HIS BODY IS BURIED IN A SMALL CEMETERY IN MISSOURI BUT HIS SPIRIT RESTS WITH ME.
The morning he stood in the family driveway, and, without the slightest agitation, announced to the man in the yard next to the driveway, “Mr. Payne, stop sleeping with my wife or I’ll use my shotgun to blow your head off!” Continuing, in a soft, respectful voice, Daddy warned Mr. Payne to heed his words or “My gun will put a hole where your face use to be!”
It was noontime when I received an emotional phone call from Mr. Payne’s wife. Immediately, I assumed something dreadful had happened to my parents. As the hysterical woman attempted to relate my father’s impossible accusation and threat, I knew I had to act quickly. I urged the distraught neighbor to remain calm; I would be there in ten minutes. Driving to the Payne house, I prayed. I begged God to intervene and keep the situation from getting worse. Apparently, my father was delusional. Knowing advancing dementia now controlled my father’s every action, I questioned if daddy was capable of shooting anyone. I also wondered why Ms. Payne had telephoned me instead of my mother.
Later, I learned Mrs. Payne HAD called my mother. Bits and pieces of the incident--- contributed by both Mr. and Mrs. Payne-- and later-- by my mother, grew into a bunch of puzzle pieces. I struggled to fit them together, to get a clear picture of what happened. Apparently, after my daddy’s threat, Mr. Payne had run to his house, bolted the doors and windows-- then yelled to his wife, “Call Ms. Miller! Hurry! Mr. Miller has gone crazy; he’s threatening to kill me. He’s got a gun!”
I remember every detail of Mrs. Payne’s phone call. I’m reminded of the shock I felt when I learned of my father’s actions. I cringed when I heard how Mr. Payne had run to the safety of his home, bolted the doors and windows and begun calling for help. That afternoon, stepping on the porch of the Payne family’s home— I prayed God would grant me strength and lots of courage. When Mr. and Mrs. Payne opened their front door, I saw terror in the faces of a simple-living, loving, and Christian couple. This older, married twosome had lived in the same house, in the same neighborhood, for more than fifty years. For the first-time-ever, they feared for their lives.
Trying to explaining how a loving person…like my father... can look and act normal while being totally- possessed by a medical monster like Dementia… can be overwhelming. After assuring the Payne Family that ALL guns had been removed from my daddy’s house, their tension eased but only slightly. Nothing I said could erase my father’s shocking accusation that Mr. Payne was having sex with my mother. After a somewhat “touchy and awkward’ visit, I finally left the Payne home. Two years later, my father died.
The day after my father’s funeral, I drove into my parents’ driveway and spotted Mr. Payne in his yard, raking leaves. Catching his gaze, I smiled and waved. Dropping the rake, Mr. Payne began running, full speed, toward his back door. Years later, I learned that our neighbors lived in constant fear, completely-traumatized by my father’s threat… until they both died.
PS…I will always believe my mother taunted, teased, and deliberately abused my father as he aged---especially after his Dementia diagnosis. I have no doubt my mother planted the “seed” that she and our neighbor, Mr. Payne, were having an affair. EVIL knows no limits.