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I grew up the third of three sons, starving for attention, determined to do anything to get it. As my mother couldn’t or wouldn’t give me the love and support I craved, I settled for conflict. Strangely, this mostly psychological warfare didn’t extend to politics.

I shared my mother’s liberal agenda. A crusade that included support for the Democratic Party, the Peace Movement, Planned Parenthood and Handgun Control Inc. Yup, the RI-based anti-gun rights organization that eventually merged with The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

I’ve told you how a mugging at knife-point set me on the road to small “c” conservatism. A journey that my mother never made. In fact, our household eventually divided into two camps. My mother and oldest brother remained die-hard libs, while my father, my older brother and I swung to the right.

Wisely enough, my father stopped talking politics with my Mother. My brothers became estranged (for several reasons), then reconciled with a similar “no politics” policy. And I continued my role as a sh*t stirrer, refusing to back away from, or shut up about, my belief in small government and self-reliance.

My self-imposed exile in the U.K. helped my relationship with my mother, limiting as it did our interaction. When I returned to the U.S., relocating near my parents to see them into their old age, there’d been a subtle shift. Simply put, time had robbed my mother of the energy to fight.

Not completely, of course. But by the time I started The Truth About Guns, she cared less about the topic than the website’s commercial success. Don’t get me wrong: she could no more abandon her support for gun control than I could abandon her. And she still needled me about other stuff. But our fighting days were over.

When my Dad died, my mother stayed in their house by the sea; an isolated pile, miles from a small town, patrolled by a single police car. One dark night, when my then nuclear family and I were leaving for the city, I stopped the car and went back into the house. I offered my mother my Smith & Wesson revolver for self-protection.

I knew she wouldn’t take it. I felt bad about offering it. But I had to give her the option, so I could live with myself if someone decided to rob her well-known art collection. Of course, she declined. It was never mentioned again. A year later, she sold the house, donated her art to museums and moved to an assisted living facility in Florida.

Mom’s 94 now. She can’t walk. Her world has shrunk to her apartment and communal areas. We talk occasionally. She still only asks about TTAG in terms of its ability to support my lifestyle. Mainly, I update her on my desultory love life and her fabulous granddaughters’ progress. I always end our stilted conversations by telling her I love her.

Despite everything, it’s true.

My mom had a rough life, losing her parents at an early age, leaving her native South Africa for service in post-war Europe and beyond. Despite her many accomplishments, she never found the confidence she lacked; the confidence she couldn’t give her youngest child.

Which leads me to a Mother’s Day message to those of you who have or had less-than-perfect mothers.

They did — and do — the best they can. We have to love them the best we can, even as we love and protect ourselves, our families and our friends. Whether or not your mother supports gun rights, make sure to arm yourself with both love and bullets. Anything less is not enough.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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  1. Gee I was’s 3rd child and her favorite. And we had guns in my home and a NRA sticker on the front door. Happy Mother’s Day in heaven mom!

  2. Wifey got her Breakfast In Bed as befitting her day. Mom got a visit from Wifey and self Friday evening with dinner provided. The dishes are started and the dogs are quiet and I’m off to get a tire patched – overall a pretty good Mother’s Day.
    Y’all have a good one too.

  3. Having lost both my parents I would change the “we talk occasionally” to we talk frequently or daily. There will be regret if you don’t start up a dialogue with her while you can.

  4. My mom would take me to the toy store and buy me toy guns; thank you Mom. That Mattel Winchester repeating rifle was the best of my toy gun collection, Mom. I remember slipping the fake rounds into the loading gate of that little plastic beauty. Just like the Winchesters the cowboys on TV and the movies had. Those were the days!

  5. mom is 88 and visiting her granddaughter in peru.
    she once told me not to worry about raising the kids, that as long as they knew that you cared, the rest would be ok.
    good thing, too.

  6. Good post, RF. Thank you.
    My mother is 91, can barely walk, but still mentally sharp. I wish I could express how much I love and appreciate her, but it is difficult for me. I think by now she understands that and how I feel even when I can’t find the words.

    BTW, I offered my mother the exact same (model) S&W 642 for her protection when I am away. In my case she accepted it with gratitude and keeps it close by her side. She may not actually hit some BG coming through the door, but she will damn sure scare the crap out of him!

    • Find a way to express yourself, Cliff. My mother passed at 49. And I still regret some of the unsaid things many years later.

  7. Cheers RF, a brief yet extremely meaningful introspective journey and celebration of your mother and all mothers. Thank you.

  8. RF, I am sure on multiple occasions you gave your mom the “our people have been crapped on because we were not armed” speech. What was her come back to that, if any?

  9. My mother always said I must have been switched in the hospital, because no one else in the family had guns or voted Republican.

  10. My parents are both in their 80’s and they travel more now than ever. I wonder if they have phone service on their current little hiking/photography trip. Ah, well, if not, there’s always voicemail.

  11. “They did — and do — the best they can.” Very true Robert, although it often takes some hard knocks and determined emotional growth that rid oneself of the childhood baggage before we can realize that imperfect people—perhaps carrying their own childhood emotional baggage—have done the best they can and have given you all they can give. Realizing that can be a saving grace in itself.

  12. My mother died on 4-13-17. She was 86 with Parkinson’s, could barely get around and steadfastly refused to go to a nursing home. I moved in with her so that she could die at home, which she did.

  13. Mom wasn’t exactly anti-gun, but rather more of what you might call a passive Fudd. She disparaged handguns as being good for nothing but killing another person. She was fine with long guns, though, because they doubled as hunting tools (which she grew up doing) and as self-defense weapons. Firearms and gun control were never a relevant election issue for her, either for or against.

    Dad, on the other hand, came home from three tours in Vietnam vowing never to own, use, or touch another gun or to have one in his house. It was just his personal lifestyle decision, though, and not a social cause. He still voted Republican and did not take an anti-gun stance in conversations on the topic, nor with regard to his sons owning firearms or serving in the military.

  14. PDW

    My sympathies

    My mother died from Parkinson’s four years ago but the lady who took me to toy shops then gun shops before I had a drivers license was long gone

    Still miss both my parents

  15. RF, one of the most candid & earnest things i’ve seen, and the most deeply authentic i’ve seen today. your mother is very fortunate. And so are you.

  16. Mom was never against guns but, always taught me,along with Dad to respect them and that they weren’t toys. I had plenty of toy guns growing up, and sat in front of the TV with my Thompson and Helmet watching “Combat”. I saved up money during the summer I was 14 for a hunting rifle, and Mom was all for it. Winchester .30-30 with octagon barrel and cool curved steal butt plate. Got for $68.00 which included swivels and a leather sling (had to because I was a small guy). Mom thought it was beautiful!! Unfortunately Mom passed quickly and unexpectedly in ’82. Luckily I was able to tell her how much I loved her before she slipped into a coma. Dad and my uncle both said she could outshoot them with a pistol any day. Wish I could have shot with her…Still miss, and talk to that wonderful woman each day.

  17. My mother and sister are both rabid anti-gun activists. I find that odd. My father was a career member of the armed forces. I made the military and law enforcement my calling. Mom’s father loved guns and taught my brother and me to properly handle firearms from age 10. Many of Mom’s uncles served in WW2 and hunted. Sis endured domestic violence until her husband was convicted of rape and attempted murder. She raised a son who has made the military his career and done very well considering the atmosphere of his early years. My kid brother was an anti-war activist, conscientious objector, and despised anyone who was not a liberal progressive Democrat… and yet loved to go to the range with his 1911, and taught martial arts. As it turned out, the sun, from sailing out of San Diego and elsewhere, took his life… not a gun.

    You’d think Mom would appreciate the value of firearms and what they have provided her family through the years. That she would appreciate that firearms had helped keep her oldest (me), her grandson, and her husband alive through WW2, Korea, Vietnam, and the present conflicts in the middle east. You would think my sister would think that way as well regarding her son, brother, and father. You might also think she would favor guns as a defense tool in cases of domestic violence.

    Whatever their reasons, there is no convincing them otherwise. It is so ingrained that they rarely speak to me or my father… and my nephew is faced with the same from his mother.

    Still, we love them and honor them on Mother’s Day for, without our Mothers, none of us would exist.

  18. My mother conspired against me 17 years ago and used my own future funds to have me kidnapped and locked up against my will. Rot in hell mom, you can’t leave this world soon enough. It’s easier to shower gifts on a more deserving mother anyway, my wife (she’s a fantastic mother to our child).

  19. Robert. I am touched.

    Very nice post. Thanks for bearing a bit of your soul.

    I think many of us have similar experiences.

    In my family, I mostly stand alone in politics.

    We all have guns for defense, though.

    Thanks again. Well written


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