Last night, the conversation went kinda like this:
“Lisa, it’s your father.”
“Sorry to interrupt the game…”
[sigh] “It’s Monday night FOOTBALL.”
“[sigh] Give UP! You know I have no interest in sports, never have.”
“I have a question to ask you about your Christmas present.”
“Would you accept a gun as a gift from me, for self protection?”
“Um, no. No thank you.”
“It would be very safe, very small, you’d just need to load it and leave it in a drawer ---“
“Dad, no thank you. I know you’re being sweet in your own way, and you're concerned about my safety, but I don’t want a gun.”
“Are you SURE?”
“Yes Dad, I’m sure. But thank you. No.”
“Where’s that softball bat I gave you?”
“Under my bed.”
[gruffly] “Ok. Here’s your mother.”
And so goes the phone conversation I had with my Dad last night during Medium. It is important to note that my Dad rarely calls me, he usually just pipes in when I’m talking to my mom ☺. So I know he had given this a lot of thought. And as disturbed as I was at the thought of getting a GUN for Christmas (Peace, Love, Joy?), I really really appreciate him checking with me first. He knew what I would say, but he had to give it a try. I really don’t know what I would’ve done if I’d opened a gift and found a gun. It would have freaked me out, for sure. And there would have been drama. This way was much better.
My feelings about guns are complicated. I grew up in a house full of guns; my father was in the Army and also a hunter. I used to watch in fascination as he carefully cleaned his guns every weekend. From an early age I was taught to respect a gun and not to EVER touch one, with the understanding that “when I got old enough” he would take me to the shooting range and teach me how to shoot one. I knew he and my mother both had loaded pistols in their bedside tables, and I knew not to ever go in there. Well, by the time I was “old enough” to learn how to shoot, I had no interest, then I went off to college, then married another type of man who loved guns.
He loved hunting as my dad did, but mostly, he loved killing. Sure, he’d eat the meat, but his joy was in the kill. And I grew to hate it, hate hunting, hate guns, hate everything associated with the cruelty I associated with him. I grew to hate him for having that mean streak. My dad hunted for sport, and always either ate the meat or gave it away. He followed hunting seasons, got proper permits, etc, and was never purposefully cruel to an animal. My ex, on the other hand, shot anything that got in his path, just to see it die. I once watched him shoot a squirrel with a(n) (illegal) crossbow from his mother’s balcony. When the squirrel fell, still alive, to the porch below, I watched in numb horror from her kitchen as he took a hammer outside and beat it to death with a grin on his face from ear to ear. I saw the evil glint in his eye, and that smile, and for the first time, felt I had glimpsed his soul – and it was a scary, dark, awful place. While he beat the squirrel, I stood frozen in the kitchen, nauseous and horrified. I remember how sick I felt, and then I remember feeling the shiny engagement ring on my finger. I then remember consciously pushing that feeling away, with all my might, tucking it carefully beneath the numbness. I turned away and put it out of my mind. I did not even recall this event until years later, when I was in counseling after my divorce. I now think of it as the pivotal moment I saw my ex for who he really was, and the moment I made a choice, for whatever naïve reason, to marry him anyway. It took me a long time to reconcile what I had seen that day with the choice I had made. But that’s neither here nor there, now, is it?
Today I am just pondering why I have absolutely no interest in ever having a gun in my possession, under my roof. Just thinking about it brings back that sick feeling and all the sadness and disappointment I felt as I squashed down my feelings of horror that day. If this all sounds rather melodramatic to you, keep in mind that’s how I feel about it. I told it that way on purpose. Also keep in mind how serious I am when I tell you that if someday, I were to find out that my ex had committed some crime against a person? I would not be surprised. I would be sad, and numb, and nauseated. But not surprised.
So I have very personal reasons for why I’d rather have bubble bath than a gun for Christmas. But thanks for checking…