I think we all have had a gun that got away. If its not a gun, the it's a guitar, or a car, or whatever it was that was our passion.
I grew up in New Jersey, I moved up to New England as a young teen and was pretty much not raised around guns. I never held one, My Dad's step sister was a sheriff in New Jersey, that was about as close as I got to a gun.
I moved to maine and got married to an amazing Maine girl. My new brothers-in-law all spent a week "up to camp" each year. They always asked me to go, but I politely declined. About 2 years ago, it got into my mind to learn how to shoot a gun. My brother in law took me out to a dirt pit and taught me how to shoot with a .22. I moved up to a shotgun and then a proper rifle. I loved shotgunning and rifle-ry (is that a word?) and ended up buying my own guns, and all the accouterments that go along with shooting and hunting.
I loved to go to the range and shoot, and took my father-in-law one day. He was starting to get sick and had neuropathy (its a degenerative nerve condition that made his feet and eventually his hands loose feeling -- like his feet were asleep -- but pretty much all the time.) My father-in-law was a reserve police officer in his day. He was a sharpshooter and a sharpshooter with a pistol to boot. He was a rugged guy who loved the outdoors. Although he preferred to take a candy bar into the woods and have a nap instead of hunting, he loved to spend his week each year "up to camp" with his boys.
The next year he brought the Smith up to camp and did the exact same thing. Everyone wanted to shoot the gun, but he was happy to have his one shot in the bullseye and be done with it.
So jumping back, This was supposed to be my first year at camp, and we went to the range. My Father in law had been cooped up in the house and a trip to the range was just what he needed. We pulled up in my truck and I took out the guns and my range gear, I helped him with a walker get up to the range and we sat and shot the afternoon away…
It wasn't his best day, the huge 357 jumped around a lot, but he was in control of it, getting off some good shots and some not so good shots. We laughed, we teased each other. It was a nice day. Its not always what you do, but who you do it with.
My father in laws health had deteriorated over the next few months and going to camp with him was bittersweet. He slept a lot. My dog was sick and I had to go home early. He was waited on hand and foot by his sons and grandsons, and treated like King of the Camp. The signs were all there that for all intents and purposes, this would be his last trip to camp.
Since he couldn't shoot the 357, he sold it to a mutual friend. I was offered it, but I wasn't interested in handguns, or revolvers very much, so I passed. It was sold to a great guy. Everyone was happy.
About 3 months ago, I had a dream. I'm not a big dreamer, i can hardly remember any that I have. But in my dream, He and I were up at camp and we put one of the nutritional shakes he had to drink up on a stump, he pulled out that 357 and blew it to bits. I woke up knowing I had to get that gun back.
I called our mutual friend, and told him, "If you ever decide to sell that 357, let me know. I'd like to get it back". He said he hadn't even taken it out of the safe since he bought it. If I wanted it, it was mine.
Then he called me back.
"Its just so shiny and nice… I think I'll hold onto it."
Hey I completely understand it was a great gun. It had 2 shots put through it, and both were bullseyes. Inside I was a little crushed, but who wouldnt be.
"Well if you ever change your mind, let me know."
I went to the store and bought myself a nice single action 357 and figured if my father in law got healthy enough go and shoot, we would take this and that would be fine. After all, its not what you do, but who you do it with. The gun was a thing. Shooting together was what was important.
I found out that I like shooting handguns and I really like revolvers. I liked the 357 and it was a blast to shoot. I wasn't terrible and every shot I was getting better with the gun.
A month or so ago, I got a message. "I found a 1911 that I want, if you want the smith, let me know."
I was very happy to hear that to say the least. It took a bit of coordination, but I ended up with the Smith. I took it out of the case, and it was still like new. It felt great. I couldn't wait to take it to the range.
My father in laws health was still seriously declining. He wasn't able to get out of bed and it seemed like his shooting days were well over. I knew that there were two ways that we were going to shoot together, no way and no flipping way. I even went so far as to consider wheeling his bed next to a window and shooting a can out there, but that was really just a fantasy.
As you get older, the aches and the pains that people gripe about aren't the worst thing. Watching someone who was virile and powerful loose all of that before your eyes is the worst thing. I'm at the age where my friends and I are getting a glimpse at the mortality of our parents, our in-laws, our aunts and uncles. That change is weird to say the least. This gun in no way signified the life my father in law led. It isn't him. It wasn't the gun that my brothers in law equated with him. It was something that we used one day for a few hours. But sometimes those few hours make a lasting burning impression.
So I took the 357 to the range. I loaded up a bullet in the revolver, stepped up to the 25 yard line, and squeezed the trigger.
"Well. That works pretty good!"