About 28 years ago we went through a family experience that everyone dreads. Our youngest son (aged 2) was missing, on a dark, cold winter’s night.
It was two weeks before we were due to fly home on UK leave and Gail and I were attending a rare hospital meal at the restaurant. We had just ordered when I was called to a phone, someone was asking for me. It was about 7:30 pm.
The phone call was from our babysitter. She nervously explained that Gethin was ‘missing’. She had heard the back door and found it was open. She searched the house. She searched outside and called his name but couldn’t see or hear him. This was when she decided to call and tell me what had happened
My first response was to disbelieve her although I soon realised that she was extremely concerned, not to mention embarrassed. I told her that I would come home straight away.
I went back to the table and told Gail that I was going home for a bit and that I would be back soon.
When I arrived home I searched the house. I also went outside and called Gethin’s name. At this point Ceryn, aged 8 came home from Cubs and became very upset when she realized what was happening. She started calling his name as well. I wondered if he might have followed us down the hill to the harbour although of course he would never have caught up with us. He didn’t like letting Gail out of his sight. My fear, however, was that he had headed in the opposite direction where there was rough ground and ice covered ponds.
I knocked on our neighbour’s door and asked if they had seen him. She said she hadn’t but lent me a torch. I carried on looking and she, unknown to me, called her husband who was training with the FIDF (Falkland Islands Defence Force). She also informed the Police. Still not finding him I decided that I had better go and tell Gail.
So, now both of us were leaving the party to quizzical looks from our hospital friends who didn’t have a clue what was going on. Later we found out that the mystery deepened for them when the Chief of Police, who was also there for a meal, got bleeped and rushed out and they saw vehicles, with blue lights flashing, racing by on the harbour road. Why hadn’t they been called as well they wondered.
Gail was obviously very upset when she understood the situation. As we got to the top of the hill we saw dozens of people around the house, some in uniform. The Police and the FIDF had turned up along with many locals as it had been announced on the local news service that a little boy was missing.
I spoke to the Detective in charge, who of course we knew, and he confirmed that he had searched the house so now they were looking in neighbours’ gardens their out-buildings and underneath those newer houses which were built on stilts. Time was going on and still no sign of him.
Some of our close friends, including the vicar and his wife, had turned up in support and we were in our kitchen just waiting for news. I was very worried and Gail was frantic. I hardly believed that he would have survived after being outside for a couple of hours. I decided to pray, out loud, that God would keep him close to himself, wherever he was. It was a prayer of faith in God’s abiding love more than a prayer for his safe return …
Gail had been out shouting his name too but returned too upset to speak and left the kitchen to go into his bedroom. She lay down on his bed and reached for one of his cuddly toys. I had walked with her to the bedroom but thought it better to leave her alone for that moment so I walked back to the kitchen. I’d only taken a few steps when I heard her scream and thought she’d finally broken down. But she was shouting, “He’s here! He’s here!”
She came out with tears streaming down her face to tell us all that she had touched his head and found that he was down between the side of the bed and the wall! What a relief!
How do you define a miracle?
This was a happy ending but it had been a really traumatic couple of hours.
It was gone 9pm and I had to go and tell the Detective that we had found him. He asked me where and how. I told him. He too found it hard to believe … then he shouted to everyone to stand down because the boy had been found. He didn’t say where …
Only after the event did we realize what a tremendous effort had been made by everyone in this small community to reach out and help. We also learned that the military were on the verge of scrambling a helicopter.
The next day I rang the FIDF and Police to thank them for what they had done only to be thanked by them for the best exercise they had had for a long time! They said they had learned so much about searching for missing people.
I think I learned a lot from that episode too but that’s another story …
I also contacted the local Broadcasting Station to say thank you to the community for their help and support. This was the song I dedicated to them. And I thought that, on this Father’s Day, I’d share it with you:
This version is sung by Father and Daughter duo Mat and Savannah Shaw (who have only been singing on Youtube since the start of the Pandemic) and is a beautiful example of a father sharing a moment with one of his children … so, in memory of one of our moments here’s “Somewhere, out there …”