I never really connected with my stepfather very well on a personal level. We’re simply too different in many ways. For instance:
He’s definitely a Republican, whereas I’m a libertarian who sympathizes with the Republican Party just very slightly more than with the Democratic Party (probably because Barry Goldwater, the most recent prominent Republican politician who wasn’t a complete asshole and wasn’t shunned by most of the party, is a lot more recent than Grover Cleveland, the most recent prominent Democrat politician who wasn’t a complete asshole and wasn’t shunned by most of the party). Note that saying I sympathize just slightly more with the Republican Party than the Democratic Party is equivalent to saying I feel just slightly less unendurable loathing for the Republican Party.
I’ve played RPGs for much of my life, and consider them an excellent means of developing linguistic skills, creative talents, and various areas of academic knowledge. Meanwhile, he always used to call D&D “playing dolls” (even though I never even used, or owned, miniatures for D&D until very recently).
He has, at various times, been a pretty avid fan of football, baseball, and NASCAR. In fact, he has worked for a pit crew. I, meanwhile, would be pretty hard-pressed to care less than I already do about those sports. I guess I enjoyed the NHRA event we attended a bit more, though.
Suffice to say that we essentially lived in different worlds. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t had an effect on my life, though.
I don’t know why he chose to teach me about the safe and effective handling of firearms; his motives in that regard are mostly opaque to me. I suspect part of the reason for it is that I’m his wife’s son, and he was trying to find some way to connect with me. He has no children of his own, so I guess I’m about as close as he got. In some respects, I wish he had felt more fulfilled in that regard with me being the placeholder for a son of his own — since I’m pretty sure he didn’t feel terribly fulfilled that way — and his attempts to be a sort of mentor and teacher where guns are concerned would probably have been a good way to do it. Unfortunately, our differences were enough that he might be surprised I turned into an adult who has handled firearms professionally and still has an interest in the things.
My current interest in firearms is, of course, significantly different from what I suspect he intended to pass on to me. While he has been known to keep a revolver near at hand when he sleeps (in a nightstand, decades ago — I have no idea whether he still does so now), it seems his interest is largely geared toward hunting and related areas. I, on the other hand, am far more focused on the defensive uses of firearms. Where he has been an NRA member for most of his life, my sympathies run more toward the goals of the RWVA and the JPFO. I find the policy of certain Colorado sheriffs to enter registrants for CCW permits in a state database extremely offensive, while simply mentioning the idea that I might get a CCW a while back prompted my stepfather to ask why the heck I felt a need for one (and I suspect if I mentioned the database issue, he’d probably be even more baffled at my complaint).
I guess you could say that my own attitude about gun control can be summed up with the common refrain:
With guns, we are citizens.
Without them, we are subjects.
Regardless of how well our respective attitudes on the subject match up, though, I owe him a debt of gratitude. I think I was about eight or nine years old when I first held a loaded firearm in my hands, and he was the man who put it there. Many years later, as an adult who had been around the world a bit and handled quite a few more firearms (many of which he probably has not handled, now that I think about it), he put another gun in my hands — one that I still have, and that I am glad to have.
I don’t know how my life would have unfolded without him in my life. I suppose it is possible I may never have fired a gun at all. If that is the case, it might be said that I’m a citizen because of his influence.
I received news earlier today, while I was far from home (still am as I write this) to visit my grandfather after my grandmother passed away: I was informed that my stepfather is scheduled for bypass surgery tomorrow. My thoughts are with him.
. . . and I hope the notion that these things come in threes is only superstition.
It turned out to be a quintuple bypass. It went well. I imagine there’ll be less cholesterol in his future, though that’s an uneducated guess on my part.