Not long after being dispatched to help find an 83-year-old man who was reported missing after he walked off from his Little Rock home Saturday, police Sgt. Brian Grigsby saw a person matching the description walking along Markham Street.
Grigsby, a 17-year veteran of the force who works out of its Northwest Subdivision, made a quick U-turn in his patrol car and stopped beside the figure, who was indeed missing Alzheimer's patient Melvin Amrine.
"I told him, 'If you don't mind, get in the car and I'll take you home,'" Grigsby recalled Thursday. "And he said, 'No. Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I need to get my wife some flowers.'"
What happened next earned Grigsby and Officer Troy Dillard letters of commendation Thursday for "going above and beyond" the call of duty, not to mention helping Amrine make his way back home with a thoughtful holiday offering in tow.
The officers that day — Grigsby with Amrine in his patrol car and Dillard in a separate car behind him — called in that they had located the missing man and then proceeded to take him to Home Depot. They had flowers there, but not the type Amrine was looking for.
So Grigsby drove on to a Kroger on Chenal Parkway, where the two officers went in with Amrine while employees cut roses, placed them in a glass vase and boxed it up.
Then it came time to pay. Amrine had just $13, and his tab was a little more.
"I went to pull my wallet out and before I could get my cash out of my wallet, Officer Dillard threw his money on the counter and covered the rest of his balance," Grigsby said. "The mission was to make sure he was happy. And that made me happy."
Dillard said he didn't think twice about dipping into his own pocket to cover the small difference.
"He had dementia," the officer recalled. "He couldn't remember if he asked us the same questions or not. He couldn't remember how to get home. But I really found it good that he remembered he needed to get his wife some flowers for Mother's Day."
Dillard called it a "heartfelt type of situation he had going on, kind of like The Notebook or a Nicholas Sparks-type thing."
"Who are we to stand in the way of that?" he added.
After the flowers had been secured, the two officers took Amrine back to his home on Rainwood Cove, where his wife and daughter had been anxiously awaiting his return.
"He made a beeline straight to the front door and he gave the flowers to [his wife]," Dillard said. "She had watery eyes and she was just very happy to see him. He was like, 'Hey, I went and got you some flowers for Mother's Day.' It kind of warms you up a little bit.
"You have your highs and lows, and there's a lot of lows. But this is definitely one of the really high highs."