but think that if it comes to it I might knock on people’s doors anyway.

I look in the common rooms in case she’s moved from room to room, then head down a hallway I haven’t been down before. Partway down there’s a room on my left. The door is open and I stick my head around the door jamb. And there, on a chair tucked into a dark corner of what turns out to be a storeroom, is Mary. She’s sitting a little hunched over, looking at the floor.

“Hi,” I say with a smile.

She looks up at me and says, “Oh, oh, busted!”

I burst out laughing, and so does she.

Relieved, I take her to her suite. A chat reveals the hired caregivers have been coming to help her get ready for bed at 6:30 p.m. Getting into her pyjamas means bedtime to her, “And no way am I going to bed at six-thirty at night,” she says. So she’d decided she just wouldn’t be home when they came. She tells me that that evening she spent a few hours in another resident’s suite watching TV, but then that person wanted to go to bed, so she found a spot she was sure no one would look.

Inwardly, I applaud her resourcefulness. Aloud I say, “If the helpers came later would that work for you?”

“Yes. But not until nine. I’m tired by nine.”

I help her get ready for bed, tuck her in with a kiss goodnight, and leave. When I’m in my car, I call my daughter.

“This isn’t the first time she’s disappeared on them,” Stephanie says.

“So I was told.”

I tell her what Nana said when I found her, and she laughs. “She’s tricky,” she says.

“Yup. But when I was helping her get ready for bed she said, ‘Don’t put me in Broadmead.’ What’s Broadmead?”

“It’s a care home for veterans.”

Bill’s mom served overseas as a nurse in WWII, and has often talked about it. And Veterans Affairs has been good to her. They paid the full cost of her hearing aids, and for rehab and physio after a broken wrist and some back surgery she had. I’d have thought that if she did go into a care home, a home for vets would suit her well.

“Oh,” I say to my daughter. “Well, I told her we aren’t going to PUT her anywhere. She might have dementia, but here she is still organizing her own life by making us run around to sort out problems she’s having. She seems to have it all figured out.”

“I know,” Stephanie says. “She isn’t easy, but I’m mad at We Care. Last time this happened they assured me they could have the caregivers there between 8:30 and 9:00.”

“That’s likely the most popular time,” I say. “What if they can’t do it?”

“I don’t know. There are other companies. Don’t worry, Mom, first thing in the morning I’ll sort it out. Are you coming here now?”

“No. I think I’ll just head for home. I don’t want to leave your dad alone all night.”

“But it’s so late.”

“That’s a good thing. There’s no traffic. I made really good time coming.”

“Okay then. Good night.”

“Yeah, good night. Thanks for looking after Nana.”

It’s a peaceful drive home but on the way I ponder a few things. This isn’t the first time Mary has used an ‘emergency’ route to deal with some problem she’s having. It took some planning for her to come up with tonight’s stunt, and a lot of patience for her to wait in that storeroom to be found, which, judging by her reaction to me, she fully expected to be. But this is the first time she’s mentioned anything to me about going to a care home. Something is making her worry more than I realized.

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