Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When News has a Happy Ending

I have worked in news for many years. I don't want to age myself too much but let's just say that it is more than 10 years. There are some stories that just stay with you forever, stories like 9-11 and the day the war in Afghanistan started, and then there are those powerful local stories that just tug at your heart strings. Recently I had the pleasure of playing a part in one of those tug-at-your-heart stories.

Back at the end of September on a Thursday night I got a call from a man saying that his 87 year old father was missing. He had been missing since the day before when he never returned from a visit to his doctor's office. The man told me about how his father had called to say that he got lost but that he got directions and would be home soon and then they didn't hear from him again. This man told me how his father always listened to our radio station and that they hoped if we did a story he might hear it and call home or one of our dedicated listeners would hear the story and call police when they spotted the man and his car. After a short bit of investigation I discovered a police release had been issued and so we called back to do an interview with the missing man's son. We quickly got a story together and on the air in the hopes that this great human interest story would come to a happy ending. Hours went by and we didn't hear anything. And so my night came to a close and I went home.

The next day I came into work not knowing how the story had ended. After a brief search in our system I discovered the missing 87 year old man had been found and he was now safe. He apparently become disoriented and confused, ending up several kilometers away from his home. His car was out of gas and he was about to spend a second night in his car. It was one of our listeners that reportedly heard the story and spotted the car and license plate and then called police.

I was able to call the man's son back and express my happiness that things had ended well and that the family was back together. It was an emotional phone call. He was emotional and it brought me to tears. He told me that he believed that I saved his fathers life by taking his call, not blowing him off and actually taking action. I have since received an email with an update and several lovely pictures of his dad and mom together. And then tonight I got this....

It was a basket full of all sorts of goodies from the family. It makes my heart feel good to know something that I did  helped someone, that somehow what I do every day actually impacts someone. These kinds of experiences are invaluable. I have learned so much about myself through helping this family. I have learned how important individual stories are to the fabric of a city, about how important good news stories are to me as a journalist and as a person and a mother....and so much more. It also reminded me of all the things I  have to be thankful for....especially family.