Dad and Uncle Mark promptly started volunteering at the Life Saving Crew, our home town Ambulance Service. Uncle Mark lost interest after a while, but Dad stuck with it. There was a semi-hilarious news article that my grandmother saved from that time. For whatever reason, there was a half a page of coverage of a car accident. The picture accompanying the article was of my dad and uncle giving CPR (and whatever else they were doing) to one of the victims. The caption called it "The Monroe Act."
(We put that picture up at the funeral. About 75% of the old-timers that mentioned it said something along the lines of "Oh, wow. That guy never had a prayer. How quick did they kill him?" God, how I love Cop/Firefighter humor.)
When I was born, Mom was the bread winner. She had a really nice job doing something I'm not sure I understand to this day. She was a histologist at a lab here in town. I understand she hated it, but it paid well. In the meantime, Dad was working on his EMT certificate, and was Mr. Mom. Each day he'd get me up, feed me, bathe me, play with me, put me down for naps, the whole nine yards. The only thing he couldn't do for me was comb my already copious hair. Each day at mom's lunch hour, we'd drive out to The Lab for mom to comb my hair.
Most importantly, he'd read to me. Back then, he wasn't aware of any studies that said reading out loud to small children (reading anything!) would make them smarter, or learn easier. He was just studying. He was reading me his EMT school books.
When I was starting school, he'd transitioned from Volunteer paramedic into being a full time fire fighter. Mom was staying home with me and Anna. When I was going into 5th grade, dad transitioned into a PTO position. This was a short-lived program that cross-trained Firefighters and Police Officers to do each others jobs. It came with a SIGNIFICANT raise in pay, and incidentally, being a police officer had been what my dad had started to go to school for in PA.
At 27 and 1/2 years, Dad retired. He went back to school and got a nursing degree. He spent the last six or seven years as a nurse in a dermatologists office. He said it was the best job he'd ever had: Nights, weekends, and holidays off. Every one of them.
Tomorrow, my sisters and I will be attending a memorial service at the Crew. They are honoring my father with a posthumous permanent spot, essentially a picture in the conference room. Many of my dad's best and longest friends are already up there. Whatever else his faults, he had a life of service, always trying to make the world a little better.
That's my dad. Saving lives, fighting fires, getting the bad guys off the streets, and finally, checking out that rash. Here. Have some Cortizone.
I miss you dad.