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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.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Things We Can't Fix

"Broken Hearted Toy" from www.wallpaperdisk.com

Copyright © 2013 by Ralph F. Couey
Written content only

A small child stands in front of me, wearing a sad face and the hint of a tear or two.  Holding up two small pudgy hands holding a favorite but broken toy and looking up into my eyes, a small, quivery voice says...

"Daddy, fix?"

For a father, this is a familiar scene.  Whatever other job we might be engaged in takes a back seat.  A small world has been crushed and we have been asked to repair it.

Sometimes its just a matter of snapping a plastic piece or two back in place.  Occasionally the job requires a more complicated approach, involving superglue, duct tape, or a couple of small screws and a battery.  The toy gets fixed, the small face lights up; a small world has been restored.  If you're lucky, the child will favor you with that singular look of love and discovery that has written all over it, "Gee, my Dad can fix anything!"

With a smile and a sense of love and fulfillment, we return to the task at hand.

Its an unfortunate truth that these requests diminish with the passage of time.  Over the years as their self-reliance grows their reliance on parents shrinks.  This is the way it should be, if we have done our jobs as parents.  While we're happy to see them grow up, we still mourn the loss of that special sense of purpose  called "Parenthood."

The path of life consists of stretches that are smooth and level, and others that are steep, rocky, and strewn with potholes.

And once in a while, we find that the path leads to a cliff.

Happy Ever Afters are something always wished for, but rarely received.  It's hard not to hope for one even fully well knowing what a fairy tale concept it is.  This is especially true about marriage.

The signs that a marriage is foundering are many and obvious.  When I was young, my friends and I would stand on a wooden bridge over a railroad track.  As the train approached, the bridge would begin to tremble.  The approaching engine would then roar beneath us, it's hot exhaust shooting up between the boards.  The rumbles of discord between two people are easy to detect, provided one is not deafened by delusion and false hopes.  But a troubled marriage consists of two people sliding down an ever-steepening track until one day when both face the realization that it's over.

This is painful for everyone connected.  Parents, friends, in-laws, all feel the pain.  But it is particularly painful for the children.  Their minds, still challenged in understanding simple ideas, can't comprehend the complexities of adult relationships.  They don't understand what has happened between Mommy and Daddy.  They feel their home disintegrating around them.  They just want it to stop.

The parents of the embattled couple struggle as well.  Inevitably, the blame falls to that familiar face in the mirror, the one that whispers, "If you had been a better parent..."

For this Dad, it was a strangely revealing moment.  My child had broken something.  For once, it was something I couldn't fix.

There is a harsh lesson here.  I learned that I cannot repair shattered lives.  Nor can I fix broken people, especially people who insist on remaining broken.

It's easy for a Dad to feel like Superman before his kids.  But it's incredibly painful to deal with the Kryptonite.
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