I am always losing things, keys, party invites, deadlines, you name it and I have probably lost it. However, one thing I have never lost is an actual person. Okay, technically that might not be true. There was that one awful time when I thought I had lost Youngest in a shop. She was 2 years-old and we were in the supermarket. I was trying to help Oldest choose the decorations for the top of her birthday cake and Youngest was nagging me to buy her some chocolate. I firmly told her no and turned back to help Oldest. In that split second everything changed. My back was literally turned for 1 second but by the time I had turned back she had gone. Seemingly vanished into thin air. I had quelled the sense of rising panic and ran around the high shelves to see if she was on the next aisle but still nothing. The hysteria was now rising and I had forgotten about being calm and instead was now screaming her name like a banshee. I had run around wildly as my heart thumped, my knees shook and my stomach flipped.
She was only missing for a couple of minutes top, but those minutes were the longest minutes of my life. They stretched ahead of me and it felt like hours, as if everyone and everything were moving in slow motion as I ran around screeching. Then I saw her, clutching the hand of the store manager and I have never felt such relief. I was beside myself even more when I was told that she had made it out onto the street outside. This shop was like a maze, I don’t know how she managed it but as she looked up at me, a defiant look on her face, I realised that she wasn’t scared, she was teaching me a lesson – give me my own way or I will torment you like this again. In some ways she is very similar to my dad, my mum is always losing my dad and it could be said that he likes to torment her at times.
My dad regularly vanishes. One minute he will be in front of you, the next minute he has vanished in a puff of smoke. He has always been like this. Memories of my childhood are littered with snatches of conversation from my mum muttering “Where has your bloody father vanished to now?!” He was normally found, returning with a bag of purchases. Remember he is the Imelda Marcos of the trouser world. He breaks free from the family so he can indulge his shopping habit. This is something he hasn’t grown out of. Oldest growing up thought that my dad’s cap was actually a shrinking cap and that he liked to put that cap on when he fancied an adventure. The only adventure my dad was having was in the menswear department of Debenhams. However, we let her believe that, it seemed better than the rather boring reality.
Even when we go on holiday he vanishes. We have managed to lose him on cruise ships, in a tiny Norwegian village; mum lost him in Estonia and for a while was convinced that he had been kidnapped by the local mafia. No, he had just become distracted by a clothes shop. Now my dad has finally embraced local technology you would think that it would be far harder to lose him, it appears not. Let me set the scene…..
“I’ve Lost Him”
I am frantically packing boxes when my mobile phone starts ringing, it’s my mum
Mum: Erm, I don’t how to say this but I think I need your help.
Me: Oh no, I’ve been dreading this call. Let me sit down. What do you need? A kidney, blood, money? How many years do you have left? (I start to get hysterical) It’s not fair, why you?!
Mum: What are you going on about? No, I need your help because I’ve lost your bloody father…again.
Me: Oh. Where are you?
Me: Oh good god. I hope you are in a safe place and not waving your phone around. We don’t want you getting mugged.
Mum: Emma, don’t believe everything you read in the press, Colchester hasn’t gone that far down the pan, yet….I was supposed to meet your father after the hairdressers outside the Bank but he is not here.
Me: Perhaps he is running a bit late?
Mum: Emma I have been waiting for an hour. A whole hour and now we are running late for taking your Nan out for lunch and she will be worried.
Me: Oh gawd, what if he has been in an accident. What if he has been run over?
Mum: I should be so lucky…
Mum: I’m joking. I don’t know where he could be though. Even by his standards this is late. I clearly told him as I got out of the car to meet me at 11.30 outside the Bank. The trouble is his hearing is rubbish but he won’t admit it.
Me: Have you tried ringing him?
Mum: Of course I have but the main purpose of a mobile phone seems to have escaped your father and he never actually carries a mobile phone around with him. I have rung him six times and left three messages.
Me: Okay, have you checked twitter for traffic accidents and delays.
Mum: I can’t because I am low on battery.
Me: Okay, I will check and ring you back.
On checking Twitter I discover there are major delays and 1 big traffic accident. I ring mum back.
Me: (Panic stricken) there has been a major accident and there is traffic congestion. What if dad has been involved in a –
My mum interrupts me
Mum: Oh what! My phone battery is going to die soon and I will never find him.
Me: Dad could be in that accident?
Mum: He won’t be. Although, he had better have a bloody good excuse for being over an hour late and not answering his phone. I’ve rung so many times.
Me: Mum where are you waiting for him?
Mum: I am still outside the Bank – I daren’t move unless he turns up. I have checked both the front and back door of the Bank just in case.
Me: I will ring him.
Mum: Well as if you are going to get hold of him after ringing once…
I hang up and ring dad.
Dad: (sounding surprised) Emma? Hello!
Me: Dad!!! Where have you been? Mum has been ringing you!
Dad: No she hasn’t. Do you know that she has stood me up? I’ve been loitering outside the hairdressers for over an hour. I think they think I am some kind of hair pervert. Getting my kicks out of freshly cut hair.
Me: (sighs) Dad you should be at the Bank. Go now. Mum is waiting for you.
Dad: No, I can’t. I had to come back to the car in Lexden as the parking restrictions are about to kick in. I can’t leave the car. She will know where I am parked.
I ring Mum and inform her where Dad is located, much to her surprise – “Well how did you manage that?”
I sigh and ring off with my mum muttering in my ear “I don’t bloody believe it”.
So even with technology it is possible for my Dad to get lost. Let’s not even talk about the family WhatsApp group that my mum has set up. With my mum and dad in the group it becomes surreal, veering from cheese scones to funerals in the same conversation, leaving me at a loss to understand what is going on. It seems it’s not just my dad who gets lost after all.