I don’t like the sound of pounding on the door in the middle of the night and the flashing lights, badges and uniforms added to my apprehension. I opened the door a crack and the man asked if I knew the people in the house next door. Yes, that was my in-laws’ home. Why?
When have you seen your father-in-law? Well, I checked on him after I got home from work and made sure he had something to eat. What’s going on? He showed up on the doorstep of a house up the road almost a half mile away. He was barefooted and looked like he had crawled through a blackberry patch full of briers. The exposed skin was torn and bloody. He’d made quite a picture, I’m sure. The people had called an ambulance and, since he didn’t have any identification, the hospital had alerted the police. That explained the interruption in the night.
They questioned me further. Would someone besides me go into the house? Not to my knowledge. Again, why?? It looked as though the place had been ransacked but it didn’t look like anything was missing.
I asked where the ambulance had taken him and was told he was at the hospital on the opposite side of the mountain from where I work. I excused myself to go put on some clothes so I could go to the hospital. They loaded up the cruiser and left.
The house, at that point, was the least of my worries. I tried to keep within the speed limit as I swooped down the mountain. I knew there were authorities around and I didn’t want to add a ticket to the unfolding drama.
Traffic was light so I still made good time. I presented myself at the desk in the emergency room and said I understood they were treating my father-in-law. The clerk asked for his name and I told her. She said he was being seen by the doctor but I could go in. There he was on a gurney with an IV going. The doctor said he was severely dehydrated which had thrown his electrolytes out of balance. That had caused confusion. He asked if he had ever been diagnosed with diabetes. Not to my knowledge, no.
I’d taken some blankets and the nurse had bagged the torn and bloody clothes. The IV fluids had been warmed in the microwave and as soon as he was given another bag, he was ready to go. He was dressed in a Seymour nightgown so we wrapped him in blankets and put him in the car. He looked like an ancient Indian brave sitting bolt upright in the car.
He was embarrassed by his predicament and kept apologizing on the way home. I assured him that all was well that ended well. When we went into the house, what a sight met my eyes! The TV had been knocked off the stand and was in the middle of the dining room floor. Magazines and papers were scattered everywhere. It did look like someone had torn through things but, as the police said, nothing appeared to be missing.
I stacked things up and put the little TV back where it belonged. My brothers-in-law had given the couple a nice big TV with all the bells and whistles but they couldn’t even figure out how to turn it on. It went back where it came from. It was a mercy it was the little TV that was knocked over.
FIL climbed into his pajamas and went to bed, exhausted, and I went back to my house to try to get some sleep before I had to get up and go to work.
From work, I called my brother-in-law. I was willing to do whatever I could for my FIL but I couldn’t be there to watch him all the time. Something would have to be done. I had to support myself and DD and I couldn’t do that from home. He agreed to come up with a solution.
Back when both my in-laws were living at home, my FIL had made the decision that he must insure DD and I had a home if anything happened to them. He wanted to have the place surveyed, split the property and deed the house we lived in with the land to me. I objected saying I didn’t feel I had a right to it. He kept insisting so we agreed he would put DD’s name on the papers. The surveyor was hired, the property was split and “for $1 and other considerations”, DD became a property owner. Under the present circumstances, it was providential.
FIL was increasingly confused. One day, he called me at work which was highly unusual. It was a long distance call and he was notoriously frugal. He told me I needed to come home right away. I asked him why—what was so important? He’d gotten the mail out of the box and there was a big letter that said I’d won $10,000,000. It was funny but at the same time, it was sad.
He had a white 67 Chevy Impala that was his pride and joy. My BIL was concerned he would try driving it and end up who knows where or be in an accident and kill himself or someone else or both. He contacted a cousin who came and disconnected a wire which would render the car unable to start. Then he called all the area mechanics and told them to be too busy to fix it.
Sure enough, my FIL went out to go somewhere while I was at work. The car wouldn’t start. Not being mechanically inclined, he had no idea what to do to fix it. He was just about in tears when I got home. He’d called the station at the end of the road and they didn’t have time to come look at it. Another fellow who had worked on the car several times gave him the same answer. After a few more days, he gave the car away to the cousin who had disabled it. He figured if it wouldn’t run, he didn’t need it. It was shock when the cousin reconnected the wire and drove off. He marveled at that miracle for a long, long time.
My BIL conferred with his siblings and decided to take my FIL to stay with him and his wife. The black cat I’d gotten to replace the one that got hit by a car went with him. He was sitting in the car looking forlorn at having to leave his mountain home. I felt so bad for him but there was nothing I could do to remedy the situation. It was a lose-lose.
I thought I was alone before but now I was truly alone. My father-in-law lived with his eldest son for several years and made life very interesting for them. At least he was getting three squares a day and I didn’t have to worry about him.
But now, back to the future—our department had a new manager and a new biller. How was that working out?