June 22nd, 2007 11:11 AM
A Mother, a Daughter and a Gun
Some of you know my story, some of you don't. Those of you who do will read this and understand what I'm talking about, those who don't may be able to get a hint, or you can certainly ask. I decided to post this story (which I wrote the day I returned from Wisconsin because the whole visit touched me so much) because it does show how our (or at least my) decisions to carry can be misconstrued by family, but also rethought, reanalyzed and accepted.
There are those who don't even let their spouse or parents know that they carry. I'm not that way. I'm open to close friends and family. My sisters and brother and cousins and close friends know. Most are very receptive.
Some may criticize that had I never told my mother I carry in the first place, we may never have had to deal with this, but again, that's just not me.
My mother has always believed that almost every decision I've made in the last five years has been because of my sordid past, mostly because she has not gotten over it herself, nor has she forgiven herself for it. I have tried to tell her there's nothing different she could have done and that I'm happy now and that she's been the best mother anyone could ever hope for, but she has her own demons to fight and bury. She has taken my decision to carry wrongly and I finally am seeing that start to change, much to my delight. I may take even longer, but I'm seeing the light.
It can't be easy for her just like it wasn't easy for me, but we're a family, and we're dealing with it together, as it should be.
I sat in the living room, watching television, waiting for my mother to get home from work. It had been almost nine months since I’d seen her last and upon hearing she was upset to have to work the night I would be arrive in town, I promised to wait up for her so we could spend some time together before we went to bed.
Since last she saw me I had begun to take my role as a concealed carrier more seriously. Whereas I only carried when convenient before, I was now carrying constantly and felt rather naked when forced to be without my firearm. Before I had not talked much about my carry habits, but recently I had begun to discuss the issue with both my father and my mother.
While I could not carry while visiting my family as a result of carry laws in their state of residency in Wisconsin, I still took my gun with me to do some target practice and finally prove to my father that I really did carry a .45 on my small frame.
My father and I had already had a great time of showing off our weapons. I had opened my Kimber case and the first thing he had said was, “It looks like a cannon.” I went and got my holster, put it on and showed it just how easy it really was to conceal “the cannon.”
He had never played with snap caps before, nor was he very familiar with the 1911 model, but he enjoyed learning how to take it down, and turning off the lights and getting a good look at my new tritium night sights.
Not to be outdone, he went and got his Browning Hi-Power and we spent a few moments talking about guns and the governor who continues to veto the law that would give my father and other family in that state the right to carry a weapon in their own defense.
Before Dad went to bed I took my gun, secure in its leather holster, setting it on the kitchen table to take up to my bedroom after I said hello to my mother.
When my mother got home from work around one-thirty in the morning, she welcomed me warmly, kissing me on the cheek and giving me a big hug. She asked me how my flight was, and apologized for not doing more to get off of work so she could spend more time with me.
She welcomed me into the kitchen to talk and as she turned on the lights her eyes fell on the holstered gun sitting on her kitchen table.
“Is that yours?” she asked, knowing it had to be.
“Yes, it’s my carry gun,” I said.
She stood still for a moment, just looking at it.
“Can I see it?” she asked.
I unholstered it, cleared it and handed it to her as she sank into a kitchen chair looking at the weapon in her hand as one might look at something that they are not quite sure they are ready to accept.
I have never considered my little Kimber Ultra CDP to be big, but in her hands it looked huge, and in contrast her hands looked so small and so fragile.
She handled the gun carefully, turning it one way and then the other. She put her finger on the trigger, then took it off again, she brought the gun up to her eye level and looked across it at the sights, then put it down again as though she was displeased with what she saw.
This was not a target gun or a sporting gun, this was a self-defense gun, a gun carried, designed and modified to be used against threats, primarily from other humans. I don’t think that realization sat well with her.
She stared at the gun for a few short seconds and then looked at me.
She looked so sad, and without saying a word I heard everything she was too polite to say.
She’s sad because she wishes she could have protected me more when I was a child. She’s sad because she realizes she couldn’t. She's sad that I was forced to take my protection into my own hands when she feels it is still her job, and she’s sad to realize she can never and could never truly do that for me. But most of all, she’s sad because she knows the pain I had to go through to come to the point where I’ve decided I could kill to keep from going through it again. She’s sad to see her baby girl strap on a gun to do a job she wishes she could have done seventeen, ten, and five years ago. She’s sad to be reminded she lives in a world were violence touches her little girl. I could see her thinking about her three other children who had not been touched with such violence and how none of them felt they needed a lethal means to defend themselves. I could see her considering my past and how big of a part she thought it played in my decision to start carrying a weapon of self-defense. I could see her sadness at those thoughts.
“You carry this?” she said, her voice almost at a whisper. She brought the gun back up to eye level and I could see her forcing herself to look down the barrel and picture another human being at the other end. She held the gun there for a few more moments and lowered it again. She looked determined to at least try to understand me and my choice to make this gun my companion and protector. Trying to see through the eyes of the girl I was five years ago, forgetting, or maybe just not truly grasping how much different I've become.
“Yes,” I replied, matching her tone.
“Tell me about it,” she said.
For the next couple of moments I shared specs and modifications and reasons I chose the Kimber Ultra CDP over any other gun for my personal defense. When she handed the gun back to me she didn’t necessarily look relieved, but she did smile.
She looked as though she wanted to say something positive about the gun, anything to reassure me that she didn’t think negatively about my choice, or me, but her silence confirmed that no positive words could be found.
She changed the subject.
Over the next few days of my visit she would see me holster my gun and walk outside with my father to do some shooting. She would stare at it on my hip as I laughed, talked, reminisced and enjoyed the company of my family. I told jokes, I teased my Dad, I ran in out of the house for fresh targets, smiling. She got to see, first hand, that carrying it wasn’t a burden, but but a light assurance. I was still her little girl, I was energetic and happy, I was just packing, too. My gun wasn't there as a testimony to my paranoia, but rather to my determination to protect the new and fabulous life I had built for myself over the last five years.
On the day before I left to come home, I holstered my gun to go shoot with my Dad. When I came in, I plopped down beside my mother on the couch with my gun still on my hip and began talking about nothing in particular while my Dad went to get cleaning supplies so we could clean our recently fired firearms.
She stared at the gun less than she had before, and she even remarked at how beautifully the grips matched the belt I was wearing.
“It’s very pretty,” she said, much to my surprise.
As I got up to go upstairs and get changed as my Dad wanted to take me out to eat, I threw a shirt on over my gun and she asked, “Are you going to carry it with you?” Because of her almost positive tone, at first I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, but as I was carrying nothing else I caught on quickly.
I said, “I can’t. It’s Wisconsin, Mom.”
She laughed, “Oh, yes, I forgot.”
As I started to climb the stairs once more she looked again at the holster peeking from beneath my shirt and smiled warmly for the first time since she knew the gun had accompanied me from Pennsylvania.
The sadness in her face was gone and in her own quiet way I think she was telling me that she was starting to understand.
My Dad brags about my decision to carry as though I had won the Pulitzer Prize, my Mom, on the other hand is learning to understand that it wasn’t her fault I decided to carry a gun. She didn’t fail me and the gun on my hip is not a reminder of that failure. It’s not a talisman to ward off the nightmares of my past. The gun is nothing more than a gun, a tool to use in a time of need. There is nothing any of us can do about what happened back then, we can only look to the future and what could happen there. I’m a different girl than I was then, I have another life I’m living, and my gun is one of the many tools I have in place to try to keep my life the way it is.
She sees all of my decisions to carry as the consequence of something negative in my past. But I think she’s starting to understand that while it would be foolish of me to say that doesn’t play a part, there’s a whole lot more positive now. I’m not consumed with just trying to keep an old pain from resurfacing; I’m not carrying a gun just to defend against something bad. While that is a part of it, it’s a very small part. Mostly, I carry to protect something good: my beautiful life.
June 22nd, 2007 11:23 AM
Our world NEEDS for you to write the book that is in you.
You are articulate, experienced, competent and the poster child for self-defense without being a nutcase.
Please consider this, if you haven't already.
Thanks for your posts!
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliott
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
June 22nd, 2007 11:29 AM
Beautifully done. Thank you for sharing.
My mother never understood until I went into corrections.
If total government control equals safety, why are prisons so dangerous?
June 22nd, 2007 11:34 AM
Very nice Lima. I'm glad your mom is becoming a bit more accepting of your choices.
June 22nd, 2007 12:21 PM
Thanks so much for sharing that. It truly touched me. I remember my Mom's reaction when I told her I had decided to learn handguns and carry regularly. When I told her I carried my gun all the time, she remarked, "Are you that scared?"
I said, "No, Mom! I'm that prepared!!" She still thinks it is a bit strange, but I think she's starting to understand my decision a bit better recently.
I second the suggestion that you consider writing a book about the decision to carry!
Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!
Proud Georgia Firearms Licensee
Springfield Armory XD-9 Subcompact
Bersa Thunder 380
June 22nd, 2007 12:31 PM
Wonderful story. I'm fairly new here. From reading your post's it's obvious that you are a gifted writer, intelligent and eloquent. Keep em comming.
June 22nd, 2007 12:49 PM
I don't know about your past, but it's obvious that you have triumphed and emerged a strong and confident woman.We all make our decisions based on our life lessons.Your parents should be proud of your courage and the strength of your convictions.Good job. Chuck.
June 22nd, 2007 12:55 PM
Excellent story Lima, I enjoyed reading it.
USMC rule # 23 of gunfighting: Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
I am the God fearing, gun toting, flag waving conservative you were warned about!
June 22nd, 2007 01:00 PM
I'll add my vote to that of everyone else in the thread and say that you should definately write a book about self defense. Reading your stories is enlightening, and extremely well written.
Firefighter / EMT - Always Ready. Ever Willing.
~Never do anything that you don't want to have to explain to the paramedics...~
June 22nd, 2007 01:24 PM
great post. thanks! I really enjoyed it.
June 22nd, 2007 01:36 PM
Lima, you have a wonderful way of writing, and I thoroughly enjoy reading, and am touched by, your stories.
BTW, are you still doing your blog? I check it almost every day, you know!
June 22nd, 2007 01:38 PM
+1000 frome me. However, I don't think it really needs to be a book about self defense. I think the post above speaks more about making a concious decision to be responsible for ones self, and a decision not to be beaten.
Originally Posted by firefighter4884
Limatunes, if you feel I'm wrong you have my apologies. Having been close to two women who suffered abuse early in their lives, I can truly see a benefit should you decide to expand on and organize your writings. Thank you.
June 22nd, 2007 01:41 PM
Great post. Glad things are going better with your mother and you carrying. And better for you in general.
I don't tell a bunch of people, but the people closest to me know. Immediate family and few close friends. I've never really come out and said to anyone at work but I think there are one or two that know though various conversations about guns and holsters.
Fortunately everyone close to me accepts it fairly well. My wife doesn't really understand I don't think but she doesn't object either. My children thought it weird/funny at first but don't really care now. My daughter has asked sometimes (like if we are alone in the truck) if I'm carrying, more in a way that makes me think she is checking to make sure I am just in case.
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June 22nd, 2007 01:50 PM
you just have a way with words...
June 22nd, 2007 01:51 PM
Yes, she does.
Originally Posted by MR D
"When a man attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him—by force.
"... No, I do not share his evil or sink to his concept of morality: I merely grant him his choice, destruction, the only destruction he had the right to choose: his own." -John Galt, Atlas Shrugged
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