Too Soon Old
At Vince’s funeral last week there was a special place designated for the retirees and their spouses to sit. Wives smiled at one another. The guys shook hands, clapped shoulders, and began to question (in whispers, of course)…”What are you up to now? What do you do to stay busy? You still live in…”
And most would agree they no longer knew most of the now active, much younger firefighters from the department who filled the rows ahead of us.
Even during the dinner afterwards, the retirees stretched along both sides of a long table. Wives played the ‘remember when’ game, while the men shook hands again, laughed at the same old stories, and grieved the loss of one so young. All wondering who among them would be missing the next time they had the opportunity to be together.
To witness the changing of the honor guard, to hear the bagpipes, and to listen to the ‘last alarm’, tears the hearts of these men to pieces, with both extreme pride and deep, deep sorrow.
Those rows of retirees represented a time when their jobs meant much more than a paycheck. It was even more than a career choice.
Those wrinkled faces, and slower footsteps represented a commitment to one another, a pride for and loyalty to their jobs, and a way of life…
that is still evident in their lives today.