Old Ron died a couple of weeks ago.
While not exactly a crazy old hermit hoarder, he was probably the next closest thing. He was 70 and lived alone not far from me. I used to go shooting with him, but hadn’t done so in a while as I’d gotten busy with other things and because, truth be told, he was kind of annoying at the range.
Don’t get me wrong—he was a nice old guy. However whenever we’d go out, I’d bring a few firearms, expecting to stay a few hours at most, while Ron would bring a dozen. And once at the range, I’d shoot mine, but Ron would fuddle with his, fixing real and imagined problems with them on the firing line, and when not doing that, he was busy offering unsolicited shooting advice to anyone else that he could find or taking a smoke break behind the firing line. He was a neat old guy and he meant well, but usually by the time I was done shooting and ready to leave, he was just about to start firing maybe his third pistol out of the ten or twelve that he’d brought, and then he’d get mad because he hadn’t gotten the chance to shoot.
Eventually I just stopped going out with him, but he was still a nice old guy with a fairly comprehensive collection of Eastern European pocket pistols and rifles along with a few other miscellaneous arms. There wasn’t anything particularly impressive there, but it was his collection and he was really proud of it. I remember asking him once if he had any that he wanted to sell, but he was adamant that he was saving them all for his daughter. He wanted her to have them all when he died, and he seemed pleased with the idea of his collection passing on to her when he was gone.
Now I didn’t know too much about old Ron’s daughter, because he was kinda protective of his past and I wasn’t one to pry, but he’d mentioned that daughter a couple of times, always in the context of how his guns were going to go to her as his legacy. I didn’t know her or where she lived, but I found out shortly after Ron died, because another neighbor who found him dead in his house when she went to check up on him had the grim chore of finding her number among his things and notifying her. Turns out the daughter lives in Colorado but she made arrangements to return when she heard the news. She told the neighbor who notified her that it would take her a couple of days to make it back, and out of respect for Ron and his daughter, I offered to go over and secure his firearms until she could arrive to take possession and I even offered to give her an inventory and a rough appraisal if she wanted one. The response, through the neighbor, was that I was free to watch his house until she got there but under no circumstances was anyone to touch any of his guns. She was pretty adamant about that. OK, fine. Not a problem. I never went over and she arrived a couple of days later.
Once she was there, I stopped by to properly pay my respects and inquire about a service for Ron. She was pretty dismissive of the idea of any service, and sure enough, as it stands now, there may or may not be one sometime next spring. She didn’t seem broken up at all, just shrugging and replying that, at 70, he’d lived a long, full life. I have no idea where Ron’s been taken to or interred at and no one else seems to, either. All I do know is that, within a day or arriving, she’d began making plans to sell as much of Ron’s stuff as she could, from his cars and new motorcycle to his personal effects. But she quickly told me that she “loved to shoot” and planned to keep all of Ron’s guns, stating this before I even asked about them.
Again, that’s all well and fine. They were his and he’d always told me that he wanted her to have them, so all’s well that ends well, right?
Well a week later, they were all posted on the website of a local auction house, along with all of his ammunition, reloading gear and other shooting stuff, his tools, and even his portraits of dogs playing pool--pretty much everything but his clothes and his toothbrush. She’d simply dumped it all en masse, apparently deciding that she just wanted a few quick bucks. As far as I can tell, she didn’t keep any of the ones that I knew that he had, and she didn’t even offer any of Ron’s friends or the neighbors who’d helped her clean out his house the option to buy any; she just arranged for the local auction house to come pick everything up and headed on back to Colorado.
For years, old Ron had planned on his daughter having his gun collection, which was his pride and joy. It’s probably just as well that he wasn’t around to see her just swoop in and sell them off for a quick buck along with the rest of his life’s accumulated possessions. It just seems like an insult from where I sit.
And this got me to thinking about my own collection and what happens to it once I'm gone. I really don't have anyone to leave it all to who might appreciate it--my mom doesn't want it and my nephew doesn't seem all that interested. Unless there's a kid out there that I don't know about (whistling past the graveyard here...), it's quite probable that my collection could wind up getting scattered to the four winds as well.
(I can see the headlines now: "Fat old one-legged lawyer disappears down old mine shaft. Authorities ponder the disposition of his arsenal and one mangy German Shepherd.")
Anyway, my hope is that my stuff gets offered for sale to my friends out there (you know who you are) and that the money goes to my saintly old mother to help her out in her declining years. (I'll know soon enough if she reads this or not. Heh.) I like to think that I can count on my friends to give her fair value, or at least a lot closer than that auction house will pay Ron's less-than-appreciative daughter, and it pleases me to think that my favorite arms would carry on in the armories of the people that I care about and maybe even give them cause to remember me once in a while after I'm outta here.
Oh--and my standard last wish still applies: In the event that my demise is brought about by bad guys, my stuff goes to whoever avenges me, mangy German Shepherd included.