Alta states 

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It was exactly the trip I'd been looking for. And Wendy, as usual, had given me her blessing. It was what I loved the most about her. Didn't matter what I proposed - didn't matter how crazy or eccentric or dangerous the project - Wendy rarely let her personal concerns get in the way of my plans.

And this one was a doozy...

On the cusp of what I considered to be a life-changing double-knee replacement operation, I was blithely trying to convince my dear wife that a five-week jaunt in the European Alps was exactly what her kooky husband needed.

"It'll be my last kick at the adventure can," I'd argued. "My last chance to ski my favourite mountains with all my own body parts in place."

Wendy had just laughed. She, of course, wouldn't be coming along. Her role would be to stay behind and cover the home front.

"You're going to be careful, right?" she'd said, eying me just a little bit sceptically. She knew all-too-well the kind of activities I was drawn to in the mountains of Europe. Knew that my knees were totally shot and that my margin for error had been drastically reduced. Realized too that my stupid male pride wouldn't allow me to fully acknowledge that little bit of annoying reality.

"Of course I'll be careful," I'd answered glibly. "I'm always careful."

She didn't reply right away. The subject was a bit of a sore one between us. She thought I was too old now to be doing what I was doing. Thought I should grow up already and embrace my half-century with grace. But I couldn't envision anything else for myself. The mountains were my life; mountain storytelling was my vocation. Finally she smiled. "You just make sure you call me from time-to-time to let me know you're still alive..."

I nodded happily. Hugged her for all I was worth. "You know I will," I told her. "I'll call you every day if you want." And that was that.

It was the same deal we'd had for years. While hubby gallivanted around the globe writing his Snoweater stories for various magazines and newspapers, Wendy was happy to stay at home and keep the hearth fire burning. Besides, it's not like she sat in a rocking chair, pining away for me. Her children, her garden, her friends - her work with Kidsport and the B.C. Games Society and Legacies Now - kept her plenty busy.

And I certainly didn't take her role for granted. She was one of the best mums I knew - and I sang her praises everywhere I went. Alas, what I did take for granted was that she'd be there for me when I got back...

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