First off, let me say that this is NOT a sad post. So please, don't think it is! I'll try to keep it brief, but I just have to write about this.
Today I got to attend a fireman's funeral. The fireman was Captain Paul W. Dunn, shown above with his wife Jan and their little dog Harvey. I took this photo of them just over two months ago, about the same time Paul, at the age of 70, went on medical leave from the fire department because of brain cancer that had progressed to the point where he could not work any longer. Since his diagnosis early this year, he and Jan have shared with us their courage in the face of fear, their joy in the face of sorrow, their ability to laugh and find the humor in life's sadder annoyances, and their very great faith and love. Over the past two days everyone has talked about Paul's good nature, even temper, great sense of humor, devotion to the department and to his family -- in other words, we all agreed that he was a good man.
Again, I don't want to get sappy --Paul wouldn't appreciate it at all! But today I got to attend a fireman's funeral. From what I witnessed over the past week or two, let me tell you all -- THERE is a fraternity. It's not just the stuff of movies -- it's real life. And I wondered, why ARE firemen like that? Then I thought about what they do for a living. Right off the top of my head, I can't think of any other occupation quite like the job of a fireman. They MUST become a team, a brotherhood -- their very lives depend on each other every single day that they go to work. And the honor that they bestow upon one of their own is something to see. I can't begin to describe the ceremony, but there was a 21-gun salute, a fly over by a local medial emergency helicopter, bagpipes and drums (including the solitary bagpiper who turned and walked away across the cemetery, still playing Amazing Grace), a last dispatch call to Paul on all emergency radios, sirens from fire trucks -- it just goes on. It was a beautiful memorial to a good man. It was a celebration of a good life.
So, this is to say "thank-you" to all the firemen, policemen, emergency workers, soldiers, and all the others who I can't think of to name, but who risk their own safety for the rest of us. We should say thank you more often. This is also to say "thank-you" to all the good nurses out there -- the oncology floor is a tough one and the nurses at St. Mary's were great. I know at least one of you readers out there is a pediatric oncology nurse (Marta!) and I don't know how you do it. Thank-you!
Again -- this isn't a sad post! It is a celebration! There will be some art coming along in the next few days.
But TODAY I got to attend a fireman's funeral.