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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Westport Artist’s “Special Eye” Spots Missing Woman

As a Westport artist, illustrator (and Mom) Elaine Clayton has a special eye. It came in handy Friday as she noticed an elderly woman walking along Compo Road South. WestportNow.com Image
Elaine Clayton’s illustration of the missing woman. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed graphic

Moments later, Clayton received a CodeRed automatic notification call from police informing her that a 74-year-old woman with dementia had been missing for more than five hours from her Post Road East condominium.

She called police and told them about the woman. Moments later, police called back and said the woman she had spotted indeed was the missing woman. Someone else called in as well. (See WestportNow Oct. 30, 2009)

“I was gushingly thrilled and started whooping and hollering,” Clayton wrote on her Illuminara blog in an entry she titled “Westport Police Bulletin and Vision Angels” where she also posted a sketch of the woman. “I felt like I had just won the lottery!

“Something great had happened, and I didn’t have to do anything but notice a person while driving home.”

In a message to Westport First Selectman Gordon F. Joseloff, Clayton said: “We are so glad you introduced this alert system to Westport. I was very touched by the power of how well this system worked.”WestportNow.com Image
Elaine Clayton: “I felt like I had just won the lottery!” Contributed photo

Here is the full text of Clayton’s account of what happened on Friday:

I always hear about “divine timing” but sometimes The Divine works through our eyes.

Today was my son’s class Halloween party. I wasn’t going to go, but then at the last minute decided I would go. So I drove to the school and spent time in my son’s class and we had a great time and the party was fun.

When the bell rang, my son and I took our time leaving school. On the drive home, in the fresh autumn air and waning afternoon sunshine, I noticed a woman walking along the sidewalk near our house.

I was driving, but I took a mental picture of her as I drove by. Visually, for me, time sort of stopped. The sun was on her, and shadows from leafless trees were dancing on her back.

I noticed she wore denim and had white hair. I especially noticed the light on her hair. She limped a little. She was walking at a quick pace but with some effort. And that was that, a mental picture for me that would get stored away in my artist brain, I guess.

I take mental pictures all the time, so I thought nothing of it, although there was a quality to it I cannot describe this time.

We were home less than a few minutes later and the phone rang. It was a local police bulletin announcing that an older woman with dementia had last been seen at 10 a.m. up on the Post Road. She was wearing denim.

I thought of the woman I had just seen and taken a mental picture of, and from where the missing woman was last seen, it was a very, very long way away.

Since it sounded like the police were describing the woman I had just taken a mental picture of while driving, I thought “If the person I saw is this missing person, no wonder she was limping, she’s walked several miles to be all the way over here.”

I immediately called the police and asked if this woman they were looking for had white hair and they said yes. I told them where I had just seen her.

Within 10 minutes I was called again by the police and they told me fantastic news!  The woman I had seen and reported seeing was the missing person they had been looking for!

I was gushingly thrilled and started whooping and hollering. I felt like I had just won the lottery! Something great had happened, and I didn’t have to do anything but notice a person while driving home.

I am very visual, being a figurative artist, but if you had asked me to describe all the walkers, bikers, joggers I had passed on the road on the way home, I might not be able to tell you too much.

For some reason, I knew exactly what this woman looked like (from behind at least) and the timing was not only divine in this case, it was a visual blessing.

Something more extraordinary had happened, because while I took visual note of a person walking, I felt compelled to really register her for some reason, all very quickly as we drove by her.

I am pretty sure the policeman on the phone thought I was the oddest lady he’d talked to in a while, the way I was celebrating with shouts of glee. But all I could think was how the system worked, the woman was found safely well before nightfall, and what a great gift it was!

I would be distraught had it been my own mother. So, I say thanks to the Westport Police, and thanks to whatever angel came through to us today, Vision Angels who work through the sunlight and shadows on a busy street.


Posted 10/31/09 at 01:03 PM  Permalink


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This is a true good-news story.

Posted by Susan Thomsen on October 31, 2009 at 04:27 PM | #

I’m so happy our town has been up-dated to such an efficient, effective notification system for all.
    Many hearts and minds are resting easier hearing the wonderful ending of this true story.
    Congratulations to all involved.

Posted by Ann Marie Flynn on October 31, 2009 at 06:35 PM | #

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