Thursday, March 18, 2010

men, sports, guns...and why they matter to me

To my favorite men...

For all of the times that I have wondered what good it would do me to sit and listen for hours (and hours) on end about sports and guns, to go shooting, carry a pistol, and the like - I guess the past couple of days have taught me a few lessons....that sometimes we don't listen and learn and do because it is of immediate interest to us...but because it helps us to share and be involved in the lives of be companions and friends....and to bring joy.

If it weren't for Tony Dungy or my friend Randy, I don't think I'd have gone to so many football games....and yet, that has brought my little boys so much joy and has been a catalyst for some great family time and bonding with my own husband. Plus, somewhere in there, I learned that I actually like to watch football (and might actually enjoy playing if it weren't for the fear of being crushed and broken by hundreds of pounds of sweaty men.)

I also would never have thought twice about setting up a bracket for the NCAA Tournament challenge, but it seemed like a fun thing to do with friends, so when Randy suggested it, I thought "why not?" Yet, two days later, I was able to join a group to encourage a little boy struggling with cancer who finds great joy in this yearly challenge. I wouldn't have even understood the invitation or reference had I not spent a few minutes the day before taking the time to figure it all out.

Today, yet again - I was blessed by my hours of "gun exposure". I took the children over to visit Mr. Harold, Grandma Marion's friend who lives in a rest home down the street. He is one of the most content and happy old men I have known....sitting in his chair and smiling, always cooperating with the caregivers, never complaining about his lot in life. A life-long bachelor who gets visits from his nieces and nephews as they can fit it into their busy lives, and faithfully by, of course, Grandma Marion. He frequently asks Grandma Marion about the children (Caleb, Emet, and Anna Ruth) and comments on how much they must be growing.

Mr. Harold rarely wears his hearing aids, so most often when we visit, he smiles contentedly and watches us interact for half hour or so before we take our leave to go home. You have to sit really close to him and practically yell to talk to him, and I never know quite what to discuss, save for the same topics I politely bring up each time....his love for Cocker Spaniels, the weather, and how much the children have grown. Today, however, I glanced over at his table and saw a Guns and Ammo magazine with Reuger's latest compact carry pistol, the SR9c. As it appeared to be very similar to mine, I reached over for the magazine and flipped to the article. I saw Harold's gaze follow my actions, so I commented that I had a similar pistol that I took with me when I went running. It brings a smile to my face to remember this moment. Harold's eyes lit up and he started asking me all sorts of questions about my gun. (And I'm very proud to say, I knew the answer to all of them....many thanks to the men in my life!) Bingo! I had found the key to Mr. Harold's heart. We must have spent an hour talking about all sorts of guns and manufacturers, bullet size, shotguns, and the like. He was VERY impressed when I told him I had shot a .44 magnum six-shooter. Oddly enough, his hearing didn't seem to be an issue.

He shared with me about how when he was a little boy, he loved guns (big surprise there) but he could never afford any. He told me how our current president didn't like guns! He mentioned how he had a shotgun that he had given to his nephew. Then, he got a little shy, and told me that if I would like, he could show me what his shotgun looked like. This brought a lump to my throat - which I of course shoved down, as I riffled through his dresser drawer looking for the brouchure he was having me find. Here this happy little old man wasn't so much different than my own husband, or the other men I love so much. He was a little boy at heart and was offering me his deepest treasure on a platter, asking for me to share his joy. Finally, I found it, the well worn brochure he had no doubt reviewed a thousand times before purchasing his long awaited shotgun nearly 2 years ago and 90 some odd years into his life. It was a Connecticut Shotgun RBL-28, 28 guage, side-by-side double barrel shotgun with beautiful walnut wood, elaborate metal work with a dog engraved on each side and a bird on the bottom. His eyes were full of tenderness as he showed me each feature with pride. It had cost him $3600 for the base model. Grandma Marion later told me she had listened to him talk about that gun for months before ordering it, then for months on end as he anticipated its arrival. Harold had given the gun to his nephew when he moved to the rest home and has never had a chance to shoot the very gun that he had wanted for so long. Yet, in typical Mr. Harold fashion, he mentioned it in a happy way - with no bitterness or frustration.

I told him that we could make it work for him to go shooting, even if he just sat in the car. He didn't seem to think he was strong enough to go on this type of outing but a sparkle remained in his eyes. Maybe if the weather was good. Maybe in the Summer. He said that his nephew had shot the gun and it didn't have much kickback. (According to Grandma Marion, this was one of the things he was worried about...perhaps breaking a bone or something.) He said his nephew told him he would take him, but it hadn't worked out yet. I wonder if this is one of those "maybe someday promises" or if Mr. Harold just didn't believe in himself enough to go. Grandma Marion also mentioned that he really would like to drive by his old home again, which isn't too far from here. However, she is too afraid to try to lift him into and out of the car.

I guess the reason I want these things for him so badly, is that today I was reminded, once again, that God is our Father - one and all. Harold is his child, his little boy, just as my sons are my children, my little boys. Harold has hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. His time is just a little shorter, his circumstance more frail. Yet, inside that contented, wrinkled old man that sits happily in his room day after day, month after month, complaining of nothing, is a man as whole and alive as you.....the men I love most.

So - thanks, guys - thanks for the countless hours of gun talk, for making me want a pistol, for inviting me to go to games and join in pools and brackets, for having me lift weights, for even assuming I would care to know. I do.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

By the way, in case you are interested....


No comments:

Post a Comment