Monday, November 30, 2015

Yesterday my Father-in-Law became a data point

He was 85 years old, and he was in failing health, so he went on his own terms.

He laid down on his bed, and shot himself in the chest with one of his hunting guns.

He had been saying that everyone he had ever enjoyed spending time with or cared about was gone, and he ought to be, too, so he went sideways one day before his wife's birthday. She passed away in 1994, and he had been alone for a long time.

He joined the Marines to get out of Cainsville, won a sharpshooter award, and promptly got sent to Korea as a 19-year-old kid.

The things that he saw there haunted him all his life and he was still waking up screaming as recently as 10-years ago.

He was the reason we all, as a family, resigned our lifetime memberships in the NRA. He had been to war. He had been to war, he didn't believe civilians had a reason to own machine guns. We were on leave and pulled up the driveway. He was in his pickup with a razor blade scraping the decal out of the back window. We joined President H.W. Bush in that act.

When the kids were little and one of them would get in trouble, he would say "You better get over here by Grandpa where it's safe."

When his grandson was a smart-mouthed adolescent, he gave me the truest bit of parenting advice I've ever gotten. It was cold, and drizzling, and we were up at his place for deer season. The kid made some smart-alec remark and I wanted to slap the braces off his teeth. I rolled my eyes and muttered that I couldn't wait until the raising-them part was over. He looked at his son who was about 20 feet away skinning a deer and said "It ain't ever done, it just gets different."

Since we had just moved into a house he had given us the down payment for, I had to agree.  Twenty-plus years later, I still agree, and in fact, quote it often.

Rest in Peace, Charlie. I will miss you.

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