One morning, the fam and I (the Evyl Robot Empyre) were getting ready to go to our daily life at school and work. We were running a little late that day, and in a rush to get out the door. We had largely made up the time when we were heading out the door at 7:00 a. m., when my phone rang.
The first thought that went through my head was, “Who in the world is calling me at seven in the morning on a Thursday?!?!?” I looked at my caller I. D., and saw that it was Grandpa.
My first thought was worry. It was muted, but it was there. My dad’s dad is getting up there in years. Close to 90. When he was a child, his doctor told his parents that he wouldn’t live a long life due to a congenital heart defect. In his eighties, he climbs on the roof to repair his house, he roots around in the attic, and he digs in the garden out back (which is a small slice of Eden, I might add). My grandparents have been married for 59 years, and live on their own. They lead a very active lifestyle, live passionately, love passionately, and live remarkably fast. They aren’t scared of new technology and entertain guests from out of town. Grandpa gets up before the sun to do his daily bible reading and prayer, and Grandma will cook a meal any time I show up for one. Great people.
Knowing that he wakes up before the dawn, it wasn’t so strange that he might be calling at that hour except that he doesn’t usually. I answered the phone, “Hello?”
“Michael,” he said, “It’s your Grandad. Is this a bad time to call?”
“No,” I responded, “This is a fine time to call. What’s going on?”
He said, “Well, I’ve got your great-grandma’s shotgun here, and I know that you like guns, and if you would be interested, I’d like for you to have it.”
This was kind of a shock. A welcome shock at the time, but a shock, no less. I didn’t know that he had his mother’s gun, and I didn’t know why he would choose now to bestow it, but I was interested, “I’d love to have it. That sounds great,” I clumsily responded.
“Well, give me a call and let me know when you want to come by,” he said.
We parted ways at that. Needless to say, I wondered what the heck kind of gun it was that he was giving to me. I was pretty well obsessed all day long. He said it was his mom’s shotgun. That’s all I knew. Would it be a pristine gun, or a total, rusted out basket-case not worthy of hanging on a wall? There were several bore sizes that it could be, there were several action types, countless makers… the possibilities were nearly endless!
That afternoon, I called him back to let him know that I wanted to come by. He sounded eager for the visit. When we got to his house, he explained that he wanted to sort out his stuff, and pass it out to who he wanted to own it, before they had to fight over it after he was gone. I didn’t like where that was going. He told me that he knew that he wouldn’t live forever, and that he wanted to make sure that treasures like this went to the people he wanted them to go to. He said that he wished he had two guns, so he could give one to me and one to my brother, but since I seemed to be more into guns than my brother…
I didn’t tell him that my brother was not less into guns, only less into finances currently. I did tell him that I would gladly share – that any time he wanted the old gun, that it was his as well as mine. That was sincere, and still is. I also told him that I hoped he would stick around for a while, because I would miss him as well as a bunch of other people.
That’s about when he presented me with this:
This is a Stevens .410 that was built about a hundred years ago.
It has the hammer-block safety, spring-loaded firing pin, and a serial number.
You see, Great-Grandpa wanted Great-Grandma to go hunting with him, and she decided she was game for it (as it were, not literally, of course). He bought her coveralls, and this gun. He went out and bought the absolute, nicest, small-bore shotgun that he could afford. She tried the sport a couple of times and decided it wasn’t for her. She did keep the gun though.
Years after the fact, some cousin was using the gun in the field and shot it, not realizing that he had gotten sand in the barrel. It blew off a few inches from the end of the barrel. At this point, the barrel has a very slight bulge in the end of it, and it lacks the sight bead. My brother and I have cleaned and oiled it for these pictures (it looks 100% better than it did originally).
The gun shoots beautifully. I was shocked that such a thing would do so well, so old, beaten and used, lacking the end of the barrel and the sight. And yet, it does function as it should, and it shoots true.
Either person who has been following my blog knows that there are a few guns in The Evyl Robot Empyre. Each one of them is special. Even my twin revolvers, which are with me all day everyday are unique to each other much like the difference between .223 and 5.56 brass is different to the touch when sorting. I love this old single-shot .410. It is a piece of heritage and a piece of history.
Somewhere, I have pictures of the boy shooting his great, great-grandma’s gun. That’s something that is truly priceless. I worry about Grandpa. I know that his time here is limited, and that The Father will call him home, but I don’t want it to be soon. Then again, I don’t really get any say in that. At the same time, I’m honored that he would give me such a treasure. It doesn’t have much monetary value, but it it priceless in my hereditary line.
Maybe someday, I’ll be giving this one to my grandson, telling him the story about his great, great, great-grandmother and her short stint with this wonderful old shotgun.