Gun Control

Saying that it’s been a long week is gross understatement of the facts.  It feels like a decade has passed over the last seven days.  I’m fairly sure I look like a 120 year old woman, with a wizened face and a hunch.

The post I wrote seven days ago found me on the brink of an emotional breakdown.  That I pulled out of it and found the strength to handle what came next is a testament to the human ability of survival at all costs.

To recap recent events, my elderly father is dying of lung cancer.  He’s got metastases on his brain, and recently endured two rounds of radiation therapy.  Currently he’s in hospice and his mental state is precarious.  Because of the incident that inspired the previous blog post, I could no longer indulge any denial about Dad’s decline.  And this is where the story takes an even uglier turn.

My dad has always been a gun owner, he received his first weapon at 15 from his own father.  He’s never been a gun nut, always very responsible with the handling and storage of his arsenal.  Dad collected many guns of all types during his life.  When he retired from being a machinist, he became a dealer, setting up tables at gun shows around the state. It was a retirement venture, he and Mom enjoyed the outings and it kept them active.

Dad has always been a stickler for the laws regarding weapons.  At some point, the laws of California made it extremely difficult for casual dealers like my dad to stay in business, so he stopped dealing and sold off most of his inventory.  Most.

He kept some for home defense, some for the sentimental value and some as investment pieces.  He also had a substantial amount of ammunition and assorted accessories.  I didn’t really understand how large his collection was until yesterday, when I saw it all, every last piece, spread over the living room floor.

He’s been wanting to sell his collection, been saying so since his cancer diagnosis.  But I had so many other things to deal with, and I have no experience with gun sales, that I just kept pushing the idea away.  After last weekend, his fury was biblical, I began to worry about his mental state and the weapons.  I’m not the  only person who walks into his home regularly.  There’s his housekeeper and a roster of folks from the hospice coming through his front door every week.

What I couldn’t get past, couldn’t gloss over anymore, are the inexplicable and unpredictable rages that were coming over him on nearly a daily basis.  Especially because he never remembered them after the fact.  All I could see was an ever-increasing potential for tragedy.  Those guns were on his mind, his mind is confused and a stranger walking through the door at the wrong time could be easily confused as an invader.  Too easily.

As much as I love my dad, as much as I respect him and never, ever want to take anything away from him, I simply could not leave those weapons with him.  My obligations are not only to him, I’m obliged to look after my own safety, the safety of his caregivers, the safety of the families living nearby.  Not surprisingly, the hospice was adamant the weapons be removed as well.

It does not fill me with pride to tell you that we ganged up on him.  My husband, two representatives from the hospice and me.  We tried explaining the reasons he should surrender the weapons, but he doesn’t remember his rages.  I can’t think of any person under any circumstances willing to admit their mental state is compromised, it’s humiliating.  It still tears me up knowing I was a party to his humiliation, tears of shame sting my eyes as I type this.

I wish I could say that my dad saw reason and surrendered his weapons.  But he didn’t.  When it became apparent the argument had reached a stalemate, we had to do something drastic.  To my everlasting shame, I had to deceive my father.  I deliberately preyed on his confusion and asked him to go out to dinner with me.

He always wants to go out for a meal with me, it’s the one thing that always works.

I lured him out of the house, my brother came and took the guns off the property.  My dad trusted me and I betrayed him, sat there at a bad Mexican restaurant and chose my small talk carefully so I wouldn’t be outright lying to him.  I was a cowardly, mealy mouthed conspirator in a crime against a very sweet man who wouldn’t even let me pay for dinner.

Going back into the house was like walking to my own execution, I knew what would come.  I would have to admit what I did, tell him that I tricked him because I loved him.  It was a pain on the same level as making the decision to take our daughter off of life support all those years ago.  It’s the kind of pain that never stops hurting.

The look of betrayal in his eyes is seared into my soul.  No matter how good, right or honorable my intentions, my actions were cruel.  I do not regret choosing to do the right thing, but I will always regret the way I had to do it.

I wish I could say that was the end of the story.  It’s not, it got worse.  But this is all I can process for one day, so I will continue tomorrow.

Until then, please considering telling at least one person how very much you love them, how you will always fight for them and how glad you are that person is in your life.

Part 1:  Crumbling Of A Caregiver

Part 3:  Collateral Damage

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About Cairn

Cairn Rodrigues is a lapsed chef and a current writer of refreshingly delightful fantasy fiction. She has a passably good relationship with punctuation while maintaining the high standards and integrity of self-published authors the world over. With over 30k tweets to her credit, she can sum up even the most profound and convoluted thought into a mere 140 characters as if by magic. Cairn knows all the words to La Bamba and is very well educated in classic American porn. She enjoys glitzy fireworks displays, the iridescent feathers on common street pigeons and a really great Monte Cristo sandwich.
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14 Responses to Gun Control

  1. Bob Sanchez says:

    You are being too hard on yourself, Cairn. You and your husband took a difficult action based on your love for your Dad. If there were a better way, you would have taken it.
    Bob Sanchez recently posted…My Year in AlaskaMy Profile

  2. You didn’t betray your dad, Cairn – any more than he would’ve betrayed you to do the same, if the shoe were on the other foot, when you were a kid. That’s how love works, sometimes. You deceived him for his safety and for the safety of those around him, because you recognized that his mental state wasn’t consistently healthy. You did it with kindness; you didn’t leave him there to have hospice workers call in law enforcement. You helped him to sell the guns and get a better than decent amount for them. And he has already forgiven you and told you he loves you. Now you forgive you and get on with it.

    Getting old isn’t for sissies. And one day, you and I will be old. Let’s hope we have kind people like you looking after us when our time comes. I know I hope that!
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…If You’re Going to Be Interviewed…My Profile

  3. I’m both happy and sad that I didn’t have to be there after the removal. I’ve spent considerable time and risked both life and liberty during advocacy for Californian’s 2nd amendment and firearms rights. Now here I was taking part in the deprivation of them. There this saying that permeates the gun community, and I’m sure you’ve all heard or read it to the effect of “when they pry it from my cold dead hands”. Well, here it was happening to him, and it wasn’t even at the hands of the government.

    • That’s called “responsible gun ownership,” Davi, and it’s something gun owners need to be vigilant about so long as they value the right to bear arms. Constitutions CAN be changed and often are. Ours has done a good job of standing the test of time, but every example of irresponsible (despite often being LEGAL) gun ownership erodes public favor towards the 2nd amendment.

      And truly, while it may symbolically represent the people’s right not to be oppressed by their government, guns don’t stand a chance against nukes. 😉 Or even tanks.

      If 99% of your hunting happens in the grocery store and you don’t seriously believe a zombie horde is going to invade, it’s PROBABLY not an issue of survival. Self defense, only if you’re a good shot and have the wherewithal and will to use it.

      I agree that criminals will always find a way to get guns ILLEGALLY, and I do support the 2nd amendment – for now. But I don’t have much respect for today’s NRA, and it’s people doing what you and Cairn had to do that keep people like me voting in favor of private gun ownership.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…On Hating the Sound of My Own VoiceMy Profile

    • Cairn says:

      I knew you would be conflicted about that. But you’re a great brother and I knew you would come through for me.
      Cairn recently posted…Collateral DamageMy Profile

  4. Marian Allen says:

    Dear one, if you NEED to beat yourself up some because that’s as close as you can come to taking all your dad’s pain onto yourself, do that a little. But Bob and Holly are right: you did a Good thing, not a Bad thing. Even the way you did it was the best choice among the few alternatives you were given. How much worse would it have been if you had ignored hospice and your own instincts, left the guns with him, then had to explain to him how he had shot somebody and didn’t remember it? Yeah. So accept big loving hugs and massive lashings of sympathy and support from your posse. MWAH!
    Marian Allen recently posted…Caturday With Katya On Saying GoodbyeMy Profile

  5. Pete Laberge says:

    Well, all the other commenters above are all good friends of yours, smart people, and they all said it better than me.

    But… I will add my poor and silly little voice, complete with very little wisdom, and horrid writing:

    a. I think you did the right thing. for everyone’s safety and long term happiness.

    b. You cannot own all the responsibility, as you had help from other people who were ALSO doing “the right thing”.

    c. You followed the hospice rules. And you have to do that to get your dad the help he needs and deserves.

    d. You did not steal them, throw them away, sell them off and take the money, nothing like that. YOU arranged for the weapons to go into safe custody. YOU did your duty under the law and under the Ideals of the Constitution. What the Founders Intended. YOU are a hero. You should take a bow. YOU must stand tall, and proud.

    e. Assuming they are in safe custody, and a miracle happens and your dad get well, and I HOPE so, even though I know the odds, and am nothing but a silly romantic, foolish thinker, then the guns are still there, but safe. No one can go steal them from you dad. No one can go shoot him with his own gun in a home invasion gone bad. YOU ARE A HERO!

    f. And if there is no miracle, then you did what you would need to do anyway, someday.

    g. There are other things that should be said, but I do not know what they are or how to say them. Sorry.

    So, now for some dumb Canuck advice:

    a. Get a trustworthy lawyer, gun dealer, cop, whomever — an expert, to help you inventory everything, and write it down. The expert will tell you how to set up safe and secure storage. You can take pics with a digital camera and show dad that they are OK. And you can find out what the rules are for safe disposal. And maybe this person will help you arrange for such disposal.

    b. Some will tell you to turn them in for destruction. I think that is silly. I think that is wasteful. I think your dad would not like that. Try have the collection assessed/appraised, and when the time comes, sold off, as much as possible, as a unit. And to a responsible collector. Then, with your head held high, you can look at yourself in the mirror, and look at yourself with pride and respect. And do you know what your dad would end up saying? “Good Job Kiddo! I’m proud of you. Thanks.” Heck, I think we should all say it now.

    So to end: Thank you for all you have done, to preserve life and property. So ensure for safety. To uphold the Constitution. TO CARE PROPERLY FOR YOUR FATHER.

    Oh, and take care of YOU! Because we need more people like YOU in the world.

    I’m sorry, I was so long winded. I am poor at expressing myself, I get mis-understood a lot. But I do care for the common good, and for the best for the majority.

    Thanks for reading this far, and allowing my 2 cents.

    Hang in there, and good luck.

  6. alberta ross says:

    Working one’s way around a problem goes with the terrioty I’m afraid when something likes this happens, for yours and others safety and for your father, who would have been devasted beyond belief it in a rage he had hurt/killed someone. His humiliation and hurt at what you did was a minor thing compared to what he would have felt if the worst had happened.

    Caring for someone, especially when love is involved, is not for wimps. Is not as some do-gooders would have it good for the carers and cared for souls, whatever that means – it is the most difficult labour of love we ever have to do – I wouldn’t even wish it on my enemies.

    your father is not himself and you must remember the good times, it grows harder as time goes on but find photos – talk about happy days, keep your father there in your head to help with matters now and later

    It is amazing how we can find the strength to keep rising to the occasion and I am so pleased you have a good support behind you – please take care and remember you are good person doing the best in dreadful days –

    hold on tight girl

  7. Pete Laberge says:

    You are thus really a hero!

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