Monday, June 6th
Nothing of great significance occurred in history on Monday, June 6, 2005. Anne Bancroft died. The cleanup of the longest oil/natural gas explosion in history in Crosby, Texas the prior week was on-going. The Supreme Court voted down the legalization of marijuana that day in Federal Court. The American public commemorated the one-year anniversary of the death of Ronald Reagan the day before.
It was nice weather, not too hot. Richard and Paulette had taken their bikes out for the first time that Saturday, the 4th of June. The newly purchased home on Lovitt Drive was the first home they had bought together as a couple. All their homes prior had been parishes provided courtesy of their church. Paulette looked forward to relaxed afternoons riding through the canopied and low-trafficked roads in the neighborhood. She had plans to landscape her yard with flowers and small shrubs. Over the holidays, Paulette had set up each room of the home to welcome and entertain guests. Her health improved since returning to Memphis, gave her a sense of vitality and a longing for independence.
Making a House a Home
The dining room was set, ready for guests to be served. The living room held antique family artifacts around two love-seats staged across from her piano waiting to bring music into their home once more. Dozens of different styled and sized nutcracker statues adorned the den, the fireplace, and the mantel. Photo albums abundant lined the bookshelf waiting to be shared.
Richard had taken on a role as associate pastor at Bellevue Baptist, a sizeable church in Cordova, Tennessee just outside of Memphis. His new position with a congregation so large was no less demanding than that of head pastor at the parish in Griffith. But now, the couple lived six minutes and .09 miles from their daughter, Kelley, who rented a townhome in an adjacent neighborhood. Paulette had family in Memphis still. Her in-laws were there, and more importantly, her mother, Elizabeth Ferguson, and her sister Janice.
Six Minutes from Home
On that fateful day, in June, Paulette decided she would take her bike to her daughter’s home to do some light housekeeping for Kelley. Kelley, now 36, worked for another church and was expecting her cousin Leslie from Florida to visit the following weekend. As always, her mother graciously offered to help by cleaning for her. Though the drive was negligible, both Richard and Kelley had offered to let Paulette take their car, but the weather was so inviting. Paulette could not be swayed from taking a ride, feeling the cool breeze on her face and in her hair, the warmth of the sun on her pale freckled skin.
The streets in Midtown are mostly narrow and old. Inclement winters leave roads rough, potholes are patched and unstable. Choosing the sidewalk for her bike path, Paulette set off towards Kelley’s townhome on Hinton Place off Yorkshire Drive. One can never know what Paulette might have been thinking as she took a leisurely trek that late spring day. We might conclude that she was looking out and about her; however, taking in the scenery, passerby, nonchalantly looking up at the sky. Perhaps she was daydreaming.
Along the way, she passed in front of a privately owned convenience store near the intersection of Quince Road and Yorkshire Drive. A left turn there would take her to Kelley’s house. Like the road, the sidewalk was old, cracked, and in one section completely marbled into crushed rock and gravel. As Paulette’s front bike crossed this segment, her wheel slipped, tilting her forward, and gravity threw Paulette ungraciously across and over the handlebars onto the cement below.
First to hit was the right side of her head, just over her ear, then her shoulder, hip, and finally her lower leg. Immediately she became unconscious, and everything in her world was forever transformed. She would never take that left turn, she would never make it to Kelley’s again.
The next 60 days of Paulette’s existence would define her future and that of her loyal husband and daughter as never before. The woman whose life had revolved around her family, their church, and their friends and loved ones would now become unwittingly the apex of their attention. And God’s will would forever determine love’s new calling for Richard Kilpatrick.