Debby Skramstad Nickell living ‘a mother’s worst nightmare’

For Debby Skramstad Nickell of Lake Cowichan, life lately has been a combination of worrying and waiting.

She has had no news of her son, Rodney MacKinnon, since he went missing May 2. "It’s a mother’s worst nightmare," she said, adding that sometimes she’s not sure how she actually copes with it.

"You sort of feel like a basketball where you’re thrown up in the air and you’re just about ready to hit the ground and explode when someone catches you. If it wasn’t for family and friends I don’t think I’d be in very good shape," she said.

One of the ways to deal with the pain and tension is to go out and physically look for her 35-year-old son herself.

"Today [Wednesday] we were out. We walked, we four-byed up some pretty incredible roads. We got out and wandered around. I swear to God I’ve lost my voice from calling his name."

Night times are challenging. "At two or three o’clock in the morning, I’ll get up and wander downtown just in case he’s come into town. It’s mind boggling the different things that go through your mind. You just act upon anything, any thought," Skramstad Nickell said.

She said she didn’t know how many people were still out searching but there were lots of them. "Sometimes I just break down and cry because of the support we’ve gotten. And from people I don’t even know, too. Some of those people on Facebook commenting on Rod’s Facebook page [Search for Rod MacKinnon] I’ve never met before. They’ve even taken days off of work to continue looking for any sign of him. Words cannot say how someone feels about that."

She agrees with her friend, Susan Kenyon Lowe, who earlier this week downplayed any idea that MacKinnon has simply gone off somewhere on his own without telling anyone.

"Rod came home to the Lake from Calgary because his grandfather was elderly and having health problems. He said, ‘I can work in Calgary anytime. I have only a limited time with my grandfather and I want to spend it with him.’ That’s why him disappearing is so out of character," Skramstad Nickell said.

"He wouldn’t have walked away. Not when he relocated to be by his grandfather. He dropped in to see him all the time, as well as coming to give me a hand whenever I needed it."

Right now, with MacKinnon still missing, it’s just a case of keeping on keeping on, she said.

"We still have hope. If we haven’t found any clues, it just means we have to look a little harder."

She has been overwhelmed by the way people have stepped up to help out.

They are giving her a little piece of their own hearts every time, she said.

"Food being dropped off. Delivered to the mountain, to the people who were searching. And just the other day a lady I never met in my life showed up at the house and she said, ‘I’m looking for the mother of the lost boy. We’re going hiking and we wanted to get some posters of him so we all knew who were looking for.’ That’s so amazing. That woman didn’t have to spend her day doing that but she chose to. The community is really, really what’s keeping me going."

Family, too, (her step-daughter, son and daughter, as well as the seven-year-old she’s caring for) is there for Skramstad Nickell.

Anyone with information about MacKinnon should call Lake Cowichan RCMP at 250-749-6668. Posters will be taken to all campgrounds for the upcoming long weekend.

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