Marking the Important Moments in life with Guns

This weekend I was present for two conversations about guns that really said a lot about Alaska to me.

I was at the hospital bedside of Charles, a dear elderly man in our church. He suffered from terminal cancer, but it was his kidneys that put him in the hospital right before Thanksgiving. Friday he started to really perk up and was his usual comical self. Saturday, he was in and out of it but we figured he just needed rest. His wife Rachel had gone home to shower for the first time in three days. While Rachel was out, a call came in from one of his sons. We held the phone to his ear as they talked briefly. We heard him mumble “You get all the guns, except for your mom’s .38.” That nearly cracked me up, in spite of the gravity of the situation. When Rachel returned, Charles was sleeping and we relayed his comments to her. She said she didn’t want the .38, she wanted the .45. This from Rachel, a long-haul trucker who’s 82 years old and maybe 100 pounds. Charles heard us discussing it and roused from sleep to tell her which gun she should have. They agreed that the 9 mm Glock was her favorite and easier for her handle. Charles passed away the next morning.

Also this weekend, I had lunch with a new friend who’s only been in Alaska about 10 months. She’s living in an apartment and her next door neighbor, a man about her age, has been getting friendly. They chum around some evenings and he’s helping her learn to play guitar. She said she’s been clear with him that she’s interested in just being friends. She said recently she mentioned something they’d done for fun to her co-worker, a long-time Alaskan named Margaret. She said that he’d taken her to his favorite spots to target shoot. Margaret said, “He took you shooting? That was a date.” My friend said, oh, no, they were just friends. Margaret said, nope, it was a date. And if she got a gun from him for Christmas that was an engagement present.

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