Roy’s mom tried to explain that was how some folks deal with their grief. Every time he heard them, the hurt fired up all over again. Several times he was on the verge of blurting out, “Can’t you just stop talking about it!?” But he never did.
After Robert’s death, Roy refused to go hunting. It wasn’t right to be reminded about good times that were forever gone. One Saturday, at Mom’s insistence, Roy and his dad left the house with their shotguns, but when they got to the farm they spent the whole time cutting firewood. He guessed his dad felt the same.
The matter had come to a head on the way home after Regina had given him the 1100. Roy had asked if he could put the gun in the trunk. “Just hang on to it,” Dad barked. “It’s your present. You’ve been asking for a new shotgun. Appreciate it.”
But he didn’t want this gun. Not now. How could he ever look at it or hold it and not feel sick? Roy resolved to stick the Remington in the gun safe and leave it there.
Before they left the house this morning Dad made Roy go back and get the Remington and his orange hunting vest. For several hours they cut wood and had piled up more than the family could possibly burn over the rest of the winter. The teenager wondered if his father had forgotten the shotgun was in the truck. He hoped so.
“All right,” Dad said, “while I split the rest, you take that 20 gauge down to the quail field and get us some birds. A quail dinner sure would go good after all this work. How about that?”
“But, Dad--,” Roy started. “You’ve got to face up to this, son. Even though Robert’s gone, our lives have to go on. Regina’s going to ask about it, and Robert would have wanted you to hunt with it. I know it’s hard.”
There was no arguing that logic, but as Roy headed out he imagined the unwanted gun was burning his hands. If he could he would just put it down and walk away. But his dad would be hopping mad if he did that.
So Roy just sat down, stuck between what his sense of right and wrong and what everyone else expected. He thought back to that last hunt and remembered how great it had felt when Robert handed him the Remington. Why couldn’t he feel that way now?
Dad was right, of course, Robert would want him to use it. What had he said? “ … a shame for such a fine gun to sit around… Maybe this gun is meant to be passed from one shooter to another.”
I will have to pass it on, too, thought Roy. That will solve the problem. But he knew his parents and Aunt Regina wouldn’t understand if he tried giving away his gift.
Not now. I’ve got to keep it for a while and use it, just like Robert did, he reasoned. But someday, I’ll find some kid who loves hunting and is just getting started. And I’ll help him the way Robert helped me. And when the time comes, I’ll pass on the shotgun.
Roy’s legs were cramping and he had to stand up. Heading for the quail field, he walked off the cramp. He hoped he would find the birds and could hit them when he did. For now, the gun that once belonged Uncle Hank and then to Robert, was his. He had to use it a lot and shoot it well.