Don went on the hunt both years and he was looking forward to going this year but today he didn't pass the gun safety test. Cognitive issues. After the three gun safety teachers made their ruling I had the job of telling Don. It was hard on the guys to fluke him. They all like Don a lot but it's not fair for him to tie up two guides and a blind in the woods if he's not going to hunt. They have a waiting list to get into the program because they can only take 30-32 hunters into the program.
On the way home, I asked Don how he thought he did on a scale of 1 to 10 and he said a five. Then I asked him if he would be surprised if I told him that he flunked the safety test. He answered, "Don't know." He took it pretty good when broke the news---sad, of course---but he's always been a stickler for gun safety so I was able to use that fact to explain it to him so he could accept it. I told him that he's hunted a lot of years with a good, clean record and it's better to leave the sport that way than to take a chance on marring that record with an accident. He got two bonus years after his stroke that we never would have dreamed possible and I told he has to celebrate that fact.
It hasn't been a happy evening and it won't be a month filled with anticipation like it's been the last two September/Octobers. But he does have a consolation prize. They asked me if I'd like to volunteer at the deer camp so Don can come along and hang out as the hunters and their guides come in and out and at after dark for the bonfire and dinner. He seemed to like that idea today but who knows if he'll feel the same way tomorrow or the next day when this all sinks in. I'm a little worried about depression catching up with him someday as little chucks of his freedom and personality get chipped away like this. Of course I say this every time there's another little loss like this but somehow he manages to keep getting up every morning happy and singing at the top of his lungs. How does he do that---find acceptance of the failings age and serious disabilities? ©