murder

That’s quite a post title! You’ll understand in a minute. I’m about to share my March assignment. I figure why stop now? We’re two classes from the end and then I’ll stop inflicting my stories on you.

Don’t believe everything you read.

Weighing on what we learned from Betty Hockett’s instruction on writing our life story, we were asked to write a memory. Here’s mine. Oh—first a head’s up:  The pictures I include at the end might be a bit disturbing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DON’T THINK it wasn’t funny when my dad talked about the day he was murdered. By the time he could talk again, it was funny. However, his assault was anything but!

Up in Michigan, Paul and I were handing out Halloween candy to a steady stream of costumed visitors when a call came from my brother in Florida, informing us that our 84-year-old dad had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead in a downtown Jacksonville post office. His assailant had straddled him and beat his face into a terrazzo floor. Somehow Dad managed to get himself up and out to his locked car, choose the right key on his ring, and drive himself the wrong way down a one-way street to First Baptist Church several blocks away. The men who normally greeted Carl Nill outside the church could recognize only the car, not the driver, whose collective facial features resembled a mangled basketball. Emergency transportation quickly delivered Dad to a nearby hospital, where surgeons pieced together his fully fractured face.

Meanwhile, I made fast preparations to leave my family for another unknown stretch of time. Only five months earlier I had made numerous trip to Florida to help with Mother’s care during her final illness. So a pattern for departure had been well established.

The intensive care waiting room became my home for the next two weeks. Every few hours hospital rules allowed us ten minutes in Dad’s room. For the first few days we talked mainly to the doctors and nurses, but then Dad showed signs of wanting to communicate. His tracheotomy and the wires holding his face together limited his options. So with hand motions he asked for a pad of paper and a pen. Did he have unaddressed pain? Did he need to vent anger about his situation? Did he want to tell us he was glad we were there? None of these. He wanted to ask his doctors and nurses if they know the Lord, do they go to church, would they like to hear about Jesus?

Dad recovered, though never fully. One eye healed lower than the other, causing double vision. He had to stop driving, curtailing his independence. It would have been reasonable for him to become fearful as a result of his experience. Or angry. Or self-centered. But it did not alter his spirit one iota. He talked about his “murder” matter-of-factly, accepting it in the same way he accepted the death of his wife of 50 years. His lifelong resourcefulness served him well, which simply means he found just as much mischief after that fateful Halloween night as before. And in Job-like fashion, through two major losses, Dad demonstrated his wholehearted belief and confidence in God’s goodness.

My parents on their 50th anniversary. Mother died 5 months later.

One day after surgery.

Up and about.

Back at his home, still wired shut. The button above his right eye holds the end of the wire they would eventually pull out. Eek.

This picture shows just how crooked he ended up.

Eight years later and two days before he left this earth. Giving me the V-for-VICTORY sign, a trademark throughout his life.

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9 Responses to murder

  1. Carol Beard says:

    Yes, quite a story! I still believe the police officer that suddenly appeared in the post office causing the
    “murderer” to flee was an angel preventing him from finishing Dad off. I had forgotten the one way street part. It was amazing, as I look back, that Dad could remember the details of the event to share later…one would think he would have been in shock at the time with loss of memory. And, as we have all said, the blessing to come out of it was that he HAD to stop driving; he may have been mellow about some things but he could be very very stubborn and giving up his car keys would have been near impossible!

  2. Craig MacDonald says:

    Was the attacker ever caught?

  3. Shawn says:

    I so remember when that happened. Those pictures were inspiration to see and so “Uncle Carl”. Thanks for sharing

  4. Ridge says:

    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Seems to be you’re a chip off the block, for sure. I don’t remember your ever telling us this story. What an amazing testimony!

  5. Julene says:

    ..and quite a life legacy he left you!

  6. Betty M. Hockett says:

    Thanks, WF, for this great story, so well-written and interesting. You captivated my interest right off when you said your dad talked about the day he was murdered. Clever! And what a great testimony about his love for God, wanting to witness even at a time he was severely incapacitated. Bless his heart. Keep on writing those memories, you’re off to an excellent start.

    Blessings,
    WF

  7. Paula says:

    I can see the resemblance. Um… in photo #1. And in the spunk you so obviously inherited from your dad. Great story! Thanks for sharing.
    P

  8. Pingback: celebrate good times, come on! | Mauri and Sherry

  9. Pingback: “v” is for what? | a little bit of this and a little bit of that

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