The folks at Crystal Brook, the senior center where we live, were excited when the pandemic started. One of the first rules the government put out was here would be no more shaking hands. Shaking hands is a very irritating problem for the folks at Crystal Brook. But they soon found out the rule didn’t apply to the more matured senior citizens – their hands still shook just as bad as ever.

But there is good in all things if you look for it. This problem helps them when they brush their teeth.

As my mother grew older, her hands began to shake. I was over to her house one day. She was getting me a cup of tea. As she picked up the cup, her hands were shaking. She had the cup in a saucer. I could hear the cup rattling as she walked across the room. I smiled and said, “I like to hear my mother’s bells.”

She started crying. I jumped up, held her and said, “I’m sorry. I meant no harm.”

She smiled and said, “Those are tears of joy, not sadness.”

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My mother was truly a pioneer type lady.

We were hunting one time in Washington state. We were coming out of the Blue Mountains, heading for home after a week of hunting. My folks were leading the way in a Ford Model A. My brothers and I were in a pickup following.

As we came around a corner on a little mountain road, there were two bull elk fighting. They were in a small clearing. One of the elk was a large six-pointer. My dad jumped out of the car to shoot it. The ground was not yet frozen and was muddy. As my dad shot the elk, he slipped and fell. The gun hit the ground and went off. The bullet went through the back window of the car, splintering glass all over my mother.

While this was going on, the big elk went down, but the small one was mad from fighting, turned and was running at my father, who was still on the ground.

My mother had jumped out of the car, holding her head because the glass went all over her. But the bullet did not hit her. Seeing her holding her head, my dad thought he had hit her and was sitting on the ground holding his head in his hands.

The bull elk was still coming straight at them.

My mother picked up the gun and started shooting at the elk. I don’t remember how many times she shot that elk, but several. The elk hit the ground and slid in the mud. We paced it off and that elk lay just 12 feet from my dad.

My mother calmly laid the gun up against the car, let out a big sigh and said, “Thank the Lord, but I know he had to stop sometime.”

A storyteller, John Zentz, 87, will share a blend of fact and fiction in his bimonthly column. Some tales he’s lived through, some he’s been told. Zentz and his family are longtime Hubbard County residents. He has a picture of his grandmother and grandfather, seven times removed, sitting on a porch in Park Rapids.