~May Ellen Morris/Caywood~
The final chapter of Ellen's life.........
First I need to tell those who have not read my book, "Suddenly It's Forever", that my mother had left my dad and lived with my husband and I for over a year (in California). She then thought it was safe to go back home - where she was born and raised (Fort Worth, Texas). She had been working at this cafe for about three months when my dad, James, killed her.
At work (where she was a waitress) it was apparent to everyone that Ellen was nervous. She even spilled coffee on the table of a young truck driver she was serving.
"One of those nights," Ellen apologized.
"Yeah," he laughed, "I know what you mean."
"What time is it, Ellen?" Trudy, the night cook, asked when Ellen turned in an order.
"It's ten-thirty," Ellen told her, "And, I'll sure be glad when this night is over."
"Listen, Ellen, if you're afraid that James will come in here giving you trouble, you can leave early. We're not going to be busy tonight. I can handle it alone."
"Thanks, Trudy, but I'll be fine. I can't keep running from James every time I think he's going to be angry about something. Besides, if he does come in here, he won't do anything to me in front of witnesses."
In spite of her brave front, Ellen was tempted to take Trudy up on her offer to leave early. But it was nearing closing time, and since James hadn't come in, she began to think he wouldn't show up at all.
As she was serving the truck driver his food, a young couple came into the restaurant. Donald and Janice were regular customers and had often witnessed James harassing Ellen. They sat at a table near the entrance and Donald sat with his back to the door. He turned his chair around and straddled it, resting his arms on the back.
Donald glanced at Ellen and thought she looked nervous. He remembered the time when James had told Ellen he was going to shoot her through the front window of the café. Donald had suggested that Ellen put up drapes, and he had helped put them up. Ellen felt better after the drapes were up, but she was still uneasy about walking past the covered window after dark. Donald shrugged off the feeling that he should volunteer to step outside and make sure James wasn't around. After all, James had made so many threats that he hadn't carried out.
Ellen took Donald and Janice's drinks to them and noticed that Janice was wearing a maternity dress. They told her they were expecting a baby in April. Watching them smile, and talk with each other, brought back memories to Ellen of when she and James were expecting their first baby.
"Donald and Janice are such a sweet looking couple," Ellen remarked as she handed in their order to Trudy.
"They sure are," Trudy heartily agreed.
"Donald is only nineteen," Ellen added as she turned to leave the kitchen. "And, if my Donald Paul had lived he would have been thirty-one years old. Ah, well, death must come to everyone."
"You're sure being morbid tonight," Trudy replied as Ellen left.
Ellen walked back to the front of the café and noticed how attentive Donald was being with Janice. She thought of how thrilled James had been when he found out she was carrying their first baby. She remembered his pride in his first daughter's birth and his buying the candy for the nurses. She wondered how such sweet love could turn so sour.
Just then, James opened the front door; jolting Ellen back to reality. A ripple of fear ran through Ellen as she watched him walk in. Donald gave James a quick glance, then turned toward Ellen with a look that seemed to say, "Here we go again".
"I was served divorce papers today," James informed her in a shaky voice as he sat down at the counter.
"James, we need to talk about this somewhere else."
"Are you sure this is what you want?" his eyes seemed to stare through her and into a personal hell.
"Let's not discuss this here. Go on home. I’ll call you tomorrow."
"You've got another man, haven't you? That's why you want the divorce, isn't it?"
"James, no matter what I say, you've already convinced yourself of what you want to believe."
"I'm going to kill you," he quietly stated as if her were telling her about the weather.
"We both know you're not going to kill anyone," Ellen tried to reason with him. "Besides, this isn't the place to talk about our problems. Go home. Let's discuss this in the morning."
"Tell me, Ellen," his eyes were flashing, as he pointed toward the young truck driver. "Is that one of your lovers?"
"You're not listening to me, James," she looked at the truck driver and laughed. "I'm old enough to be his mother. But, you go ahead and believe what you want. Only please leave!"
"I'll go, but I'll be back later. And, I'm going to kill you and your lovers," he spewed the words out as he stood up, whirled around, and walked away.
"I know who your boyfriend is," he shouted as he opened the door to leave. "And, I'm going to splatter his brains. I'll get everyone who has helped you play your little cheating games."
James slammed the door shut and Ellen walked to the window to peek out. She watched as he got into his car, started the engine, and turned the headlights on.
"Good," Ellen whispered to herself, "he's leaving."
She closed the curtain and walked away. Suddenly, a dread of something unknown filled her heart.
"Donald," Ellen called his name out. She started to tell him to go take a look to make sure James was really gone.
Donald turned at the sound of his name and saw that Ellen's face was white with fear.
"What?" Donald asked, in answer to her calling his name. He gave her a smile of encouragement.
Ellen shook her head at Donald, and was trying to control her fear when the door was thrown open. James quickly stepped inside, pulled his rifle up and aimed it at Ellen.
"He's really going to shoot me!" Ellen uttered in horror, as she looked for a place to hide.
She ducked behind the counter and ran, bent over, as fast as she could toward the end. Shivers of fear ran up her spine as she imagined James shooting her in the back. Ellen wondered why everything appeared to be in slow motion. She felt as if she had been running forever, but the end of the counter still seemed so far away. As Ellen grabbed the edge of the counter to help pull herself around the end, she glanced back and saw James. He had stepped behind the counter and was aiming the rifle right at her. She felt her body shudder as something hard hit her.
"Oh, my God!" She screamed, and the shot echoed in her ears.
Ellen leaped forward, still trying to get away from certain death. The hot, searing pain only lasted a few seconds. She saw her daddy falling, then suddenly, it was forever, as Jesus lifted her up.
(I need to insert here, for those of you who have not read the book I wrote about my mother, that Ellen's daddy was shot to death in front of her when she was five years old. She never got over the horror of it.)
Donald and the truck driver reached James at the same time. They wrestled him to the floor and took away the gun. When they stood him up, he looked toward Ellen's lifeless form.
"Good riddance!" he spat out. He glared at her bleeding body through eyes full of malice and the very depths of hell.
Days later, Dorothy stood over Ellen's grave and asked Doran a heart-wrenching question.
"Doran, what happens to you, after you die?"
"I don't know, for sure," he spoke softly.
They stood silent as Dorothy recalled the time her and her mother had hitched a ride home from her grandparents. The boy who gave them a ride was a Christian and he had witnessed to them. He had said that sometimes only tragedy will bring someone to God.
When Doran gently placed his hand on Dorothy's shoulder it brought her out of her recollections.
"I need to find out," she moaned as Doran pulled her close. She buried her head in the comfort of his chest and cried.
"Then we will find out," Doran quietly assured her, as his protective arms tightened around her.
May Ellen Morris/Caywood:
- Murdered -
Nov. 10, 1967
11:05, Friday night.
Vale! 'Sit Tibi Terra Levis
(Farewell' Light lie the earth upon thee).
James Caywood was indicted for murder by the Grand Jury of Parker County, Texas. The indictment stated that James did voluntarily, and with malice aforethought, kill May Ellen Caywood, by shooting her with a gun.
The court appointed James a psychiatrist to examine him and testify as to his present sanity and his competency to stand trial. The diagnosis was "psychosis due to arteriosclerotic brain disease in a paranoid personality". James was then committed to Rusk State Mental Hospital at Rusk, Texas, to be confined until he was judged sane. He was granted a furlough from Rusk in 1971, to Parker County District Court to again determine his sanity. Rusk State Hospital certified James to be sane, and the members of the jury of the Forty-third Judicial District Court found him to be sane. James was discharged and a bail bond was set and furnished. On the twelfth day of July, 1973, the District Attorney, Alex Tandy, requested the court to dismiss the charges against James. Judge Harry Hopkins then dismissed the case.
For some, like Ellen, there will never be justice in this life. Justice will come though, true justice, by way of God Himself.
On public record in Weatherford, Texas, is a letter from the court-appointed psychiatrist. In part it reads: "There appears to be ample evidence that this man has always been impulsive, somewhat unstable, with a quick temper and a tendency to be suspicious and belligerent, he shows no remorse for his actions and he does not feel any personal responsibility for it. The numerous acts which this man recounts and believes his wife did are beyond the realm of credibility, and at least part of these beliefs constitutes a "delusion", that is. A false idea to which a person clings to in spite of the evidence to the contrary. A delusion does not necessarily mean insanity, but in this case, the network of ideas are so elaborate that it impairs his ability to reason sanely."
Christ died for all men, even James. Christ died for all women, even Ellen. Christ died and lives, that all may freely receive His blessed hope of redemption.
All of Ellen's younger children, Dorothy, Patsy, Peggy, and Skip, became Christians. And one by one, they each forgave their dad for the grievous atrocity he committed. When Dorothy forgave him, she sent her mother's Bible to him at Rusk. She never found out how he accepted it, or if he was ever sorry for his sins.
James died from a heart attack in the summer of 1977. Doran and Dorothy were living in Tehran, Iran. His death enabled them to get an emergency visa for their adopted Iranian daughter, Soraya. They were able to complete the adoption in the States. Had James died earlier, or even later than he did, Doran and Dorothy may not have been able to adopt Soraya (because of the trouble in Iran).
Gennieve, Carrie, Thelma, and Thelma's girls all became Christians. Kelly remarried and lives a quiet life in Irving, Texas.
Now, Ellen's story has been recounted, and perhaps everyone will understand if they think I told her story from a prejudice viewpoint. I must add here that Ellen’s story hasn't ended, because her children and grandchildren are still living it. The ink of time has blotted out the severe pain of her tragic death. But. Time, flowing throughout eternity, can never erase the treasure of love she gave to each of her children and grandchildren.
Ellen wasn't a Christian mother. But, she taught by example some very important ethics that, as Christians, her children wish they were better at. Ellen never gossiped, never purposely hurt another's feelings, always saw the best in others and was generous to everyone. Ellen's defense of James to her children, was hard to understand. But he was her children's father, and she wanted them to forgive when he hurt her. She was the best friend her children ever had, although most of them didn't realize it, until it was too late.
Hopefully, whoever reads Ellen's story will realize how like quicksilver a precious life is. How tragic, to stand over a loved ones grave and not know where they will spend eternity. It doesn't matter how much tragedy one lives through, nor how good one is, without Jesus, all is in vain.