It it with much apprehension and increasing levels of angst that we continue the search for missing grandmother Hyacinth Gage. She was taken to the Mount St. John’s Medical Center by her daughter this past Tuesday for tests, and her whereabouts have been a mystery ever since. According to a post making the rounds on social media from one of her granddaughters, “My grandmother is missing. Please help me find her. Call the police or 774-5070, 723-5096 or 775-1495. She has dementia and diabetes. Last seen in the Mount St. John’s area.” Actually, there have been several reports of sightings since that report of her being last seen in the Mount St. John’s area. On Tuesday, she was reportedly seen near Townhouse Megastore, and on Thursday she was reportedly seen in Gunthorpes and Hawkins Drive. Clearly, time is of the essence if our dearly beloved Hyacinth Gage is to be found alive.
To that end, many search parties have joined the frenetic effort to locate her. Our very own Algernon ‘Serpent’ Watts has spent the last three days as part of a team chasing down leads, hunches, and the many reported sightings. They have covered a goodly portion of Antigua, with no success. But they are not giving up. In fact, earlier last evening, Serpent was preparing to resume the search effort. So too have the harried family members as well as a number of other concerned Antiguans and Barbudans. We will certainly keep them, as well as Hyacinth, in our most fervent thoughts and prayers. After all, “We will rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” We are our brother’s keeper.
Upon learning of what had befallen Hyacinth and her struggle with dementia, we googled it for a quick primer on this terrible condition, and the following is what we found: “Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning. Dementia is an umbrella term that Alzheimer’s disease can fall under. It can occur due to a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. People can have more than one type of dementia.” And, of course, the signs are impaired memory, difficulty communicating and speech impediment, losing focus and concentration, diminished reasoning and judgement, trouble detecting movement and differentiating colors, and hallucinations. It is not a pretty picture!
Not surprisingly, the unfortunate disappearance of Hyacinth Gage has reopened the conversation on why so many of our loved ones seem to be afflicted with dementia/Alzheimer’s. We believe that the time has come for some local research and a study into why this may or may not be so, and what can be done to mitigate the effects of these dreaded diseases of the mind. So many of us have a family member who is stricken. And yes, we are familiar with the early signs: difficulty completing mundane tasks, disorientation and confusion with time or place, difficulty planning or solving problems, loss of memory, disinterest in eating and other things that once provided joy; difficulty recognizing friends and family members. It is sad! Seems, ‘the Preacher’ of Ecclesiastes is on to something when he declares, “. . . the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”
Consider the following excerpt from Lawrence K. Altman, who wrote way back in 1993, REAGAN’S TWILIGHT: A PRESIDENT FADES INTO A WORLD APART: “In February of last year, George P. Shultz went to visit his old boss, Ronald Reagan, at the former President’s home in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. He drank tea with Mr. Reagan and his wife, Nancy, and talked a little politics. In all, he stayed perhaps an hour. That night, Mr. Shultz, the former Secretary of State (and one of Reagan’s closest lifelong friends), received a call from Mrs. Reagan, who told him that ‘’something poignant happened today that you would like to know about.’’ [Apparently] At one point in the visit, Mr. Reagan had left the room briefly with a nurse. When they came back, Mrs. Reagan went on, ‘’he said to the nurse: ‘Who is that man sitting with Nancy on the couch? I know him. He is a very famous man.’ ‘’ It has been almost three years since Mr. Reagan disclosed that he had the memory-destroying neurological illness known as Alzheimer’s disease. And if, at the age of 86, the old movie actor still looks the image of vigorous good health, the truth is that the man behind the firm handshake and barely gray hair is steadily, surely ebbing away.” That account of how former First Lady Nancy Reagan watched her husband become a ghost of his former self is quite sobering, and one with which we are all so familiar. It really ought to give us pause!
Having said that, we here at NEWSCO have taken up the timely suggestions of many of our concerned listeners and readers who have called for the expanded use of helicopters and drones in searches such as these. To the credit of the authorities, drones have been used in this search for Hyacinth Gage. The K9 unit has also been employed, and we suggest that that unit’s use be expanded. Others have called for the authorities to peruse the footage from various cameras at private locations and on the public areas and intersections in Antigua. Even the footage from the entrance and exit at Mount St. John should provide, at the very least, a definitive time as to if and when Gage left the hospital compound. It would certainly be a shame if those cameras were not working. Meanwhile, others have suggested that we begin using GPS bracelets to keep tabs on the whereabouts of our dementia/Alzheimer’s-stricken loved ones. These are all worthy ideas and suggestions.
As Mother’s Day approaches, our hearts go out to Gage and her family. She is a mother and a grandmother, not only to her children, but to the many children in the village of Potters whence she hails. In fact, with barely concealed emotion, Serpent (he is a fiercely proud “Potter man”) spoke of how Hyacinth Gage was a mother to him – he spoke of her soft, sweet, maternal disposition. He also spoke, with much pain, of how his biological mother is also suffering from this awful disease. With a crack in his voice, he whispered that this disappearance hits close to home. He is clearly committed to this desperate fight to find Mama Hyacinth Gage. He is also committed to the fight to do something about the many who have fallen victim to dementia/ Alzheimer’s. And so are we! We are feeling the pain! The bewilderment! The helplessness! The sense of loss!
We are asking the Almighty to be merciful and help us find Mama Gage alive and well. It would be a tremendous Mothers’ Day gift to all of Antigua and Barbuda!