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By John Mauer

To say that my father and I aren’t close is like saying that RF and Diane Feinstein have a difference of opinion on matters of constitutionality.  Divorced when I was three, my parents lived on opposite sides of the state. With my mother having primary custody, visits were limited to weekends, some holidays, and scattered special occasions.  Asymptotically these visits became less frequent, replaced by even more intermittent phone calls, mailed gifts, and other detached well wishes. By the time I was nine it was more on the scale of once or twice a year, with the final recorded visit at age twelve when I was gravely ill.

In my formative years I was fortunate to have great influences on building my own character and constitution. My mother and step-father were encouraging when it came to guns and ownership, buying me my first rifle at thirteen. My best friend’s father took me under his wing as an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and curator of an impressive personal collection of historical firearms. I was able to grow up learning about the value of a gun both on a personal and national level.

I am especially thankful because all of this happened in the state of New York. I’m an upstater, which has a strong influence on the more pervasive views towards guns that I experienced in my childhood. Had I grown up in Chicagoland, Kalifornia or *shudder* NYC, I imagine that my experience could have been substantially different. Instead I am a proudly active CCW licensee (don’t get me started on that process) and have a small but important collection of my own long guns and pistols.

As I became a father myself in the last several years, I began to wonder about my own father and his lot in life. At the time of the birth of my son, we hadn’t spoken in nearly sixteen years. I was never close with his extended family and never had a solid lead on what had become of him.  After extensive Google-Fu and with the help of a private investigator I found he was living in the same area where I was born, but was still unable to find a good number by which I could contact him. Emboldened with a lead, I decided to take the plunge and make the three hour journey to try to find the man in the flesh.

To say I was nervous would be the second great understatement of this story. Most of the time when you haven’t seen someone for the better part of two decades it’s for a good reason. After all, who doesn’t reach out to their son in the least? What would he say or do if I did find him?

I arrived at his house finding myself barely able to make the walk up the front steps to knock on the door. When the door opened I saw a much older, bearded, balding mirror image of myself. The two of us could have been knocked over with a feather. After a handshake that made me feel like a cold call vacuum salesman, I was invited in and we sat in the living room.

As you can imagine, conversation was difficult at best. There were the perfunctory topics like work and family, more of a listing of resume items than anything else. When it was his turn he told ten seconds to outline his life in retirement and then started talking about his golf game. His. Golf. Game.

I thought right then and there I had my answer. This guy is a dick. I’m trying to reconnect after a huge amount of time, bring pictures of the grandson he’s never seen, and all he can talk about is golf. Shame on me, I expected too much.

To my surprise he asked if I wanted to take a ride around town and see what his life is like. Having gone all that way, I figured there was nothing else to lose. If anything, it would solidify my resolve to keep my distance and write this part of my life off.

As we reached his truck I noticed that he had not one but two NRA life member stickers on his windows. I hopped in and we started driving. He pointed out the various sights of town—the college, favorite diner, the place where he himself went to high school. More of the same resume talk.

Things changed though, when we passed by the closed Air Force base.  He casually mentioned that he was there the other week for a SAFE Act protest, and turned to me and said “Fucking Cuomo, huh?” With that remark and in that moment the conversation turned. We started to talk about the unconstitutional and downright dastardly way that the SAFE Act was passed, about infringements on basic liberties and rights. We started to talk about his work in advocacy efforts and what we can do as citizens of the state to protect what is rightfully ours.

Suddenly, we weren’t just two strangers feeling each other out delivering curricula vitae through an interview. We had something in common, something basic and core to each of our persons. We talked about guns and rights for the rest of the ride, nearly an hour.

When we got back to his house he felt comfortable enough to show me the LCP he uses as an EDC. I wish I could describe the pride I saw in his eyes when I reciprocated and presented the Glock 26 that I had IWB the entire time. I think it’s best described as a simultaneous joy to find a kindred spirit and relief that that spirit is his son.

We were able to then break down barriers. We had an honest, good and long talk about what had led to the distance between us and the break in communications. Hearing the other side of the story, Kramer vs. Kramer seems like a simple mediation (something I was able to corroborate after).  We talked about guilt and heartache and I extended sorely needed forgiveness for what transpired.

We’ve subsequently had several more meetings. He has been able to meet my wife and son and we’ve been able to talk on the phone with some frequency. I think often about how fateful the decision was to hop in the truck and go for a ride.

More importantly though, I think about the power that our fundamental rights have as a means to connect us all. I firmly believe that deep inside of every citizen lies a desire to be free and to protect ourselves and our loved ones in ways that WE see fit. And in this case I think about the LCP that my father showed me that bridged the divide between strangers talking about golf and let me meet and connect with my father.


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  1. Great story!

    I will be reconnecting with some family I haven’t seen in 34 years, over the Christmas break. I hope it goes as well as it did for you.

  2. Wow! Best article in TTAG of 2013, maybe ever. I find myself sharing your joy at reconnecting with your long-estranged father. Thanks for sharing that on Thanksgiving.

    And 50 bonus points for using “asymptotically” and “curator”! 🙂

    Well done indeed.

  3. Wow.

    As a son whose father taught him to shoot, as a father of two boys, and as a fellow upstate NY’er… Winner.

    • Yeah, anything would be anticlimactic. That one still has me blown away. Send him the prize TODAY.

  4. This story probably edges out the story about USMC (Ret.) Gunny Sgt. Lee Smith – by a hair; well…maybe two hairs.

  5. Awesome (re)connect story.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all. We who are fortunate enough to live in America are truly blessed.

    • It’s becoming less fortunate every passing year. Tomorrow, I’m gonna party like it’s the last Thanksgiving. I hope it isn’t.

  6. I looked up asymptotically in three different dictionaries. I still don’t know what it means and I still can’t say it. Great story though.

    • I sorta know what it means, but it’s the first time, to my knowledge, that I’ve ever seen it used in an actual sentence. And I feel enriched to simply have read it; it’s that kind of word.

    • ass sim tot ick lee. Say it fast.

      It is a math term. When you graph a function, and the line gets closer and closer to zero, the larger the value of x, then the function is asymptotic. An example asymptotic function is “y = 1/x”
      1 divided by (a million 9’s) is an extremely small number that is extremely close to zero, but it still is not equal to zero.

      The point is that if the anti’s keep taking away small pieces of our 2A rights, eventually what remains will be so close to nothing that it will look like nothing.

  7. As someone who hasn’t spoken to his father in roughly 6 years, with a very similar set of circumstances as described here…. this hit way too close to home.

  8. Heart warming story. It made me realize how fortunate I am to gave a good relationship to my father.

    Definitely a winner, guys. Definitely a winner.

  9. Good read. Throughout the weird sixties guns were the ONLY thing that kept communication open between my father and me. My friends couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the concept of an armed hippie. Dad got it though: “boy, you gonna’ walk around lookin’ like that, you BETTER be able to back it up!”.

    Thank the stars, we both mellowed and met in the middle while we still had some years together.

  10. Holy shit, that’s a win. Damn what a great story. Hits home too.

    My father raised my in upstate NY as an anti gunner, I was never even allowed to look at BB guns. The boyfriend of my mother’s friend was an avid shooter and he would take me out occasionally to teach his son and I gun safety and how to shoot; my father never knew about these lessons, he would have shut them down quick. I never forgot those lessons and to this day remember shooting cans on the Erie canal and repeating over and over, “watch your muzzle”.

    After college I left NY (and moved to Texas, yay!) and started my own firearms collection, along the way I became a strong 2A supporter. This past year my father announced he was giving up his golf game of 40+ years. He came to visit, we went to the shooting range for the first time and after shooting my Ruger 10/22 at clays he announced that it was a hoot, I had to pry the rifle from his hands when it was time to leave. He announced on the spot that he wants to buy a .22lr pistol. That was the highlight of my year.

  11. It’s interesting how a common theme can bring people together. I am blessed to have parents who stayed together and a dad and grandpa who taught me to shoot when I was old enough to pick up a rifle. The day I went home after Iraq my dad and I were at the range shooting with a new pistol. Great memories.

  12. This very well-written piece just goes to show the power of appealing to emotions. In fact, both writing contests have shown the power that a well-crafted emotional story can have for our side of this debate. Very few posters jump on the comment board and argue that a submission discussing legal nuances or crime statistics should win. A good story which touches our crusty, gun-owner hearts and causes us to complain about the amount dust in the air, those win. We need to remember that when it comes to trying to bring people over to our way of thinking of the Second Amendment. And, I am darn glad that this writer is on our side and not working for Bloomberg. He deserves an FN, even if he’ll have to dig up a 7-round mag for it.

  13. Wow that was a really good story. Thanks for sharing that with us. Probably makes us all re-examine our own paternal relationships a bit, as it did with me.

  14. Hello all,

    Thank you so very much for the kind comments. I’m just glad I’ve had a chance to share my recent journey with the AI.

  15. This is a terrific story, and deserving of the win. Thanks for making my Friday so much the better for having read this.

  16. Dan, I could truly relate to your story. I didn’t see my dad from the age of 6 until I was in my mid 20’s and really didn’t start to build a relationship with him until I was in my 30’s. I was in my 40s when we finally went together to see a baseball game. We have shot together, and he has tried to teach me how to shoot trap. He has shot at the Grand American Trap shoot several times back when it was still in Ohio. And I have coached him at handgun shooting. All good stuff! Glad that you and your dad have gotten together. Like you, I was the one that reached out to him, and I had the same butterflies in my stomach when arriving at his house. I hope you and your dad can continue to enjoy many years to enjoy each other as a family.

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