The story begins with a dementia caregiver's greatest fear: on the day before Mother's Day, Melvyn Amrine—a man who'd been living with an Alzheimer's diagnosis for more than three years—wandered away from his home and got lost, according to a CBS News report.
A frantic 9-1-1 call from Melvyn's wife, Doris, had the police scouring the town of Little Rock, Arkansas in the hopes of locating the missing man.
Sergeant Bryan Grigsby and Officer Troy Dillard finally found Melvyn, two miles away form the house he and Doris shared. But even though the older man was lost, it was obvious to both officers that Melvyn knew exactly where he wanted to go—and it wasn't back home.
"It was absolutely a moment of clarity for him," Grigsby says in an interview with CBS. After learning the truth about why Melvyn had ventured beyond the safety of his house, Grigsby and Dillard knew they had to help him complete his noble quest: to purchase a Mother's Day bouquet for Doris, a tradition he'd started after the birth of their first child.
The officers stopped at a local Kroger, where they helped Melvyn pick out a bunch of white roses for the woman he'd been married to for over 60 years. When the older man had trouble paying, one of the officers chipped in to cover the cost, then they escorted him back home to Doris.
They may not have known it, but by helping Melvyn achieve his goal, Grigsby and Dillard had engaged in a form of validation therapy, a highly-touted behavioral technique many experts believe helps people with dementia feel safe and supported. Rather than taking Melvyn home against his wishes, the officers made an effort to enter his world and honor his wishes to get flowers for his wife.
When the three men finally showed up at her door, Doris was both relieved and awed by her husband's devotion: "Even though the mind doesn't remember everything, the heart remembers," she says.