About Me

Pearl City, HI, United States

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fathers Day

"I'm a father.  That's what matters most.
Nothing matters more."
--Gordon Brown

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

I remember clearly the first time I held our first newborn.  I was in awe at the power of life as it lay cradled in my arms, and feeling absolutely unqualified for the task that lay ahead.  I remembered my Dad, and how easy he made fatherhood seem.  He was always confident and resolute.  Never once did I ever see him unsure of anything.  His decisions were perfect, and he always had the right words and the correct solutions.  He was a man of immense dignity and a commanding presence that was always in the house, even when he wasn't.  I thought about all that as my new son stared up at me, and hoping that I would be to him at least a fraction of what my Dad was to me.  

Fathers have a compelling influence on their children's lives.  That's the way it's supposed to be.  For a girl, if she does not get the attention, affection, and support from her father, she will later look for that in other men, in very destructive ways.  Much of the confidence a young woman has will have been instilled by her father.  And when she chooses a young man, chances are he will have some of her father in him.  It is interesting to note that Robert E. Lee had three daughters, none of whom married.  As one said much later, "None of them, in terms of character, courage, and inner strength came close to father."

Boys grow up (although some women would dispute that) and at some point, we become men.  That moment of transition is different for all of us.  For me, it wasn't graduating high school, leaving home to be on my own, or even getting married.  In that moment in the presence of my infant son, for whose life I was now totally responsible, I realized that my childhood was over.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Facing Life's Consistency of Change

"If you fall off of a cliff without a parachute,
there's nothing left to do but enjoy the breeze 
and admire the view on the way down."
--Ralph F. Couey

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey 

I've been retired now for about a year and a half, and looking back, I can see what a significant time of transition it has been.  Northern Virginia had been home for about five years as I finished out my career.  While we hated the traffic and the incessant political miasma that permeated everything, I did find for myself a certain kind of peace.

We had family close by, in fact sharing our home for over three years.  It was never anything but a joy to have them around, especially the golden hours spent bonding with three of our grandchildren.  My work, while difficult and challenging, was a source of great satisfaction.  I was privileged to work around some of the finest and most intelligent, dedicated, and committed professionals it's ever been my honor to know.  So when it became apparent that in terms of ending that profession, the moment had arrived, it was accompanied by a certain sadness and the feeling of leaving something important undone.

The time between then and now has been filled by a whole new set of experiences.  Accompanying my wife on her travel nurse assignments to the biting cold of a Colorado winter, the incredible heat of a summer in southern Arizona, to a delightful sojourn in Southern California.  I've returned to the workforce, donning the red and khaki for Target.  My body rebelled at the long hours spent on my feet, but eventually adjusted to a certain level of tolerance.  The best part of that experience, alongside the extra income, has been the opportunity to converse with people; listen to them tell of their lives.  I have with great interest spoken to high school graduates who were ending their childhood and preparing to embark on the first real adventure of their lives, and their first years as adults standing on their own.  I've also seen the joy of their parents as they revel in their children's accomplishments, yet feeling the wistful sadness of the knowledge that they've done all they could do to prepare their offspring and must now let go.  They will no longer be under their constant supervision, care, and protection and must rely on their faith in these new adults to get them through the coming challenges.

It is time of transition for many, reminding us that as much as we resist it, change really is the only constant in life.