What is it about the rain that gives us absolute permission to do nothing? I love the rain. Perhaps it is the rhythmic pounding with impromptu hiccups created by unexpected wind gusts that induces a catatonic trance. It is deliciously unpredictable much like the impulsive urgency to finish a great movie or completely listen to an unfamiliar song just because it touches something inside of you. It is intellectually hypnotic and sensually intoxicating. But no matter how enticing the call to rainy-day meditation, there are those who can never surrender to its lure – those with a calling to serve.
Now, there are many different kinds of service champions and I applaud them all. Today I am specifically drawn to those whose ultimate calling is to save lives. What speck of DNA emerges in some people that drives them to run to the needs of strangers without even an ounce of hesitation? Think about that. While I am sometimes just downright lucky to keep myself emotionally afloat, these brave souls lay aside their needs, their insecurities, and often times their own loved ones to answer a call for help.
They are a rare breed of people, cut from a different cloth. How do I know? I have such heroes in my immediate family. My oldest nephew is the Captain of a Fire Department servicing a highly populated suburb in Northern Indiana. From kid to adult, he dreamt of being a Fireman. And for him, it was not just a childhood fantasy. He has spent most of his adult life walking toward danger. Amid all the fortitude, stamina, desire, and heartbreak it takes to succeed in this profession, he manages to find balance. God knows I do not know how he does it. The stories he tells can bring tears and laughter through perspective . . . and humor.
A few years ago, he had me and a group of friends in stitches. He was relaying a story of a hysterical 2:00 a.m. caller requesting immediate medical help. You must remember that all calls are treated the same – as emergencies. This was not a first-time call for this person - in fact, they were on a first-name basis - but fire and ambulance crews alike hit the ground running. While I cannot recall the exact details of this event (I was laughing too hard), the storyline does not change. The caller complained of extreme foot pain. Trained professionals race to treat the injury. Details are sketchy but it seems said patient has stubbed their toe with no blood, broken bones, or major bruising visible. When asked, “When did this happen?” the patient responds, “About four days ago.” While silently brooding, “Seriously, you stub your toe, and when you decide you need medical attention you call at 2:00 a.m. in the middle of the night four days later,” he just smiles and reassures that all looks okay, and no hospital transport is needed. Tell me that does not take a rare breed of an individual.
But all stories are not humorous. Sometimes lives are lost and not even the best or bravest could impact the outcome. It is a burden these human wonders live with every day of their lives.
And then there is his daughter, my great-niece, a new 2021 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. This young woman, intent on making a difference, has spent her collegiate summers working in the emergency room of a local hospital. How many college students do you know who would rush to the side of a mangled crash victim by choice? If I am sounding over-dramatic, that was my intent. I am not one of these chosen few, even though an old proverb suggests “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” My nephew, and his amazingly supportive bride, are nurturing an orchard.
I am proud, humbled, and forever grateful for those who sideline their needs to help others. While I have fantasized about feigning a fire emergency just to see those hunks called firefighters show up on my doorstep, their time is much too valuable. If you know some of these heroes, thank them. If you need any of these heroes, thank them. And if you stub your toe in the middle of the night, grab an ice pack, and let them rest. Life will go on. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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