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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Voices

Though things change, good memories are always worth keeping

Al Lacombe Special to Voice

About a year ago, our youngest son, who lives in Reno, suggested we get together for a family hunting expedition. I casually seconded the motion, fully expecting the scheme would never come together.

We continued to kick around the idea during a couple of outings this past summer, but the door clanged shut when everyone received an e-mail that said, “We have our hunting licenses and plane tickets. We’ll be seeing you at Bill’s place the day before ‘Turkey Day!’ “

My wife caught me muttering to myself as I showered the next morning. She asked, “What did you say?”

Apparently she wasn’t able to decipher my grumbled response, because she repeated the question. Making sure my voice carried over the shower, I shouted, “I’m trying to figure out why in the world an old fool who’s pushing 70 thinks he can go on an elk hunt.”

My wife’s reply was, “You’re a bit late with that thought, Hon!” and continued with, “I’d suggest you start walking a lot!”

Given this kind of wholehearted support, I threw myself into preparations for the hunt. Muzzle loading firearms needed to be dug out of their dusty hiding places, knives needed sharpening, and obviously I needed to change my conditioning regimen. Yes siree, I rigorously stepped out of the house and vigorously covered my two-block conditioning route every day!

My wife kept her eye on these proceedings. We regularly talked about what I’d accomplished, as well as what I still needed to do.

I should have anticipated the question but was totally blown away when she asked, “Have you tried your hunting pants on yet?”

I’d consciously been avoiding that issue. I simply didn’t want to face the reality that my girth had gotten wider with the passage of time.

Sneaking out of bed at a ridiculously early hour the following morning I headed for the downstairs closet, which contained my hunting duds. I had just slipped into my wool “Malone” style pants when a voice from the other side of the door asked, “Well, do they still fit?” I responded, “The button is hard pressed, but it’s still holding its own, Honey!” She said, “Let me see!”

Striking my best manly pose, I threw open the door and burst into the family room. It would have been a perfect entrance had I not chosen to pull those ancient suspenders, which were attached to the pants, up at the same time. Those 1960s-era garments exploded, sending shards of elastic in every direction! I hadn’t had that much stuff zinging around my ears and over my head since basic training. Instinctively I wrapped my arms around my head and dropped to the floor while shouting “Incoming!”

I was greeted by laughter from my bride as I picked myself off the floor. Using my stern face I asked, “What’s so funny?” Barely able to regain her composure she responded, “Honey, I think I’ve just seen a dry land belly-flop!”

As you’ve probably guessed, the “famous elk hunt” has taken place and the ancient hunter has returned to his digs. You’ve got to be asking, “So what has the old fool learned?”

Well, I’ve learned that I can’t go either as far or as fast in the hills as in bygone days. But I’ve also found that the hills, as well as the animals I meet therein, are a never-ending source of joy, wonder and renewal. And I’ve relearned the lesson that lungs filled with fresh air, when coupled with memories of good fun, good food and newly created tall tales, add a special page to this man’s book of life.

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