Hello everybody, it has been awhile since we last posted so I decided since I had some free time for the first time in a while I would try to throw something together. Here lately I have had a little something on my mind so I will share that with you all.
In November of 2000 I was beginning my career in the fire service as an explorer with my local volunteer department, my older brother had just joined up as a member of the department, and my now sister-in-law was somewhere along that time frame of joining too. My brother and I were working on following our dad’s footsteps and excited to do so. Dad was so proud that we were joining up and wanted to do what he does.
One night on a mutual aid fire, while I was still an explorer, I got the opportunity to do some firefighting with my dad. The fire had occurred at a local lumberyard and they had knocked the fire down but were digging through the hot spots. They decided it wouldn’t hurt to let me get in and dig with them… I am glad they did. You see, that was the first and last time I ever got to do that with my dad, my brothers never got the chance. Not because he passed, but because he received some terrible news and diagnosis with his health and was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. You can bet that I have never forgotten that night though.
Some time had passed and the doctors decided to do a bone marrow test to see if the cancer had spread to it or not. The day they did the test they took a piece of bone from his backside, they also told him no more firefighting. NO MORE…. WTF!!! That night there was a large carpet store fire across town. He asked me to drive him over there so he could at least watch. Before we arrived they had called for mutual aid from my volunteer department. When we arrived there he told me, “ Get your stuff on and go do your thing!” I did, but then later I returned to check on him. I found him sitting on the hood of a police car and could tell before I got there that there were huge tears in his eyes. That is another night I will never forget.
Having to see him sit there and know he could never do again what he loved so much was probably one of the hardest things I will ever see in my entire life. If you have never experienced it with family, a co-worker, close friend, whatever, I hope you never have to. As you all know we live, eat, breathe, and sleep fire. That was he also.
Another issue that hurt was he was told because the chemo would weaken his immune system that he could no longer go into the schools and teach fire prevention classes. That’s his job; he is the Public Fire/Life Safety Education Coordinator. So, BOOM, everything comes to a halt in the blink of an eye. He however overcame this. Kicked its ass!
After he beat it he was released to start teaching in schools again, could respond to fires (without active firefighting), could get back into a groove. That is what he has done too. Has had a few health issues here and there but has been to work nearly every day even when he was feeling a little under the weather. The man is unstoppable. The day he got released was a memorable day.
The last memory I want to share happened just the other day; last shift actually. In October I was hired at the department dad works at, the department I had grown up around. Until last shift I hadn’t caught a working fire yet. But, that all ended the other night. Right as we were preparing dinner at the station we caught a structure fire. We responded, put the fire out, and as I exited the building to doff my equipment the first person I seen standing at the bottom of the steps was my dad, smiling at me with a smile that was full of pride, joy, and love. You guessed it; I will never forget that.
Not everybody is as fortunate as I am to get to work with his or her father, mother, brother, etc. If you are however, never forget the memories you get to make together on the job. There will come a day when you won’t be able to anymore. I just started and dad will have 30 years on April 1st. he has no plans of retiring soon but I know he will one day which means I have to be making the best of time and get in as many memories as I can with him on the job.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and letting me share this with you.