Updated: Jan 12
The Missing American
When American Gordon Tilson joined the Peace Corps in the 1980s, he went to the country of Ghana for his service. There, he met and fell in love with Regina, a Ghanaian woman who became his wife. Regina gave birth to their only child, Derek, after the couple returned together to Washington, DC.
Gordon and Regina truly loved each other. Regina established herself within a circle of influential Ghanaians in the DC area, particularly the diplomatic set. Gordon willingly tagged along with her to various parties and official events. Essentially, he was happy so long as Regina was happy.
After decades of Gordon and his wife being together, their happiness was snatched away as Regina developed ovarian cancer and subsequently died of the disease, which typically has a dismal prognosis. Gordon, now a widower, was devastated. He felt as if a part of him had been chopped out and he couldn’t imagine going on without his beloved.
But, as much as he doubted he would, he survived and came to terms with the death of his wife after a long, difficult period of adjustment. In many ways, Derek, now a young adult, was his rock. Gordon became a kind of unofficial counselor for others going through the loss of a spouse, joining a Facebook group called Widows & Widowers, where he helped ease the pain of other members seeking solace. Nevertheless, that Derek was lonesome is undeniable. The void created by Regina’s absence had never really been filled. As he grew older, that feeling of emptiness intensified rather than ameliorating.
Accra’s growing skyline (Photo: Yaw Ansong/Wikipedia)
The timing seemed perfect then, when Helena, a beautiful Ghanaian woman in Accra, reached out to Gordon on the Widows & Widowers page. He would always remember the day well, because it was two days before Thanksgiving Day that he met Helena online. She too, had lost her spouse years prior. She seemed quite taken with Gordon, and he her. The online communication progressed until they were Skyping and WhatsApping regularly. Gordon’s feelings for Helena deepened by the day.
Then, disaster struck. Helena’s sister Stella was maimed badly in an auto crash, which can be particularly lethal in Ghana. Medical care, particularly intensive care, is not free in Ghana. If you can’t pay, you may not survive an illness. Unable to fund Stella’s stay in the ICU, Helena faced the possibility that her sister might die.
There was no way Gordon, on hearing this news, could simply stand by and let this happen, so he sent Helena money to pay for medical expenses to the tune of about $4000. Stella pulled through, and Gordon was instrumental in turning around a potential tragedy. Helena owed him a debt of gratitude.
This event served to strengthen Gordon’s and Helena’s bond, and eventually Gordon decided, in fierce opposition to Derek’s advice to the contrary, that he just had to visit Ghana, once again, to meet Helena. Imagine his excitement on the morning he landed at Accra’s airport, complete with its brand new Terminal 3. His anticipation was not to be rewarded, however. Gordon never did meet the woman he envisaged as the new love of his life. In fact, things went from bad to worse. Gordon never returned to Washington, DC. Back at home, Derek lost contact with his dad. As the weeks passed, it became clear that Gordon Tilson had now become the missing American in Ghana. What did happen to him? The book, The Missing American has the answers.
The Missing American (Jan 14 2020)
The Missing American, introducing the first Ghanaian female private investigator in fiction, will be released January 14, 2020. It’s available for pre-order from all locations online and at your neighborhood brick-and-mortar store.