“Still no mail,” my mother told my father after returning from the post office. They were desperately waiting for the balance of the down payment from the buyer of our house that they sold before we moved back to Santa Rosa, California. But nothing came. We had left most of our possessions behind when we made this move and had used the initial portion of the down payment to pay bills and to put a small down payment on a new home. We were now all sleeping on the floor without mattresses. We did not have a refrigerator, television, or other things many people consider to be necessities.
My dad was counting on that money to start a new business. He did not know what to do, so he drove out into the hills and prayed. He received the answer to lease the house we were buying to someone else and then rent a less expensive home for us so that we could have a small amount of monthly cash flow. My parents put an ad in the newspaper, and a few people came by to look at our empty house occupied by our family with six children. A day or so later, a man wearing a jacket came by at night, walked through the house, looked at the yard, and said he was interested and wanted to discuss terms. My dad set up two folding chairs in the front room, and they began talking. Being a curious lad, I stood in the hall and periodically would peek around the corner to watch them. I was shocked when the man adjusted his sitting position on the uncomfortable chair, and his jacket opened up enough for me to see that he was wearing a shoulder holster carrying a pistol. I ran to my mom in the kitchen and said, “That man has a gun!” She said that I must be mistaken and to not bother my dad and this potential renter.
The next day, my parents told us that the mysterious man was moving to California from the East Coast and needed a place to rent right away. He said that he trained guard dogs and liked our big yard so much that he offered to pay for a whole year’s rent up front for a small discount on the rent. My dad accepted the offer, so we moved a couple of days later. My parents felt it was a miracle. Now they would have some money to start a business to provide for our needs.
Unfortunately, about five months later, the money was gone, and the business was not profitable. Then my dad received the distinct impression that we needed to move far away as soon as possible. So, off to Redding, California, we went, where we rented a shack in a rundown trailer park outside of town. About a year later, we saw an article in the newspaper about a famous mafia hit man under the federal witness protection program who was shot and killed outside his rented home in Santa Rosa. The picture in the paper confirmed that the hitman was the mysterious man with a gun who rented our house. He didn’t train guard dogs. He owned them for his protection. After reading this article, my dad was convinced that if he didn’t follow his impression to move, our renter would have murdered us when my parents could no longer make the house payments. Often, we don’t know what would have happened if we didn’t follow an impression, but sometimes God gives us a glimpse.
As an adult looking back, I can clearly see that my father struggled with depression and may have been bipolar. After our move to Redding, I believe that my father became clinically depressed for years, even though he never sought any treatment. He became so depressed that he often didn’t want to get out of bed or work. So my mom finally took matters into her own hands and traveled around the area selling direct-mail advertising to small businesses and was quite successful at it.
One of the main lessons I want to share from this period of my life is that parents, family members, and others may struggle with mental health conditions that negatively affect relationships, but these challenges result more from a medical issue than a moral deficiency. Accordingly, we should be hesitant to cast blame, and realize that professional assistance can provide relief and should be pursued, not only for our own personal benefit but also for the welfare of our family and loved ones.