This I Believe

KUHF-Houston Public Radio’s “This I Believe” with Ken Gould

For the last dozen years or so, Ken, his wife and their two children have called northwest Houston home. Ken has noticed that he’s acting more and more like his own father, especially when dealing with his own teenage son. It’s the “circle of life” and it’s the focus of Ken’s essay for KUHF’s This I Believe.

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When Ken was growing up, his father was in the military, so the family lived in many different places. Ken says that was a wonderful experience, but he wanted a different experience for his own children, so once Ken and his wife Maria moved to Houston a dozen years ago, they decided to settle down. Now that the kids are ready to move off to college, they’ll explore the world and make their own mark in it. But he says no matter where they end up, they’ll take with them an appreciation for good “Tex-Mex.”

Ken is a local business development manager for a national paper recycling operation. He says it’s nice to work for an organization that gives back to its community. Ken’s wife, Maria, is an artist and sculptor. She also teaches art to 6th grader in Magnolia. Their children are twins, a girl and a boy.

In his essay for KUHF’s This I Believe, Ken shares a personal family experience that taught him a valuable lesson about life and a greater appreciation for his own father.
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“I believe in simple moments that connect the generations together.

I am 14 years old, sitting with my father in lawn chairs in our backyard, watching a summer thunderstorm building. Our sweat from just mowing the lawn slowly cools. After several minutes of comfortable silence; and looking out at heat lightning popping in the distance, Dad says;

“You know if I was struck dead right now by the lightning from that coming storm — you should not weep or be sad. I am 48 years old. I’ve led a full life. I’ve known the love of a good, truly beautiful woman. Raised a family together. Been off to war — and through luck and the grace of god, returned whole in mind and body. I have helped many people in my career as a doctor. I traveled all over the world, fished some of the great rivers and spent marvelous days outside in the woods. Mind you I don’t wish to die right now, but everything after this point is just gravy.”

I love the way Dad summed up his life so succinctly; with such appreciation, and then gently shared it with me. That moment resonates somewhere marrow deep in me.

Now at age 47, I sit in the summer shade with my teenage son and my Dad. Dad tires easily, sometimes he walks unsteadily on his new knee and his hands tremble slightly. My son is tall and strong for his age. Our yard work is finally done and the sweat slowly cools.

A summer thunderstorm is rumbling noisily in the distance. Lightening flickers sharp and yellow. The air suddenly shifts – a freshening, ozone smell rides in on the breeze. Dad goes in the house to clean up and fetch drinks.

Turning towards my son, I say;

“You know lad, if I was struck dead right now by lightning from those thunder bumpers — you should not be sad in any way. I’ve lived almost half a century and led a full life. I’ve known the love of a wonderful woman — beautiful inside and out. Together we’ve been blessed to watch you and your sister grow up. Through good fortune, I have not known war first-hand. I’ve had a good career as a businessman. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve flown planes, climbed mountains and fished some of the great rivers. I’ve spent perfect days hiking and camping, lots of them with you. Mind you — I don’t wish to die just this minute, but at this point in the game, well — it’s all just extra innings. My life is rich and full. I’m thankful. Each day seems to me a gift.”

Dad brings out lemonade from the kitchen. We sit together watching the storm come in.

I believe in simple moments that connect the generations together.”

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