Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beginning to Live the Dream Part 2b

Saturday, July 25, 2009. The day some of my dreams started coming true.

Jamie and I had so much fun on our quest to pick up what turned out to be Engine
10 (at least for part of it's Tacoma Fire Department career). It is really hard to say what the best part of the day was. I nearly kissed the fire engine when we first saw her! Aside from her pale color, she is a beauty! SOME of the best moments of the day were:

the looks of awe and adoration we received from children, many adults
(we literally could watch them turn their heads and stare at us as
their mouths dropped open when we drove past -I am NOT making that
up!) and even some firemen who were busy collecting for MDA in a "fill
the boot" campaign.

When we first dumped my Explorer after arrivng in Tacoma, I discovered that my son and his 16 year old girlfriend were ready to be picked up from a party they had been at. My husband had been just leaving to go pick them up. I had the evil idea to pick them up in the fire engine. They could ride in the jump seats. I knew my son would either be mortified (EVIL GRIN) or thrilled (GLEEFUL GRIN). It was a win-win for me! I was happy to discover that he was thrilled.

After picking the kids up we went to Station 2. It seems that Jamie was under the impression that there were some retired rigs stored in the basement there and he wanted to see if any of the 1970 ALF sisters might be there. When we pulled in to the rear driveway, the chief had just pulled in as well. We received a friendly reception from him and carried on a pleasant conversation, reminiscing about our childhood memories from station 8 and the firemen we knew then. He was able to tell us where some of them are now and that was pretty cool. Unfortunately station two did not house the retired rigs anymore and we were not able to see anything there.

From there we headed off to visit the fire station we grew up four houses away from, good 'ol station 8. We knew that it had been sold (sadly) to a private party who now lives in it and runs some sort of chocolate factory in it. Still we had to park in front of the former station for pictures. Jamie couldn't park it on the apron because the owner had a vehicle parked there and we didn't have permission anyway. He just pulled up in front of the station on the street and stopped for a picture. The fire engine completely blocked the view of the private car in the driveway. The picture shows me in the passenger seat!

For nostalgia's sake, we had to make a "run" down 43rd street to "M" street as we had seen and heard Engine 8 do so many times as children. To make it more authentic we needed the sound of the siren. The real siren would have been illegal to use and was missing anyway, so to appease our fantasy I vocally blasted the siren as loudly as I could. Not a bad imitation if I do say so myself!

We decided the next stop would be to see our mom. As of yet I had not driven the fire engine and my brother asked me on the way from station 8 to mom's house where I would feel most comfortable doing so. I have driven 72 passenger big yellow school buses so this was not something that would be hard for me to do, but I hadn't driven any thing that large for a number of years. My awesome brother knew I would be nervous at first so he wanted to make sure I was in a place that I would be comfortable with before I drove it. I told him a large parking lot would have been great, like the one at my church which we had driven by when we went to get the kids. He acknowledged that it would have been a great place but of course it was too late for that now. We still ahd plans for the evening that neither of us could weasle out of. We turned onto the street my mom lives on and he abruptly stopped. "Chinese Firedrill" he told me. I didn't have to be ordered twice!

I jumped into the driver's seat, he jumped into the passenger seat and I drove her the few blocks to my mom's. I remembered a certain feeling I got when Mike Stoker sat behind the wheel of Engine 51 on Emergency! and gripped that giant steering wheel. I had that same feeling again as I gripped the wheel of this nostalgic fire engine that now belongs to my brother. I savored the moment with my hands spread far apart gripping either side of that wheel. YESSSS!!! I LOVE it!!! We had called ahead and said we were coming a few minutes earlier so my step dad, Nate was standing outside in front of the house when I drove up. I thoroughly enjoyed the look on Nate's face and the surprise in his voice when I pulled up
in front of mom's. I opened the door and his eyes got wide as he recognized me and he said, "YOU'RE DRIVING IT???" He said over and over during the ensuing short visit, "I can't believe YOU'RE driving it!" Apparently it wasn't until that day that Nate realized or learned that Jamie is a firefighter largely due to my original passion for it.

After mom's house, it was time to make our evening engagements, but we still hadn't made it by Station 10 so she could feel like she was truly home. Jamie drove me home and I left for my party while he zipped off to mass. After mass he picked me back up from my party. I had made an appearance and I had warned them that I had an important errand to run in the fire engine and therefore would be running out on the party and returning again later. Being the wonderful group of people that they are, they all let me just babble and babble about my adventures. They even pretended to like it! When Jamie picked me back up in the fire engine, we of course showed it off to all who wanted to see it before heading off to station 10. I was thrilled that so many of them seemed to genuinely want to check it out and was even happier that I was able to knowledgeably answer some of their questions about the fire engine without having to refer them to my fireman brother!

When we arrived at Station 10 we parked across the street from it and walked across and knocked on the door. When Firefighters Karen and Brent greeted us we explained what we were doing there. we received a very warm welcome from both of them and they insisted that we park her ON the apron for the photos. Jamie was concerned about us being in the way if their engine was to be called out and they just said, well, yours runs! If we get a call, MOVE it! LOL The icing on the cake was that, before we left Station 10, Firefighter Karen ran back into the station and came out with a small gift which she presented to my brother as she thanked him for bringing the fire engine by. (Yes, THEY thanked US and they were the ones who did US the favor!) These two firefighters were not around when Jamie's fire engine was in service in Tacoma!

It was an absolute thrill driving through Tacoma that day, seeing our
reflection in windows on building fronts. Jamie and I would seemingly
take turns pointing wildly and saying "That's US!!"

Quite honestly I can only describe it as having the excitement
that a 7 year old little boy would have on his first tour of a
fire station, only it lasted all weekend, and still continues to thrill
the hell out of me! And the very, very, VERY best part is that MY
BROTHER is living HIS dream, and that I had a large influence on him in chasing that dream, and he continues sharing it with me so that I
can live MY dream too.

Words truly don't do justice to what a special day this was and what a
special time I got to share with the brother that I love more than I
can possible say. Not only is he my hero for the way he lives his
life -honestly, fairly, compassionately, etc., for the way he loves his family and
especially his wife, for serving the greater good with his two career
choices, for understanding and accepting me completely for who I am (and giving me affirmation) even when most people think I am certifiable, but also for what a loving and caring brother he is and how humble and modest he is about all of it.

I cannot belive how much I have already lived in this lifetime! I am
SO lucky.

This happened in the end of July. I spent four days with my brother in Washougal at his fire station/home in mid August. I also spent another five days towards the end of August. During this time, my wonderful brother got me authorized to ride along during my entire visit. Of course in the nine days I was authorized (combined)
my brother did not get ONE call!!! I think the residents of East County Fire and Rescue owe me some kind of insurance premiums or something!! The night of the day I went home my brother had three calls in a row! All were non-event calls as he called them, but I would have had the opportunity to ride with lights and sirens had I been there! One major hilight of my visits was going to drill with my brother. It was not an exciting drill night. It was the scheduled "meeting" type where all they did was talk about stuff. It was kind of interesting but not exciting. However, the firefighters I met were awesome. Jamie introduced me to a female firefighter who's day job is as a major airline pilot! VERY COOL. One firefighter in particular made me feel very welcome. I think his name was Chris. The chief was awesome! He made sure to add my name in when he listed rig assignments on the board. I have picture proof documentation of the list on the white board where the chief officially assigned me to Squad 96! (and he even spelled Myers right!!)

During my Washougal visits I got to drive my brother's personal fire engine for the better part of an hour! That was SO fun. He even took photos of me from the passenger seat while I drove, and a small video. I also got to try on SCBA gear and feel and see first hand how it works. And he showed me how the pump operates on his squad. And I got to see how to fill the water tank and he let me do it.

I slept in a fire station, I cooked in a fire station, I cleaned a fire station. I lived in the fire station!!! I changed baby diapers in a fire station!! I sent out a page to the entire department! Oh the list of cool little things I did just went on and on. I even went on a date with an awesome fireman. Ssshhh! Don't tell my husband! (LOL) For those of you who might be worried about that, don't be. We had a chaperone. My brother was a perfect gentleman and our chaperone is the most awesome and amazing woman I know and a wonderful sister-in-law!

There! Now you have the prequel to the story that this blog will be telling from now on. I will explain in the next post! Thanks for reading.

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