Towards the end of Grandma Brooks' (Glenna Brooks, Mom's mom) life, she resided in a nursing home in Roanoke, VA. Mom would occasionally get a phone call from family down there to inform her of Grandma Brooks' escape from the locked-down/ heavily-alarmed nursing facility. No one on staff could explain it, but Grandma Brooks could occasionally be found walking down the road from the nursing home, suitcase in hand. When asked where she thought she was going, the slightly dementia-stricken woman would calmly reply, "the train station". You see, Grandpa Brooks (John Robert Brooks I, Mom's dad), was a railroad engineer and Mom's family would often travel by train for free. I'm not sure to where Grandma Brooks thought she may travel, but time and time again Mom would get the phone call reporting of her breakout.
The breakouts still continue in this line of Brooks women...this time it was this one:
Don't be taken by the sweet smile, the innocent turn of the head...this is a sly one. Let me explain.
Mom and I were recently in WalMart to pick up a few things. Our last stop was the fabric section. We made our selection and I waited for someone to cut our fabric. I have a little conversation with the endearing employee, turn around, and MOM IS GONE.
I am immediately panicked, I get that yucky, itchy feeling inside like something out of my control has happened and it's big-time not good and it has happened on my watch.
I turn to the lady, lean across the little island counter and whisper "I just lost my mom".
"Oh Honey, she's around somewhere," is her sweet reply.
I lean closer, "No, you don't understand. My mom is in a wheelchair, she is a stroke patient, she doesn't speak!"
I grab the fabric off the counter and race down the main isle, looking from side to side to see if she has gone into, I don't know, kid's shoes, magazines, baby stuff, bras, night clothes, cleaning supplies.
In my panic I'm trying to think like Mom..."I'll just wheel down here cause I know we need more instant coffee", "I'll wheel to the front check out and meet Peggy Anne there", "I'll just wander around with my own agenda cause I CAN". I'm fighting off a panic attack in the front of the store, wondering if Mom would respond to an all call over the loud speaker..."Peggy Loyd to the front of the store...Crazy Lady (as I used to call her when we would grocery shop together back in the day, she would never respond to "MOOOOM" but a good "Hey CRAZY LADY" would get her talking) to the front of the store". I am looking for someone who is actually looking up, possibly paying attention to the world around them so I can ask "Have you seen a lady in a wheelchair?" Everyone seems to be looking down, in their own worlds...I am panicking.
Just then. I see Jack. Jack owns the delicious Giacomo's, a small Italian restaurant around the corner from Mom and Dad's. I had just re-met him the previous evening at dinner.
"Jack!" I try not to scream. He greets me all cool and easy and I interrupt him.
"I lost my mom. I lost my mom."
He grabs my arm as he looks at the time, "I have time, heck, I am the boss, right? I will help you."
As we weave and bob through to the back of the store, he asks where I last saw her..."In fabric". "Let's go there," he replies, as if he is a private investigator that moonlights as an incredible chef of Italian food.
As we approach the fabric department everything happens at once. I hear the fabric lady saying "She was just here" as Jack stops in his tracks, pointing down the isle saying "There she is! Peggy STOP!".
My first glimpse of Mom is from the back: her short brown, silky hair; the shoulders of her bright pink shirt; her wheels turning slowly forward. Relief rushes through my body.
Mom is turning around to see why Jack of Giacomo's is telling her to stop. She catches my eye, must see the
Well, all is well. I got Mom safely home and was able to make Dad laugh by
As I retold the story to Paul, he said it reminded him of back in the day when Mom would report to us of Grandma Brooks' escapes. Paul would always say "Grandma's going over the wall again".
This was a good attempt from Mom for going over the wall. She must be watched closely. This line of Brooks women, they are strong and very brave ya know.