For those of you who knew him, and those who didn’t get the chance, my father, Chuck Mayers, passed away a few weeks ago. Fortunately, I got to see him before he left us. However, I realized upon seeing him, his condition was not one in which he’d have desired to remain in. The prognosis was not believed to improve greatly, and so mercifully, he died in the presence of family and is no longer suffering.
I chose this picture which was shared with us from the archives of the North Penn Fire Company, in North Wales, PA, where among all my Dad’s other fire service roles, my father volunteered and ultimately rose to Chief of Department. That’s him, standing on the turntable, from what year I do not know, and it is a vivid image for me because he was doing what he loved to do- he loved being a firefighter. His life centered around the job and he shared that passion with us, a passion he got from his own father, and it still burns within us.
Ironically, he died on the eve of my retirement after 35 years at Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue. Maybe that was a good thing, because between finalizing retirement documents, a pending vacation (we planned to spend with him), new job opportunities, and now having to deal with the logistics of getting my kids to the services, I went into “command mode” and never really focused on all the changes going on around me. In fact, none of this really even hit me until the piper struck in at the grave side, and I realized what I had lost.
It has been a crazy few weeks and I’m overwhelmed at the amount of support friends, family, and even strangers (to me) have expressed. Today was my first day home to really just take it all in and to begin making plans forward in my life with all these changes. For a person who talks and teaches about change, I have the tools to facilitate positive forward movement, but I can honestly feel the emotional part that tugs us to look in the rear-view. I get it. There is a quote I have struggled to find again, or even who to attribute it to, but the context is this: “As the tempest rises, no matter the beating of a swallow’s wings, it cannot change the storm.” What we can do is protect ourselves and seek opportunities. We can keep an eye on the horizon and develop a vision of our future. But all of these are my way of processing things rationally, and honestly, there are moments when you’d just like to call and say, “Hey, Dad…”