Sunday morning at 6:10 a.m. the doorbell rang, followed by a banging on the front room window. It was to be a Father’s Day like none other.
My husband and I were in the kitchen getting ready for breakfast. I got to the window first. I looked out to see a little old man standing there on the front porch. Don was right behind me as I opened the door.
The elderly man was clad in pajama bottoms, a sweatshirt and white stockings. He had walked through damp grass and gravel. He had been walking, he said, to get away from those crazy people. A lady was going to shoot him with a gun.
Don quickly brought out a big folding camp chair from the closet, and we seated our visitor outside on the front porch. Don went in to phone 911, while I sat on the porch step and held conversation. He told me his name was Lawrence Fisher and recited an address in Pinetop. He said there were sick people in that house; they were all crazy.
I figured out that he’d walked down our street from the Alzheimer adult care home that housed 7 or 8 residents around the corner on Surrey Way. Who knows how long he had been wandering around. For some unexplained reason he picked out our house from the others; here he was safe. And he needed to talk.
He went on to recall he had been an electrician, had worked in Chicago and North Dakota. We chatted as easily as old friends, though sometimes he paused, deep in thought.
I assured him several times that I was glad he came to our house. At one point I asked if I could pray for him. He responded that he was not a religious man, but it would be fine with him. With my hand on his arm I talked to God about him, praying God’s love and help for his situation. He was smiling when I opened my eyes.
Our neighbor, Howard drove slowly down the street, but didn’t look our way. His house was next door to the adult care home, and surely he had been notified that the man was missing. I was relieved we could have a little more time to talk to Mr. Fisher.
By then Don had discussed the matter with the police, and an officer was on the way. Don stood in the doorway, and we both listened to the man calmly describe his plight. He knew he was lost, but he didn’t want to be found.
Then we saw the woman, distraught, running down our street. She saw us, and hurried up our sidewalk. “That’s her. She wants to shoot me,” he informed us in an agitated voice.
I reassured him that sometimes medicine made a person feel mixed up, and it was then he volunteered that he had cancer, but didn’t take those pills.
As the frantic woman approached Don walked out to meet her and quietly explained that he’d already called 911. He said we’d wait with Mr. Fisher for the officer to come. Obviously, Don felt it would be better for the officer to talk to the man and keep him calm, before the officer took him to the adult care home.
She left, looking both reluctant and relieved, and we sat there in the Arizona sunshine listening to the nice old man. He seemed at ease and trusted that we cared about him.
Finally, the officer drove up. Don walked out to the driveway to fill him in, then the smiling, young policeman approached the old man and me. He offered to drive the man back home, and listened patiently as the man described how he had to get out of there when the lady was going to shoot him. The officer volunteered to search the house for any guns, and make sure it was safe for him to return.
Don and I assured him that it would be good for him to go back now, and we were so glad that he had come to our house this morning. We walked him around to the front seat of the patrol car and told him good-bye; that the nice officer would be sure he was OK.
After they left Don and I marveled at the morning’s unusual events. God had entrusted to us for a short while somebody’s lost father, a man old and confused. We got to be the ones to show him some compassion and a little love. He was lost, now he was found. As we held hands Don prayed that Mr. Fisher would find the peace he so desperately sought.
The Bible verse in yesterday’s morning devotions came to mind, so I looked it up and read, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be full of grace. . .” (Colossians 4:5-6, NIV).
It was a Father’s Day to remember.
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by Elaine Hardt ©2005