I got a call early last week from my family in South Carolina. They told me my brother, 6 years my senior, was dying of cancer. I threw some stuff in a carry on and put my old truck in the wind.
I got to Charleston Tuesday morning and went straight to the hospital. I was told Hospice had been called in and my brother was going to my niece’s house for the duration. I got to talk to my brother a couple of times and got the closure I so badly needed.
The next day, my brother’s wife came to me with an old familiar rifle in her hands. “Brian said he wants you to have this.” The memories came flooding back.
In 1960, when my brother was 14 years old, Dad bought a Mossberg model 146-B bolt action 22 rifle and gave it to my brother. Brian and I both learned to shoot with that rifle. My brother has kept it all his life.
I told my brother his wife and given me the rifle and thanked him for it. In his weak condition, all he could do was whisper “Shoot it.” I promised him I would and that it would be passed down to my grand nephew, the heir to my firearms collection. He nodded and smiled. Eight days after being diagnosed with cancer, my brother passed November 8th, early Saturday morning.
So, what’s all this got to do with firearms? I have inherited a rifle I’ve always considered a family heirloom. I can’t count the times I told my brother I wanted to be first in line if he ever decided to sell it.
I have many fond memories of Dad taking Brian and I to a favorite place to shoot and spending hours burning 22 ammo in that rifle. I’ll miss my brother, but now I have that rifle and will honor my brother by putting it back in action.
Thank you, Bubba. I’ll see you soon.