My father passed away so many years ago that he seems like a distant memory of a stranger, yet I see him in the eyes of my younger son, who bears a striking resemblance to my dad when he was a young man, photographed somewhere in Eastern Washington holding a bolt-action .22-caliber rifle that occupies a place of honor today in my modest little gun locker.
He was but 50 years old, just middle-aged by today’s standards, when his heart failed in 1972. He was in Asia during WWII and he never talked about it. My experience has invariably been that people who saw war up close and personal never talk about it. I’ve seen horrible things in my own life that I don’t talk about. How do you explain being able to function after being a witness to, or a participant in, things that should not be natural? You can’t really, so why bother trying?
What he talked about instead were things that became what made me. How to bait a hook. Breath control and sight alignment. Field dressing fish and game. Building a campfire. Not getting lost in the woods. Cleaning guns and treating them as though they are always loaded. Making sure there was plenty of firewood for the winter, stacked in a dry place (I had to learn running a chainsaw on my own.) Changing the oil in a car yourself, so you knew it was done right, and greasing U-joints and ball joints; he was a mechanic, and a good one.
He was hardly a rich fellow, not even upper middle class. He was strictly blue collar, and I hope he understood that being a working stiff is the noblest trade of all, not “even if” you get your hands dirty, but because your hands get dirty. Recent days have reminded us that arrogance, vanity, glamour and power do not amount to much when you “piss on people and tell them it is rain.”
Dads are important, and some of us only realize that after they are gone; those moments when we are confronted by self-doubt or an individual challenge, or the responsibility of passing on the right lessons to our own sons. Those moments haunt some of us our entire lives, when we stop in mid-stream or mid-sentence and wonder, “What would dad do?”
Mine never met his grandsons. That’s a pity because grandfathers often pass on important lessons, too, about patience and quiet; things dads are sometimes too busy to do because they are working so hard to make life a little better than they had it. My grandfather was the toughest man I ever knew, tougher than my dad, certainly tougher than me. He outlived my dad, and that had to be the toughest moment of his life.
We tend not to remember those times when dad lost his temper, and we dislike ourselves when we do it and we hope our sons don’t pick up the habit.
What we remember most of all is that we had time together, though not enough of it; time around a campfire, or underneath a car; time watching a fly drift through a riffle and down into a deep hole where you know that big one is hiding; time sitting on a deer stand together watching the sunrise trying to creep through that crack between the far ridgeline and that hovering bank of clouds.
All those times when perhaps not a word is spoken, but messages are sent in a wink or a nod or a smile.
They call it “Father’s Day,” but it really isn’t just that. It should be called “Fathers and Sons day.” And even though we know such days are limited, there really ought to be more of them.
Don’t waste this one.
PLEASE FORWARD the link to this column and share with all of your chat lists and forums
PLEASE SUBSCRIBE by clicking on the link above
And Don’t forget to visit:
VISIT THESE GUN RIGHTS EXAMINERS ON-LINE:
Atlanta Ed Stone | Austin Howard Nemerov | Boston Ron Bokleman | Charlotte Paul Valone | Cheyenne Anthony Bouchard | Chicago Don Gwinn | Cleveland Daniel White | DC Mike Stollenwerk | Denver Dan Bidstrup | Des Moines Sean McClanahan |Detroit Rob Reed | Fort Smith Steve D. Jones | Knoxville Liston Matthews | Los Angeles John Longenecker | Minneapolis John Pierce | National Dan | Seattle Dave Workman | St. Louis Kurt Hofmann | Tucson Chris Woodard | Oakland Yih-Chau Chang
SECOND AMENDMENT FOUNDATION
‘Winning Firearms Freedom One Lawsuit at a Time’
CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS
America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age
These Dogs Don’t Hunt: The Democrats’ War on Guns
Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns
Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities