America’s true heroes

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Dad will be 83 at the end of this month. By anyone’s standards, that’s getting up there. Reaching such a lofty age not only poses certain problems for the senior citizen, but also for their children. Just what gift do you get someone who’s been around so long?

My dad has been given every birthday card known to man. His closet is so full of clothes, shoes, and coats, nothing else can be squeezed in there. Shelves in his house sag under the weight of family pictures and stuff gathered from a lifetime of memories and trips.

So on his birthday this year what did I give my father? Something money couldn’t buy, yet something priceless. For a change, I gave him advice.

He called this morning to tell me the story about how, two days earlier, he’d made the trip to the mail box. Inside the box wasn’t just the mail but a hornet’s nest. Being the resourceful person he is, he sprayed the nest with hornet killer. He decided to give the spray a day to work before retrieving his mail. The next day he reached into the mail box and got multiple stings on his hand. I guess some of the hornets weren’t around for the initial gassing.

After jumping around, cursing, and spraying the remaining hornets, he retrieved the mail and went inside. He didn’t think about removing the large ring on the finger that received three stings and was already starting to swell. This morning he casually mentioned that his hand was now the size of his foot. This is where the advice came in.

I immediately told him to go to the local fire department. They have special tools. He had to have the ring cut off or it could cause all kinds of problems. After the pause, he asked, “The fire department can cut off rings? I didn’t know that they did something like that.”

I explained that members of the fire department don’t just put out fires anymore. We are trained to respond to just about any medical emergency. If someone is breaking into your house, you call the police. For every other emergency, people call the fire department.

Whether you walk into the firehouse or call them, firefighters can cut rings off swollen fingers, splint broken bones, and treat cardiac events. “And if you have an allergic reaction to those bees, we can treat that also and then transport you to the hospital.”

Dad was dumbfounded. In the last 23 years I’ve been a firefighter, he never really knew what my job entailed. Off to the fire department he went and in less than two hours he called me back. He said the firefighters soaked his hand in ice and cut off the ring. Afterwards he went out to the local Italian restaurant and bought pizza for the whole bunch. Now if only he could find someone to fix his mail box. It seems in the hurry to get to the fire department, he ran it over.

Again I said, “We do that.” I explained that he could walk into any firehouse in the country and talk to a firefighter or get the name of a firefighter who does just about anything as a side job. “The people at the stations are firefighters and medics first, but in their time off they do other things. Some are carpenters, plumbers, electricians, builders, real estate agents, and nurses. More than likely the ER techs at your local hospital are actually firefighters. If you have a need, chances are there’s a firefighter that can do it. We’re a big family and we help out others. That’s what family does.”

Dad answered, “Son, to me, they’re heroes.”

As I hung up the phone, I realized something. Through any emergency, my dad has always been there for me. After 9/11, all firefighters are now called heroes. I contend that any parent who takes care of their spouse and children, who is there in times of need, and helps to pick them up when they fall is actually a hero.

All of my life, Dad’s been a hero to me. Now even more so, swollen fingers and all. On this the anniversary of 9/11, call the true heroes of America. Call your parents. And tell them thanks for being a hero to you.

login to post comments | Rick Ryckeley's blog

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
dawn69's picture
Submitted by dawn69 on Fri, 09/11/2009 - 12:04am.

I think your dad was trying to tell you that to him - you are a hero. Smiling

"That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet."
- Emily Dickinson

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.