It’s been five years since we last spent an afternoon with our great friend, Jeff. For those of you newer to the blog, Jeff was a fellow Firefighter and Engineer who died after a three year battle with ALS. He was diagnosed at an extremely young age, and at the time, his son Tanner wasn’t even two years old. It was a transformative time in our lives, as well as for the department…and continues to serve as a guiding example for how people should treat each other. When I think back on that time, I am still amazed at how a group of almost 70 ‘co-workers’ came together to do everything we could to help out just a little.
One of the things that our time with Jeff brought to us was a set of life-long friends. Cyrilla, Tanner, and now Todd show us on a daily basis a courage that is difficult to imagine and a strength that for most of us, is hard to summon even occasionally. There is also a group of guys (Brian, Geoff, Jeff, Mike, and Jay) that were originally bound by work, but have since been bound by experience and love that continue to serve as a daily example of what friendship and support should really mean. It’s a great honor to have been part of Jeff’s life, to still be friends with those guys, and to still have Cyrilla, Tanner, and Todd to turn to.
This letter – written by Jeff – was published here on the blog before, but I invite you to read it again/for the first time and take it for what it’s worth: great advice.
June 29, 2005
Brothers and Sisters,
I would like to thank every single member of the fire department, and impress upon you how much your support has meant to me and my family. Without this support, the last year would have been incredibly difficult. But with everyone’s help, it has been easier than I ever expected. If you aren’t aware, approximately one year ago was my last shift, and last week I received my final paycheck. The ability to go this long between those events shows the incredible sacrifice made by everyone and I thank you for it.
Please keep in mind that it’s not the fire trucks, fire gear, or buildings that matter…it’s the people; and when it counted most, the department and the town stood behind me and my family. I wish that everyone could take care of each other the way that you have taken care of me. Treat each other like family: if someone needs help, offer it. If someone needs criticism, be constructive. If someone wrongs you, tell them. If you make a mistake, admit it. If someone needs knowledge that you posses, teach them. Most issues will take care of themselves if we incorporate this way of thinking.
“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” -Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
Remember to pick your battles, choose your words, and when you have doubts or conflicts, keep in mind that you have your health; and despite what you are feeling at the moment, you do have the greatest job in the world.
I will see you around and everyone is welcome in my home. I am still the same person, I just talk a lot less.