About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Treasure Hunting in the Junk Drawer

Copyright © 2012 by Ralph Couey
 It was a rainy day, one to leave the motorcycle in the garage.  Feeling bored and restless, I decided to tackle my junk drawer. With a sense of adventure, I slid the drawer out and carried it over to the bed, where I had thoughtfully placed a junky towel to protect the frilly-quilty bedspread. I dumped the contents and went to work.
I dug through the flotsam, keeping some items, discarding others.  But near the bottom of the pile, I found a folded piece of notepaper. Opening it, I felt my heart skip. 
It was a letter from my mother.
Mom contracted cancer in the early '70's. But after a very extensive surgery, it seemed she would survive. Six years later, however, the cancer started again, spreading rapidly. She underwent chemo and radiation, but it was too late and on a sad September day in 1982, she passed away. 
Between the two illnesses, we were gifted with 6 more years with her. Doesn't seem like much, but during that time she saw both her children get married, and was able to cuddle her grandchildren. 
I was in the Persian Gulf when I got the news. What followed was an epic 48-hour journey back home to Missouri, arriving just in time for the funeral.  It was a hectic few days, and before I was able to fully comprehend the event, I was on my way back to my ship.  I had been back aboard about an hour when one of my shipmates brought me my accumulation of mail. In that pile of magazines, newspapers, and letters, was that note.
When you lose your mother, a light goes out inside. She was the one who loved us without question or condition. That care and devotion cannot be replaced. As author Erica Jong wrote, “Motherhood cannot finally be delegated. When a child needs a mother to talk to, nobody else but a mother will do.” When you lose her, nothing is ever the same.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Civil War: Events of October 1862

October 3rd saw the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi.  Union General William Rosecrans defended this vital rail junction from a series of attacks by a Confederate force under General Earl Van Dorn.  Initially successful, the southerners routed the first line of Union defense, a series of rifle pits dug during the siege of Corinth in April.  On the second day, Union counterattacks repulsed and drove the Rebels back.  But Rosecrans failed to pursue and Van Dorn's force escaped.

On October 5th, Van Dorn's retreating forces were attacked by Union forces under General Edward Ord in Hardeman and McNairy counties in Tennessee.  Ord drove the Southerners back five miles to Hatchie's Bridge, for which this battle was named.  Ord was then wounded and command was passed to General Stephen Hurlburt.  A hot fight developed around the bridge, but Van Dorn's scouts found another ford across the Hatchie River, which enabled them to escape destruction yet again.

Near Lavergne, TN, a Union force under General Negley met and defeated a combined force of Confederates, including General Nathan Forrest's cavalry.  The Rebels stood their ground for 30 minutes, then fled in disorder leaving behind most of their equipment and 175 prisoners.

Near Perryville, KY on October 8th, the South's Kentucky campaign culminated with a tactical victory by General Braxton Bragg over General Don Carlos Buell.  The South won the battle, but Bragg withdrew to Tennessee within a few days.  It was the largest battle fought in Kentucky, and in terms of the percentage of casualties to troops engaged, one of the bloodiest of the entire war.

On October 9th, J.E.B. Stuart circled McClellan's army for a second time.

On October 16th, Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of the Department of Tennessee.

On the 19th, Bragg moved his army through the Cumberland Gap, effectively escaping General Buell, who, allowing Bragg to escape three times, was relieved of command on the 24th.

Samuel Heintzelman relieved Nathaniel Banks of command of Union forces protecting Washington DC on October 26th.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

"We" and "They," and Being Fans

From Erik Cassano's Weblog
Copyright © 2012 by Ralph F. Couey

In all my travels through the 28 countries I’ve had the privilege to visit, I’ve spoken to people of many lands, cultures, and races.  In those interactions, I’ve learned a lot about them and the lives they lead.  They, in turn have taught me much about how Americans are perceived.  But the one word that surfaced most often which they felt characterized us best was “competitive.”
Yes, we are competitive.  There lies within us an irrepressible urge to be the best; to be Number One.  That, in part, explains our fixation with sports.  
We can be totally fixated on sports, semi-pro, pro, and college, to the exclusion of almost everything else.  One company recently ran an ad about a couple who had attended every home game of their college alma mater for several decades.  Nothing got in the way of their attendance.  When their daughter thoughtlessly planned her wedding for one of those October Saturdays…well, as the ad put it, “they really enjoyed the reception.”
We develop a strong emotional tie to particular teams. Some college teams because we went there.  Other teams because we live in the same city.  For some teams and some fans, that adoration approaches the religious.
Close to the end of the 2006 AFC Championship game, the Pittsburgh Steelers were driving for a touchdown that would salt the game away and send them once again into the Super Bowl.  Running back Jerome Bettis took the handoff and blasted into the line.  But the ball was stripped and the Colts’ Nick Harper grabbed it and sprinted towards the other end zone.  At a sports bar in the Pittsburgh metro, Steeler fan Terry O’Neill keeled over from a heart attack.