As a child I had no interest in guns. I knew my father had some. I knew where he kept them. But strangely enough, I didn't have that insatiable curiosity that most children have, so I never covertly snuck into the bedroom to rummage through the closet to find the forbidden treasure. My father's firearms held no significance to me and ultimately I ended up regretting that.
But regret is a less than productive emotion. It bogs you down and keeps you from moving forward. So instead of embracing regret, I decided to embrace what my father enjoyed...things that go bang.
The story begins with this gun and this man. The man is my father and the gun is a 1942 Luger (all matching numbers).
Imagine two people in the early years of their marriage. The time is somewhere in the late 1950s. They have a young son and not too much to live on. Life is not bad...but there are struggles. The husband goes to work as a lab technician and the wife stays home with the infant. Household income is approximately $50.00 per week.
The husband works hard and asks for little. But there is one thing he wants. He has his eye on a gun...a very special gun. It is a 1942 German Luger with all matching numbers. It is truly a work of art. The cost is also half of his weekly wage and completely unattainable. If nothing else, he is a practical man and $25 buys a lot of food and pays a lot of bills. He will put his dream aside for his family.
The wife, knowing how desperately her husband wants this gun, and how deserving he is, decides come hell or high water he will have it. And somehow she finds a way. She presents him with his dream....the Luger becomes his. For half his weekly wage, he now possesses the firearm he only once dreamed of owning.
Fast forward 20 years. The same man and woman now have three children...two boys and one girl (she is the youngest). The Luger and a 45 ACP are stored in the bedroom closet. The young sons, who are teenagers and extremly inquisitive, have shown their father's precious possessions to friends of less than upstanding character. It isn't long before the firearms come up missing. The man is devastated.
Fortunately, teenagers generally talk too much and word on the street gets around quickly. The scumbag who has the Luger in his possession is found rather quickly and it is returned sans a magazine. Unfortunately, the 45 ACP never does reappear.
Fast forward to 1994, the man is sick...very sick. He is not going to live. Still the daughter has no interest in the things he has that go bang. There is one son living...he will take possession of all (and there are many) of the items that require gun powder to function...not all were firearms. The man liked things that went BOOM.
All was quiet until 1997...then the son died and the daughter was faced with an extraordinary dilemma. There were guns...OMG were there guns. There were long guns and short guns and semi-automatic guns and revolvers and black powder guns, for you see not only did the father like things that went 'bang' but the son did as well. And guess what else there was....there was the Luger.
So the daughter brought the plethora of firearms home. She sold all but one of them (yes, I am kicking myself now). She kept the Luger. She kept it because she could not part with the legacy that was her father. The story that was her mother. The love that surrounded the chunk of metal that meant so much to the two of them...both gone.
It went back to the shelf in the closet it had laid upon for so many years (I live in the same house I was raised in) and it slept there for several years. One day I heard it call to me...a firearm does no good unused...serves no purpose unfired...protects no one without bullets through its barrel. I could no longer render it useless...my father would not approve. I needed to honor him. I needed to learn to shoot and I needed to learn to do so with HIS gun.
The Luger proved to be an accurate firearm for a first time shooter...it did not let me down. My groups were admirable at 20 feet and bought me praise from my instructor. I wonder to this day if my father was helping me place those shots on the paper, as I continue to think it was too easy. And while my father's prized firearm did me proud...that was the first and only time I have shot it. Confession...I didn't like it! The Luger's personality and mine does not mix...it bites!
It was cathartic. It was emotional. It was exciting. It was sad. It was fulfilling and then it was empty. I missed my dad. It should have been him standing behind me praising my every shot. Why is it that so often we find things out after it is too late?
I guess this is where that old cliche' fits in nicely: "better late than never." And I am so glad I arrived at this party late instead of never. For I have learned so much. I have not only learned that the gun is the 'ultimate equalizer' but I have learned that regret can be turned into joy.