A friend apologized for not stopping by my Open Studio–an event in my town when artists open their studios to show off their work. His excuse? He’d taken his grandson hunting and he’d bagged an antelope, his first. My friend, I could tell, was excited to have shared that rite of passage with his grandson. Tops anything else he could have done that weekend and made me wonder about the antelope horns in our garage.
I knew they were from the first antelope my husband bagged as a teenager, growing up in Twin Bridges, Montana. Who had shared that moment with him? His father was sixty years old when he was born and close to eighty when he was a teenager. Besides, he was the only pharmacist in that small town, meaning he worked six and a half days a week, hardly ever taking a vacation. He even worked the morning he died. Not likely he’d gone with him. My husband never knew his grandparents nor had any close uncles. Young boys don’t learn to hunt on their own. Why had I never thought to ask? The horns obviously meant something. They were polished, mounted, ready to hang, and had been packed and unpacked for every one of the dozen moves we’ve made during our marriage.
So I asked.
Turns out that his father hired someone to teach him the fundamentals of hunting, but he didn’t like the guy. So mostly he hunted alone. His mother would drive him into the hills and wait while he went out with his gun. He got an antelope and a deer that way before he gave up hunting to go to college and has never returned to the sport.
Often we don’t even know the stories of the people closest to us, unless we ask, unless we wonder . . .