Me: “Hey, Dad. Whatcha thinkin’?”
Dad: “I’m a whisper in your ear.”
Photo by Theo Hughes

My passion is to write stories about everyday people doing extraordinary things. It’s no wonder that my heart lies deep within the following story. If you’ve heard it before, rejoice with me once again as I tell a story of heartache, love and joy, and how the past can influence the future…

He was driving home, exhausted from working all day and having to fight the rush hour traffic. All he wanted to do was get home and relax. When he took his exit off the busy freeway, however, he noticed a six-year-old boy carrying his school books and lunch box and walking down the exit ramp towards the highway.

The man thought that that was strange for a little boy to be walking around with his school supplies and heading straight for a busy highway. The nearest school was about a mile away, and school had let out nearly two hours ago. Something just didn’t seem right.

Most of the drivers probably didn’t give the boy a second glance. Joe Martin of Mesquite, however, had his reason for concern. Joe’s eyes filled with tears as his thoughts drifted back to the past…

My father has Alzheimer’s. This is the last time he remembered me.
Photo by Theo Hughes

Nearly 30 years ago, he received a call that his first-grade daughter was missing. She was supposed to meet her mother at the front door of her new school after classes. Instead, the girl went to the side door.

She couldn’t understand why her mother was not there, so she decided to walk home by herself. After all, she was a big girl, and she knew the way home, or so she thought.

By the time the little girl had walked about six blocks, she was getting scared by the barking dogs and the unfamiliar neighborhood. She finally realized that this was not the right way home.

By then, the police were out searching for the little lost girl. Her mother and father waited anxiously for news of their daughter’s safety. The girl was only six, but somehow, she had the instinct to retrace her steps back to the school.

So running with all the speed a six-year-old girl has, she soon found herself back in the school’s office. Several policemen were there, and they returned the little girl back to a joyful and tearful reunion with her parents…

Joe wiped the tears from his eyes as he thought about that day so long ago. He immediately knew that he had to do something about the little boy heading toward the freeway. He hated to think of any parent in the same situation that he was in 30 years ago.

Joe pulled over to the closest pay phone and called the police and told them about the small boy walking towards the highway. Sure enough, the boy had been missing since school let out two hours earlier. He was new to the school, and since his day care ride didn’t pick him up, he decided to walk home. Only, he didn’t know where home was.

By the time Joe spotted the boy again, he was walking down the grassy embankment of the highway. Joe pulled up beside the little boy, got out of his car, and sat with the boy on the hillside until the police arrived.

That night, Joe received an emotional call from the boy’s parents, thanking him for finding their son. Joe never heard from the family again, but that day found a special place in his heart — right beside the place where his little girl was lost but found.

In my eyes, my father is a hero. He took a memory from the past and helped shape the future for another family. He took the time to care.

Joe and his wife, Rose, still cry when they think of that day in the past and what might have been. They think of a little girl, frightened and alone, and they remember the tears of a happy reunion.

Even though one may always remember that terrible feeling of being lost, there’s always that joyful feeling of being found. Believe me, I know.

To my father: I didn’t know what to get you for Fathers’ Day, so I wrote you a memory. Happy Father’s Day from your little lost girl. We hope to see you soon. Love from your Pumkin.