By Rebecca Witzke
My father, Gust Cougias, has been telling me stories since I was a small child. Most were make-believe adventures that would take my imagination to places I could never go to on my own. My father believes that storytelling is the oldest form of connecting lives together and I agree with him!
For my dad’s 80th birthday, my cousin helped me make my dad a hand-made book. When I presented it, I asked him to continue writing his stories in an effort to share them with others. Since that birthday 13 years ago, my dad has written hundreds of short stories and worked with various book publishers. His stories have been featured in various newspapers and have been given to children all over the world. Yet nothing came to fruition until Ageless Authors.
Let’s fast forward to September 2017. My mother (age 88) received a diagnosis of bladder cancer at the same time my husband’s job was transferred from Chicago to Dallas. During the relocation, I unexpectedly came across a local newspaper with an article about Ageless Authors. I shared the details with my father. He confirmed a desire to enter and responded, “All we can do is try.”
His favorite type of stories to tell are those from his time in the Navy, so he entered the Military Memories category. We agreed to use a story about the Seabee’s that he gave to a church group.
This submission became a family affair. I emailed a draft to my brother in Las Vegas. I remembered a detail of my dad’s experience and my mom assisted, ensuring the accuracy of his experience. My dad gave his final approval for submission. Six days after his 94th birthday, on his behalf, I submitted his entry.
In a very real way, Ageless Authors has impacted my family’s life. My parents have blessed me with a legacy of faith that is beyond a gift of what any parent can bestow on their children. My dad’s tenacity to share his God-given talents with others has been a model for me.
In my search on his computer, I came across a very long list of publishers that included notes from his pursuits. I even found a mystery that he started writing. It was so good, I couldn’t wait to get to the next page – then it stopped. Incomplete. When I asked him about it he replied, “I haven’t figured out the ending yet!” His pursuit to become published has been relentless.
Some have identified my dad as a ‘dream chaser.’ Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with chasing dreams. For my dad, it’s kept his life interesting and he’s brought joy to the lives of many. Ageless Authors could be his last attempt at becoming published. As I am able, I choose to help my dad in his pursuit. I believe in a sovereign God who doesn’t waste any circumstance in my life. Who knew I would learn of Ageless Authors as I waited for a safety inspection on my car. I’ve appreciated this incredible opportunity to work with my dad to share his gift with others.
Thank you for the work of Ageless Authors. We appreciate its mission to highlight the work and creativity of seniors. As I’ve shared updates with him, it’s about the only thing that raises his eyebrows these days (which is a good thing). Then he responds, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”