Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dear Sons: Be Good, Kind Men

Dear Sons:

(Letter #26)

It's been a long time since I've added one of these letters to the blog, but it was something I was thinking about and had to put it down on paper (or computer screen - LOL.)

I've many times tried to impress upon you the concept of being kind and charitable and making the world a better place. I've brought you along to help when I've volunteered or recruited you to help out with different projects. I guess I have done an okay job at it. But I rarely acknowledge the best example of leading you to being good men - and that's your dad.

You guys aren't babies anymore. You're growing into teens and adults and while I spent the most time with you as babies and toddlers and preschoolers, trying to teach you right from wrong, and how to read and how to navigate the world, the tables have turned. You'd rather be around dad most of the time now and that's completely understandable. Father's have an equal or more profound effect on their sons as their mothers do.

I really sometimes forget about so many good things that your father teaches you about the world and about being a good person. After all, he's a firefighter and paramedic and he literally helps people every single day that he goes to work. I can't say that I do. Sometimes just in the grind of going about the day, I truly forget how extraordinary that is. He cares for patients and is there for people at their worst moments. I just got a message from a childhood friend last week who said that she was transported to the hospital by him - and she said how comfortable he made her and how his humor helped her, even though she was in pain. Every once in a while I encounter people who will say that he helped one of their family members and how grateful they were for what he did.

I am always happy when I get to hear such things as I never get to see the person he is at work.

When he's caring for a cancer patient who is going downhill and has to return to the hospital or for a young child who is having a seizure or for an elderly veteran who knows death is imminent and who just wants to fade a way at home, but has a family insisting that he be taken to a hospital that he knows he'll never make it home from.

I remember one man who was speaking at an event we were at and in front of the crowd acknowledged your dad, who happened to respond to a call for his wife when she was not breathing. Even thought the man lost his wife, he expressed how grateful he was to your dad for the care to both of them and for doing what was within his power to try and save her.

And although more often than not patients in critical situations where CPR has to be administered and equipment has to be used to try to restart the heart, don't make it - sometimes they do. Many years ago your dad played a part in saving a high school athlete who had collapsed at a game due to cardiac arrest.

He's also witnessed a lot of loss of life. Many are so tragic that I can't imagine how he goes on after witnessing such traumatic scenes. But he does.

His influence hasn't just spread to you. At many points over the years, our place has become the hang-out house for your friends. And sometimes it seems they are here as much because there is a dad around as to play video games and scarf down grilled hamburgers. A few of them have wonderful dads of their own, but some of them have enjoyed hanging out here because they have not had a father in their lives at all or very little. Somehow kids and teens (and even young adults) are drawn to him. When he'd show up for a field trip or class party at school he'd come home wondering why the kids always wanted to come up and give him a hug.

Among the good things he's done that make so me proud are:
-When he would take you boys out to pick up garbage around town just because he noticed it needed to be done
-When he would do yard work for elderly neighbors without them ever asking - and sometimes without ever notice he did it
-When we went for breakfast and the waitress was an older lady who was limping as she walked. He said he felt horrible having her wait on us and he gave her a $20 tip on a $16 breakfast bill.
-When he thought he heard a cat crying and followed the sound, which landed him a block and a half away where an elderly lady was in her home crying for help after falling down stairs. She had already been there since the early morning when he found her that afternoon.
-When he has helped with our town's annual festival and when he noticed something needed to be done, he did it (and had you boys help with it) - like building a sign for the front entrance and moving items and hanging signs.
-When we went to dinner in Edinburgh, Indiana near Camp Atterbury and a group of four soldiers came in to eat in uniform..and dad paid for their entire meal just before we made our way out the door.
-When he's volunteered to clean up at the Izaak Walton League and brought you kids along to help just because he saw that it needed to be done.

Sometimes he gets crabby. Sometimes he gets frustrated and decides that overall he just doesn't like people. He's not the only one. But those moments don't last long. He goes back to helping and taking care of others. And I don't always take notice of all those times. But I hope you boys do. And I hope that you're learning to see those kind things he does and that they help you grown into good, kind men.