Today I was leaving the gym and three firemen were walking by.
I stopped them, as I do every fireperson that I see, to thank them for being there the morning my Father started to die.
He was old, and things were going downhill. It was OK, it was his time. He had the surge of "traveling energy" that I had heard about. When person is ready to go on their final journey, they often just get up and start walking, even if they have previously been unable to take a step.
So, on this morning, the Friday of the closing weekend of Devotion 2008, my Mother called and said, "He fell."
I was out the door and over the hill as fast as I could go. I actually thought of speeding so I would get pulled over, so I could tell the police to send the fire department.
We had called the fire department several times before, when my folks needed help. They always arrived in a flash, offered help, and left leaving courtesy and dignity intact.
This day was no different. When I arrived I saw that I was not going to be able to move Dad. He was OK, but had fallen after trying to take a few steps.
I called the fire department and they arrived in moments. Several men came in, obviously with different assignments; one took a pulse and looked in his eyes with a light, one spoke to my Father to access his breathing, two lifted him to the bed.
He was winded but made sure to thank them. I tried to stay out of the way. Then one of the firemen said, "You can watch. Do you want to know what we are doing?" Yes I did, I wanted to understand what was going on, he filled me in.
On the way out, the same man pulled me aside and said, "Do not hesitate to call us. You are going to need us."
I thanked him and several hours later my Father passed away in my arms with my Mother holding his hand.
It was OK because the firemen had put us at ease. We knew what was happening and that we could call them if we felt we needed them.
So, I have made it my puja to stop every fireperson that I see, no matter where I am, to say "Thank you."