Sunday, February 15, 2015

I Only Lost Him Once!

Traveling with someone who has Alzheimer's can be a challenge; but, at least at this stage, it can still be done. Each time we go somewhere, though, I'm reminded that it definitely isn't getting easier!

For instance, a cruise ship stop in Victoria, British Columbia, was only going to be for half a day. The morning half. I awoke bright and early (for being on vacation). The ship had already docked, and I wanted to make sure we would have plenty of time to go exploring on foot. We like to do that when we don't have an excursion planned. You see so much more of a place when walking, noticing little details and getting a feel for its pace and energy and people. But all of that is what I usually go into in Adventures in Paradise, so on with my story.

Photo by Chris.
See the nice breakfast I prepared?
My husband was still sleeping soundly. Rather than waking him and making him nervous by encouraging him (cough, cough) to get ready in a hurry, I left little post-it notes on every mirror, telling him I was going up to the buffet (Deck 14) and would be back with his breakfast. I even took the elevator instead of the stairs, thinking it would be quicker. But it took the same amount of time.

At the buffet, I realized it would be impossible for me to carry two full trays down to Deck 10, so I grabbed a couple of things for myself, sat with some of our evening tablemates while I wolfed down my food, and then prepared a nice breakfast tray for him.

Photo by Chris.
Panic-inducing empty bed.
Having successfully navigated the trip to our room without spilling anything, I opened the door cheerfully and said, "Good morning!" But there was nobody there. No sign of him. No note from him, either. Minor panic mode!

I dashed to the elevator banks, but so many people were going up and down by this time that it was just faster to take the stairs back up to Deck 14. I thought perhaps he would be at the buffet, looking for me. No hubster there. Not by the pool. Not by the hot tubs. Not on the other side of the buffet.

I flew back down the stairs to our room, thinking he might have come back. Nope. What to do? What to do? The gangway was open, and I could see that people were leaving the ship.

I raced down the stairs to Deck 5 -- again, the elevators were too slow with everyone coming down at once to get off the ship -- and panted over to the young man who was assigned to the exit.

"You can't leave the ship without a passport, right, since this is Canada?" I asked hopefully.

"Who told you that? Of course not! You just need your cruise card, ma'am," he responded helpfully. I envisioned my husband on the dock, looking for me. And then I envisioned him walking away, looking for me. And then I envisioned what would happen if I couldn't find him. I started to hyperventilate.

"Perhaps you can check with the front desk? They will be able to verify that he hasn't left the ship. As far as I know, he is still on board," the young man said, doing his best to be reassuring. But my head was spinning and my heart was pounding, so he might have said, "Geez, lady, why are you reacting like that to the good news that you can leave the ship without your passport?!"

For the first time in the entire cruise, there was a long line at the help desk. Not now! I stood impatiently at the end of the queue, shifting from one foot to the other as those in front of me took forever to transact their business. Why were they taking so long? I'd been looking for him for an hour at this point. Finally, it was my turn.

I almost made it all the way to the counter before exclaiming, "I can't find my husband!"

"Don't worry, ma'am. He'll turn up soon," was the calm reply, "This sort of thing happens all the time."

"You don't understand..."

As I explained the situation, the crew went into overdrive. There was confirmation that my husband hadn't left the ship.

"He should be easy to find," they reassured me, "He'll be looking lost."

"No, he won't. He'll be looking like he's looking for someone."

Moments later, a photo of my husband had been distributed to various staff members with instructions to "find this man." I was asked to return to the room to wait. Again, the elevators were too slow, so I went up the stairs. I was getting a pretty good workout, at least. And, about a half hour later, there he was, coming down the hallway with a ship's officer.

"Oh, look! This is your room, isn't it, sir?"

"Yes, I think so. Oh, there's my wife! Where have you been? I've been going up and down all the hallways, looking for you!"

I was so relieved, all I could do was wrap my arms around him and weep.

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