Getting lost at the fast food restaurant

I was thinking about my dad’s wandering escapades recently, and remembering the one that took place at McDonald’s. Poor Mom couldn’t even go to the restroom in peace without Dad taking off. The worst thing about that incident was that Mom went looking for him inside and outside the restaurant, and couldn’t find him. So she called the police, which she hated to do but was the right thing in that situation. The police responded and found Dad. He was standing by the drive-thru.

This made me think about an incident that took place when I was a kid, probably when I was in junior high. It was our traditional weekend trek to a fast food restaurant. This time it was Arby’s. I loved the curly fries and the Jamocha shake, but could take or leave the sandwich. Well, I liked the Horsey sauce, or maybe it was the name that I liked saying more than anything. Anyways, we were done with our meal and Mom and I headed to the restroom while Dad headed out to smoke. We had done this same scenario a hundred times before.

The scene of Dad's "lost and found" experience when he had dementia.

By the time Mom and I would be finished, Dad would be done with his smoke and in the car waiting for us. But not this time.

Dad was definitely not in the car and it was still locked. I walked around the building and looked for him, but no signs of Dad. Maybe the bathroom? Dad was known for his stomach troubles, which could come on suddenly, so we decided to give him a bit of time. The minutes ticked by slowly as we waited by the car. (Long before the days of smartphones, where you could kill time by playing a round or two of Angry Birds!) At least 10-15 minutes passed, and no sign of Dad. Mom started to get worried so we went back inside the restaurant and asked a male employee if they could check the men’s bathroom for us. They did, but no sign of Dad.

Dad wasn’t a likely kidnapping target, but we were starting to run out of ideas. Finally, as if by magic, Dad appeared, walking over from the tire store next door. Why in the world he had a sudden, urgent desire to look at tires I’ll never know. Mom scolded him for making us worry but he just shrugged it off.

I don’t remember this happening again until Dad started showing signs of dementia. It was just a strange, momentary glimpse of what was to come.

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2 Comments

Filed under Memories

2 responses to “Getting lost at the fast food restaurant

  1. linguisticpozole

    Thanks for your writings. I have a stepfather who got early-onset at 52, and is now in a nursing home, so I can relate to your stories.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your stepfather. Early-onset Alzheimer’s seems particularly cruel.

    Thanks for reading.

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