Pardon me while I break into your blog reading for a not so brief public service announcement. After hearing the news out of Vegas yesterday I wanted to tell the story of how I used to live in fear that one day it might be my turn in front of the cameras trying to make sense of a senseless act committed by a loved one.
While the details of this particular case remain to be seen, yesterday I wove a story in my own head from the ordeal I went through with my old man when he was in the very early stages of dementia. It's all so clear now but it wasn't then.
Daddio loved guns. He had them all over the house. He was a responsible gun owner who taught us all to shoot when we were kids. He hunted but never brought home a dead thing. He could never pull the trigger. It was all good until.....
... about ten years ago when he began to change. He started being angry about things that didn't make sense to me. He grew paranoid. Not all the time. Just during his "spells" when he talked at length about wanting to hurt people. I could see he wasn't himself when he got this way. I tried to get help but he was always fine when he was at the doctor's and he would just laugh it off. No one took me seriously.
After a scary episode with a neighbor, I took the guns. I was afraid to come through the door when I came to care for him not knowing if he was waiting in ambush. I had to tear the house up to find them all. He was good at hiding them. He was furious with me. Too bad.
Did this end the nightmare? No. Then it was knives. I had to take them all too when he threatened to use one on a first responder who came to help him into an ambulance. During a routine hospitalization for an illness, he tried to hurt a nurse with a dinner knife he had hidden in his bed. He has had to be sent to a mental health facility twice since he has been in long term care for this sudden irrational urge to hurt people.
He was put out of his first nursing home for plotting to kill his roommate with a knife he took from the kitchen. My dad. Dear old quilting Daddio. He could be fine and then be planning to kill someone in a split second. Dementia does that.
My message here is that if you have older folks that have an arsenal at home as so many do-keep a close eye. There by the grace of God....it's not me this time but for years I worried myself sick that it might be.