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.