My grandfather raised me. To this day I still think of, and call him, "Dad." He was in the US Navy, he was a convicted felon, and he was at one point a drug trafficker (though the most he was ever busted with more than a few ounces of weed, just enough to get the felony in California in the 1990s).
Any time I was being a pissy teenager he would look at me and say, "You need some pussy," or "You wouldn't be so pissed off all the time if you got some pussy."
Thirty year old me thinks back on that and says, "That mean old bastard was on to something."
This was a man who claimed .22LR was a perfectly acceptable deer hunting cartridge, and that anything bigger was just a waste. When I asked him how you humanely kill deer with a .22 he told me, "We just got close and shot them in the eye."
Some people might think he was full of shit for claiming to take deer with head shots, but I watched him put three rapid fire rounds into a coyote at least 100 yards away braced against a tractor wheel using a beat up old semi-auto .22 rifle and iron sights. I don't remember what model the rifle was, only that it had a tubular magazine.
I also saw him shoot rabbits on the run with a Ruger 10/22 using iron sights. This was after drinking a case of Old Milwaukee's Best Light.
The first time I ever tasted moonshine I was in elementary school. It was fresh from the still he'd built behind the camper we had on 20 acres he owned in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We spent most of our summers in those mountains if we weren't visiting his side of the family in Alabama.
He's been dead for years now, but I still dream about him from time to time. There were a lot of bad times, and my childhood wasn't easy, but I try to put things in the context of his life when I think about him. There were plenty of good times too, and plenty who had a worse time growing up than me.
Considering where I'm at in my life, the old drunk didn't do half bad as a substitute father. I mean, I could blame all my failures on him and say I'm only where I am in spite of him rather than because of him, but if he taught me anything it was how to be self reliant. So there's that.
Road Trips - A Brigid Post
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