At the Y that I most recently left I was the Associate Executive Director – a fancy title that means I was in charge of operations. This included maintaining a 50 year old building.
To keep the plumbing unclogged and the electricity flowing, I worked closely with our maintenance man – who had been there over 20 years and was easily in his 70′s.
He and I are very different people – he rode Harleys in his younger days (I drove a Chevy Cavalier – with dual airbags). He has a few not-so-PC ideas that he’s not afraid to share (I attended Columbia University – the bastion of Political Correctedness). And he has a love for guns – which he painstakingly engraves by hand with beautiful designs (I last handled a gun when I was seven years old – and it was a Daisy BB gun.).
Needless to say, he didn’t warm up to me at first but by the end we built a relationship of mutual respect that was hard earned on my part.
So a couple of weeks ago, he called me at my new Y. I was surprised to hear from him but eventually, after some light-hearted small talk, he told me the reason for his call. He wanted me to apply for a gun permit. After a long pause, as I thought this request over, I asked why. “Well,” he said, “I’m not getting any younger and I have this gun at my house that I’ve engraved and… every time I think about who I want to give it to, you keep coming to mind.”
This is the ultimate compliment from this man. I felt so touched that he would think of me this way and I knew, even though I am not a big fan of guns, that I would get that permit. After all, I could store the gun safely and not buy any ammunition and it would be fine. But I’ve put off getting the permit – being a little busy but also still being a little skittish on potential gun ownership.
And then, something else happened. Swee’pea has a friend at daycare whose name is Brandon. Both TheMonk and Swee’Pea talk about him all the time and it is clear they have a very close relationship with this little boy. Until today, however, I didn’t realize just how close a relationship they had.
As I changed Swee’Pea’s diaper today she began noting that she was girl (and Mommy is a girl and Grandmother is a girl and Nutmeg the cat is a girl…) and that I was a boy. When I asked her who else was a boy she began naming off those closest to her. “TheMonk is a boy. And Brandon is a boy too.” Then she said the three words that I was not prepared to hear so early in her young life…
“I love Brandon.”
I’m getting my gun permit next week.
(And no promises about passing on the ammo.)
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