This is Michael's story...in his own words. He gave this to Kathy some time ago in hopes that when the time was near, all his family and friends might add their stories and remembrances. We intended to get this started when he was still with us...but he surprised us by leaving early. He did always love to surprise people! You will be missed Michael, by all who knew and loved you.
In his words......
MICHAEL H. COUZENS
August 4, 2000
Father: James Couzens II
Mother: Janet Anne Carey
Born: April 12, 1953
Graduated Seaholm High Birmingham, MI, June of 1971
Occupation: Captain/Able Bodied Seaman, US Merchant Marinar
I am the fourth child of a family of ten, with seven sisters and two other brothers. Our family was pretty much always divided between the older five kids and the younger five – mainly because of the age difference between Bob and Mary Beth.
I can’t speak for the others because we all have our own memories of growing up. But for me, well, I was born and raised a spoiled brat from Birmingham/Bloomfield and proud of it.
As a kid growing up, we spent every weekend out on the boat of Lake St. Clair – either at the Clinton River Boat Club or cruising through Georgian Bay and The North Channel, or maybe down in Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay or Cedar Point. That is to say nothing of the endless summers at Wabeek, which made for some of my fondest memories.
Ahh, now…Wabeek, what a grand place that was. The property consisted of 1200 acres with five lakes, 900 acres in pasture and 300 acres of properly manicured grounds with tennis courts, a baseball fields, bowling greens, rose gardens, horse stables and, of course, Great Grand Dad’s house (or “The Big House” as we called it). And there also was the Yaw’s house (Great Grand Dad’s sister), the White House and, of course, a swimming pool. Every Wednesday we had to empty the pool, scrubbed the algae off the walls, and refilled it from the lake. It was a job all the kids had to participate in and all loved it.
Every summer the Collins would come in from California. And the Carey’s would come in from Iowas to join us for our summer vacations. Ahh, what fun summers they were. It still brings a smile to my face just to think of those endless summer vacations at Wabeek. If I lacked anything when I was a kid, it was just because no one had invented it yet.
After graduating from high school in ’71 I took off to sail around the world on a 40-foot ketch. Well, I made it as far as Fort Lauderdale that first time, but since then my boats have taken me anywhere and everywhere I ever wanted to go. But the Great Lakes and Michigan have always been HOME for me.
Over the years, I’ve spent eight or nine summers fishing from California to Alaska, chasing tuna out to the International Date Line, flat fishing off the Coast of Maine and even sword fishing in the Caribbean. I’ve set sail through the West Indies, across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and from the Panama Canal to Hawaii. I’ve worked Push Boats through all the Inland Waters of Mid-America and all the Intracoastal Waterways from Maine to Alaska, with even a couple of years “Deep Sea” on Tugs in the Far East, Japan, Korea and Okinawa.
So, oh yeah, 30 years at Sea has given me a living most people can only dream of. It has definitely taken me on a journey of a lifetime, one that I’ll never forget. If you ask me, a sailor’s life is as close as you get to the old time cowboys, because we’re always “A day late and a dollar short and saddles bags full of yesterday”, but I’ve enjoyed it all. And I wouldn’t change a thing. But one of these days, I really will settle down, buy an island or a piece of one anyways…and watch the rest of the world go ‘round. SOMEDAY, someday!!!
I’ll always remember what my Father said to me the last time I ever saw him. He said, “Michael, thank you. Today you made me feel like a Rockefeller.” I just looked back at him and smiled and said, “You’re welcome. You always made me feel like I was one.” He passed away almost three months later to the day. But I was so glad that I was given the opportunity to thank him for the life he had given me. It is a chance we receive everyday, yet somehow we never get around to doing it, because there is always a tomorrow.