Reader Tony A. writes:
My father passed away this January 1. As is common with many sons and fathers, we had our share of conflicts. We loved each other, sure, but plenty of scar tissue was left on both sides. One thing we did do where there was no conflict was rabbit hunting. Dad had a gift for being able to sneak up on rabbits and put me in the perfect position for when they bolted. He was a beagle, pointer and retriever all in one . . .
Time passed, I grew up, and he grew old. Health issues finally took him on New Years. The last coherent conversation I had with him was at 3:00 a.m. at the hospital about a week before he died. For a few brief, wonderful minutes, he was there. Of all things, he started talking about hunting for rabbits. It was a gift to me, and I knew it.
A few weeks ago I was at my parents’ house, and Mom asked if I would please take Dad’s shotgun, as he would want me to have it. I didn’t even realize he still had one, let alone his old rabbit gun.
I now have two boys of my own, one is 16 and the other 11. We went into the bedroom and we took the case out of the closet. I pulled the Remington 1100 out of the case, checked the safety and held Dad’s gun for the first time in well over 30 years.
Looking at the boys I asked, “What’s the first thing you do with any gun you touch?” In unison they said, ‘Check to see if it’s loaded.” Proudly, I said, “That’s right!” and pulled back on the bolt handle. A shotgun shell launched from the receiver and flew in front of the boys, landing at their feet. I looked into the receiver and there was another shell waiting to be pushed into the breach. Mom said that the gun was loaded all those years, probably since the last time we hunted. Wow….
Seeing the look of shock on my boys’ faces from seeing the shell fly up and land on the floor made me realize that they understood how dangerous a loaded, unsecured firearm was, and that this was a lesson they would not soon forget. We discussed this, and the need for safely securing your guns, all the way back home.
Thinking about this incident a few days later, I realized that this may have been one of the greatest gifts Dad could have given me. Five months after his passing, and he just taught my boys a lesson in gun safety they should never forget.
Thanks Dad … I miss you.