I’ve been writing about TIFF for a while now, always with the conviction that everyone needs this system in place in their lives. I’ve told Christine Olson’s story, I’ve recounted several other stories of people who lost loved ones and can see the purpose and reason for quick response times. I’ve interview our county’s sheriff to learn what happens at an accident scene, so I can better inform you, our readers and supporters. TIFF is a movement based on awareness, on sharing information that could be incredibly helpful to you someday. And for me, this became a real need last week.
Friday night my kids and I were just wrapping up our week. As I was fixing dinner and keeping tabs on who still needed a shower, I was also picking up the house and keeping an eye on the clock. My dad was driving across the state of Florida, from his coast to mine, to visit for the weekend. He should have left after work and would be arriving around 9pm. Now it was approaching 7:30, then 8pm, and I hadn’t heard from him. He always calls or texts to let me know he’s on the road. He must’ve just forgot.
My dad lives alone, and while officially retired, at 71 years old, he still has plenty of energy and work ethic left. He manages a local retirement community near his home on the east coast of Florida. He tells me about it whenever we talk, but I don’t think I’ve ever caught the actual name of the place. I do know that dad recently had out-patient surgery on one of his eyes, but since recovering from that earlier in the month, he’s already driven to my sister’s house in the panhandle and been back to work for a week. So, between a busy week back at work, and the possibility that he’s still on some pain medication, it’s possible he just got on the road and forgot to fill me in. Or, something more traumatic could have happened. But it wasn’t time to worry yet.
By 8:30, the kids started asking what time Grandad was arriving. I began to voice my concerns, but in an unconcerned voice. “He was supposed to leave work around 5 or 6, I think he said. That should put him arriving between 9 and 10, right? I guess he just forgot to text…” I went ahead and text him, “Didn’t hear from you! Are you on the road?” I figured he’d see it when he stopped for a break.
By 9:30, I was officially starting to worry. Possible scenarios were racing through my mind. Maybe something happened and he never left town. Maybe something happened while he was driving. Does he have TIFF? If so, either I or my sister would be his contact. When I text her, she said she’d communicated with him earlier in the afternoon, but he hadn’t mentioned anything about coming to my place. If dad DID have TIFF, I would be sure at this point that he was safe, because I hadn’t heard anything. If something had happened, the police would have contacted us. No news is good news… unless no news is because no one knows to contact you.
At 10pm I called the local police in his town. I asked them to stop by his house to see if he was still there. My thinking was that maybe he’d forgotten about coming to see us, or at least we could rule out that possibility. I described his car and where it would be parked in his condo parking lot. I mentioned that he’d recently had surgery and could still be on medication. I mentioned that he was supposed to be driving a dark, two-lane road across the state right now. Then I watched my phone and waited.
All I could think about was the fact that IF something had happened during the drive- an accident, falling asleep at the wheel, anything like that- AND dad had TIFF, I would already know about it. The not knowing… that’s what we’re trying to prevent. The evening of wondering and worrying and concocting scenarios to see how plausible they are… that doesn’t serve anyone. TIFF’s mission is to alleviate all of that for everyone. And in my worry, I discovered my need for this system.
Of course, the call that came 10 minutes later answered all of our questions. Dad was home, watching the basketball game, with his phone charging in another room. He was all set to come visit the NEXT weekend. We got our signals crossed. Of course, floods of relief washed over me as the reality of the situation set in. We had a good laugh about it, but I’ll be making sure he’s registered with TIFF before actually making the drive this weekend. Just in case.