Melvin Armine of Little Rock, Arkansas, is 83 years old and in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. There are many important details of his life that have melted from his memory now. But there are some things that even the terrible disease have not taken away from him.
On May 10, the day before Mother’s Day, one of those important memories came back to him.
“It’s special, because even though the mind doesn’t remember everything, the heart remembers,” his wife of 60 years, 86-year-old Doris Armine said.
But for Doris, the whole episode began as a nightmare.
Most days Melvin, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago and has been fading since then, sits in his garage and just takes everything in as best he can. But when Doris checked on him shortly before her friends would arrive for a ladies’ prayer meeting, Melvin wasn’t there.
Doris’s heart dropped to her feet.
“I took the car and went out looking for him. I looked for him at the EZ-Mart down here, the post office, all around the neighborhood here,” she said. “But I couldn’t find him.”
She phoned her oldest daughter who immediately called the Little Rock police. They immediately put out a bulletin and began combing the area, looking for Melvin.
“By that time some of the ladies had already come to the house for the prayer meeting and I said, let’s pray because this is what’s happening right now,” recalled Doris. “We sang a few song and one was, I was lost and now I’m found. So I said let’s pray that.”
Their prayers were answered — but that’s not the whole story.
Two Little Rock police officers, Sergeant Brian Grigsby and Officer Troy Dillard, came across the wandering man, who was confused and couldn’t remember where his home was. But there was one thing he was most definitely not confused about.
“I said, ‘I need you to get in the car with me so you can go back home.'” Sergeant Grigsby remembers. “He said, ‘Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I need to get my wife some flowers.'”
And Melvin Armine was not taking no for an answer. “He was pretty adamant,” said Grigsby.
The two officers reported to their dispatcher that they had Melvin and were taking him home — but first, they had an errand to run. They tried the gardening department at Home Depot.
“Those were not the flowers he wanted. He wanted cut flowers,” said Grigsby.
Next stop, a Kroger grocery store. There, they found the flowers that Melvin knew, with absolute clarity, that he was looking for. But the man had only 13 bucks on him. So the officers slipped the clerk the difference.
Then they drove Melvin Armine home — bearing flowers for the love of his life.
“When I saw him waking up with those flowers in hand, it just about broke my heart because I thought ‘oh he went there to get me flowers because he loves me,'” said an emotional Doris.
She also says she owes a debt to the two officers.
“I appreciate all the policemen and I will pray everyday for them because I know it’s not an easy job and they are human beings like we are,” she said, after the two police officers returned Melvin Armine to her.