Though not a family secret, we rarely mentioned it.
In the years before Mom’s death in 2013, I don’t recall talking with her about it. Dad, who dearly loved his father-in-law, never once discussed it with me. I suppose it spawned too many harsh memories and, inevitably, an immense sadness.
What is it? Suicide.
With my family, the memory is hyphenated: murder-suicide.
In April of 1978, likely before midnight on a cool spring evening in the California town of Merced, my grandfather slept alone in his bed. His wife of a few years—not my grandmother—entered the room. She gripped a pistol. She shot Grandpa at point blank range in the head. Several times.
She exited their bedroom, retreated along a hallway, crossed through several rooms, and finally settled onto a chair in a different part of the house. Seconds or moments or maybe even a half-hour later, she pulled the trigger again.
The woman who murdered Grandpa and then took her own life entered my grandfather’s life after Grandma’s untimely death. Mutual friends introduced them. Did Grandpa fall in love with her? As a widower, was he was lonely and vulnerable? Maybe she schemed to wrap him around her finger? Or did their ill-fated relationship just happen as so many relationships do? But at some point, something changed. To me, way back then, in a time focused on seminary and starting a career in ministry, she seemed like an okay person. Nearly everyone seems normal until they are not.
Why did she squeeze that trigger multiple times in the deep darkness of an April night? Read More →by