It’s only now that I wonder what impact shooting my dad at point-blank range has had on you. It wasn’t a crime of passion or an act of hatred, just an accident.
It was the 1950s, and my dad was a young man enjoying a seaside holiday with his best friend. He had just won a tennis tournament and he and his friend were in competitive spirit, tackling various challenges at an amusement park. At the end of that summer’s day they were even, so they wandered over to the shooting gallery for the decider.
My dad took up the position next to you at the rifle range and that is where he last saw daylight. It was an open-and-snap-shut rifle. No safety catch and no chain to stop people pointing the gun away from the target.
It is a miracle that he wasn’t killed. For a few weeks it was touch and go as to whether he would survive. For years afterwards my dad’s sister was nervous every time the phone rang: she had taken the call from the hospital and the shock stayed with her.
I wonder how you felt, waiting to see if the man you shot would live or die? Last year, I heard for the first time that you had asked to see my dad in hospital but he hadn’t wanted you to come. Thank you for your courage in trying.
Despite being blinded aged 22, my dad has led a full life. He went to India on his own; worked in London; met my mum, who introduced him to hill-walking; and he got a degree. He tells me that his life has been interesting.
He has never complained or spoken bitterly about you or the shooting gallery, which settled out of court. He is the bravest, kindest man I know.
When you shot my dad his life changed course. The new direction led him to meet my mum. I do not know your name but I want you to know that some good has come out of the darkness.
I am grateful for my life, and the life of my brother. My son and daughter are almost the same age my dad was then. The family that he loves so much, including his three grandchildren, would not exist but for you. I hope this brings you some compensation.
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