My father, Rev. Rolf Blikslager Memming, Ph.D., used a gun to end his life on September 11, 2000. His death occurred when I was 22 years old and enrolled in graduate school. On Friday, September 8, 2000, he purchased the gun that would end his life. He had to wait for three days to bring it home due to a State of Vermont law. On Monday, while my mother was at work, my father killed himself.
He was suffering from depression and should not have had such easy access to a gun. If common-sense gun laws were in place, his known mental illness could have triggered an alert so that he could not purchase a gun. No mentally ill person should have access to a gun. It’s not safe for them or for society.
My father’s death still affects me and many others that loved him. He didn’t need to die this way. His death was preventable. He should have had a chance to recover from his acute bout of mental illness. My children are missing out on a grandfather that would have loved them and nurtured them. He was a loving and devoted father. I’ve never felt as loved by anyone else in this world to the degree that my father loved me. I miss the touch of his hand as he caressed my cheek and told me how grateful he was to have me as his daughter. I miss singing in harmony to music in the car during long drives with him on the weekends. I miss his goofy sense of humor and vast knowledge of history and languages. I miss him so very much. I miss him every single day. He would be 79 this July.
I love you dad. I am sharing your story in the hopes that others will see how devastating losing loved ones to gun violence can be. I hope that one day, Americans will come to their senses and prevent suicides caused by the unfettered access to firearms. I love you dad.