For His Eighteenth Birthday – 5/16/05

Monday Poem, A Year and a Day

For His Eighteenth Birthday – 5/16/05

The barrel is warmed by my hand’s reverent grip,
rounded edges looking improbably soft.
Its walnut stock, marred here and there,
each scratch a story I can never know.

This is my Grandfather’s gun.
A long ago present from a father to his son.

A harsh gift, some would say, viewed through the lens of today’s world.
Yet a tender and well reasoned one for so long ago.

The hours it has spent hanging over his young shoulder.
The woodland glades it has crossed, reflecting the autumn sun.
The ducks and pheasants that have fallen to it,
and the dinners and sandwiches they later became.

I am told it is a good gun. A collector’s piece, now.
I am told of its value, but I know its real worth and I am rich to have it.

This is not my gun.

I am but its steward.

It will be kept clean and dry,
oiled and shining,
just as he kept it.

This is my Grandfather’s gun,
and always shall be.

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You’ll shoot your eye out kid!

My folks were very good to me and as an only child, I had the chance to do things that most kids never did. I traveled, I got a lot of one on one attention and I because I was a good kid and rarely got into mischief, I was often left on my own recognizance and thus, got to make a lot of decisions for my self. I was used to being given a lot of slack, because I pretty much never abused it.

There was one area that was not up for debate though, particularly with my mother. No guns. I didn’t have any toy guns for most of my early years and my folks wouldn’t get me any. This was back in the day when parents actually controlled what their kids had for possessions. If I had any money of my own, it was in my little savings book or in my piggy bank and, for all I knew, might as well not exist at all. Kids, little kids anyway, simply did not have money to buy toys on there own. If a “big kid” had some money that he or she had made raking lawns or washing cars or some such thing, anything purchased with that money had to be cleared by the parentals first. It seemed that there were very, very few exceptions to this.

So… back to guns. No guns in the toy box for me meant one thing and one thing only. Everything was a gun. Now, I’m not a violent person and was really not an aggressive kid at all. If anything, I over empathized with situations, people and what ever. When something got hurt, be it animate or inanimate, it really bothered me, still does in fact. I was no cry baby, but I was the kid rescuing the toad from the jerks with the sticks and fire crackers. I didn’t do “mean”. This made my fascination with guns all the more perplexing to my Mom, but there it was. A stick in the yard would be made into a gun. A yardstick held up to a shoulder would become a rifle and failing having something to make a gun out of, fingers and thumbs would be transformed into six shooters. BANG!

The breaking point for Mom was the day I bent a coat hanger in the approximate shape of an pistol, used an entire roll of masking tape to cover it and then used black shoe polish to make it the right color. That was the day I finally got to have toy guns. The savings in masking tape alone would make it worth while. So, I got to have the toy guns but my eyes soon fixed on a new passion. Something more then just pointing a plastic toy and yelling “Bang”..

I wanted a BB gun.

More later…

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