When I was a little squirt, my dad had to travel a lot for his work, so we didn't do a lot of the stuff that kids ought to do with their fathers, like camp and hunt and such.
We did have a cabin up at the lake, so during the summer, we went up there on weekends and would do a little fishing and water skiing, but mostly Dad just sat around and relaxed - he really needed that time off to unwind. So, again, I didn't do a lot of stuff with him that kids ought to do.
Now, I honestly don't feel bad about it, because my dad worked hard so that we'd have opportunities in life that he didn't have as a kid. He grew up dirt-poor, so all of the success that he's achieved has been of his own doing (and he's achieved much success). Besides, I turned out OK, unless you ask my wife, but she has some funny ideas about what "OK" means.
Anyway, this is a long-winded way of getting around to my point. A couple of years ago, my folks were cleaning out the house, something they do ever so often, getting rid of stuff that's sort of accumulated over time. Dad wanted to know if I was interested in his old hunting rifle. Now, like I said, we'd never gone hunting. In fact, we'd only gone shooting a couple of times that I can remember, way back in the late '60s or early '70s. But I had always admired that rifle, even though it's nothing special - just an old Springfield 1903 with a nice Monte Carlo stock. So he gave it to me.
Last year, I mentioned that I'd picked up a few more guns and that I really had a blast shooting that 90 year old rifle because it was really accurate. That's when I discovered that he had no idea that I enjoyed shooting that much. Foolish me for never talking to him about it before. The next weekend, he opened up the closet and gave me almost all of his guns - family heirlooms ranging from great great grandpa's Civil War Springfield up to the most modern rifle, a 1929 vintage Winchester 1906.
I knew that he had the guns - that 1906 was the first gun I'd ever shot. But I did not realize just how much he enjoyed shooting. And, as I said, he did not realize just how much I enjoyed shooting!
For Father's Day this year, my sister and I bought him a Henry Golden Boy rifle, the first brand new rifle that he'd ever owned. And this year, he and I have gone shooting almost every weekend this summer. It's a 120 mile trip for me to make to visit, but I honestly can't wait for the weekend to arrive so that we can head out to the old gravel pit and bust up some tin cans.
So here's the point that I'm finally getting to: If you're as lucky as I am to have your dad still around (he's a very young 77 years old), make the most of the time that you have. I missed out on a lot of years of fun because I didn't speak up, but I'm making the most of whatever time we've got left together (and I hope that it's a long time!)
And if you're a dad, make sure that your kids know just how much fun popping holes in an old green beans can can be!