Our family has been blessed lately by the kindness of strangers. Particularly complete strangers who volunteer their time at local fire departments. It has opened my eyes to the wonderful men and women who make up the fire service in our communities. After a short but sweet letter was sent to local fire departments inquiring about the availability of a department patch for my 4-year-old wannabe firefighter's firehouse themed bedroom, we have received an outpouring of love and kindness from people in the fire service. For months now, Nathaniel has received letters from firefighters explaining how they, too, loved firefighting when they were his age and grew up to be real firemen. He's received patches from nearly 35 organizations. One gentleman wrote a letter and told a story about his 5-year-old twin sons who didn't quite take to firefighting like their Daddy so he sent Nate a collection of patches he'd saved over the years. We received packages with fire safety materials, key chains, stickers, pencils, calendars. You name it! The outpouring of generosity has been amazing. As you may recall from reading this, our local fire district even drove the entire fire company over to our house to personally deliver Nate a patch, many goodies, and give him a real fire helmet and a ride in a pumper truck! They have been generous to him and us ever since. These are truly fabulous people!
Now to a four-year-old boy who loves fire trucks, fire equipment, and wants to be a fireman when he grows up (yesterday!), this means the world! He has made so many "friends" in local fire departments that he feels a part of this community even though he's years from being able to join their ranks.
Obviously the excitement is infectious, as well!
So, a few weeks ago, when a member of the Albion Fire Department stopped by and asked if his crew could bring a truck over to deliver Nate an Albion Fire Department patch, we were thrilled!
I was impressed with the time and effort they had given us - on a weekend, on their own time, out of district. So I asked the guys if they had training that day or if they were getting together just to pay my Nate a visit and one of the guys said, "We love doing this sort of thing because that (he points to Nate) was us when we were his age!"
Nate kept running to the garage to get pieces of his "fire equipment" to bring back and show the guys (pliers, rubber mallets, air hoses, etc.), all with technical names (closet hook, pike pole, self-contained breathing apparatus) and the firefighters would show them their equivalent (the real thing). Nate was in awe. And the firefighters were shocked at his wealth of knowledge. One guy said to me, "he knows more than some of the guys who have been doing this for years!"
Finally, Nate's new firefighter friends suggested we get a photo of the whole crew in their gear....with their newest "member", Nate, among the ranks. The gigantic hearts found beneath turn out suits and Nomex hoods is impressive to say the least.