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A family member missing at the beach


Guest Columnist

I was meeting a friend for lunch, and while I was waiting for her to arrive, Tracy Hawkins, an employee, and I began talking. I asked her if there was a moment in her life she would never forget, and she gave me the following information.

Tracy told me her husband had never been to the beach and when he was 31 years old he made his first trip to Myrtle Beach with her and her dad. After that, it became a yearly trip for them.

“My father always went with us to the beach,” Hawkins said. “When he was 62, he was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease. A few months after he had been diagnosed, we went on our annual beach trip in the off-season. In past trips, when we arrived, he had taken off his shoes and gone for a walk on the beach. When he did that on this particular trip we didn’t think anything was unusual about it.”

Tracy told me that when he had not returned after a couple of hours they became worried. For two hours they searched for him, but couldn’t find him. The Police Department was called and they helped with the search.

“We were staying in a motel, and when he was found he was about three miles away,” Hawkins said. “Even the owner of the hotel was out looking for him. He spotted my dad, and saw him get in a car with someone.”

The hotel owner followed them in traffic, and as the car approached the motel he realized it was my sister bringing him back to the hotel.

“In the past, Dad would go for his walk to the pier and back, but we assumed this time he walked from one pier to another and then crossed the road and got back on the main drag,” she said.

I asked if her father was aware of his disease and the memory loss that goes along with it.

“My father did realize something was wrong, but sometimes he would forget and not realize that what he was doing was unusual for him,” she said.

Paulette Ballard collects interesting, funny and unusual stories from people in and around Lincolnton. If you have a story you would like to submit for her column, e-mail it to pballardnc1029@yahoo.com. In the subject line type “For your column.” Include your name and phone number for her to contact you.



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