Last Sunday, after fighting a wildland fire for 12 hours, Scappoose volunteer firefighter/EMT Robert Hales died. He left behind a wife and three daughters. The memorial service was held today. There is something about the camaraderie of emergency services. Having once been a paramedic and firefighter, there was never a thought that I wouldn’t attend the service today.
I took along with me my Darling 3 year old Daughter. Her presence with me made this service all that more memorable. Besides the usual things you’d see at a responder’s funeral (hundreds of uniformed personnel, bagpipes, flags, etc), the part of the service that really gripped me were the thoughts from Hales’ daughters and wife.
The girls had written their comments to be read. It was heartwarming/heartbreaking to sit there, with my DD on my lap, listening to these girls talk about how special and wonderful and loved their daddy is to them. One of them talked about how she didn’t get to say goodbye. They both talked about how much fun they had at the waterpark the day before he died.
Then his wife got up and shared what she had written. She talked about how she kept falling in love with him, virtually everyday. She fell in love with him the first time she met him, while he was chewing her out for trying to drown the noisy muffler with a loud stereo. She fell in love with him when she met him again and asked if he was married. She fell in love with him when they got married, when their kids were born, and when he joined the fire district.
She talked about how special it was to see their daughters falling in love with him, and vice versa. She too spoke of the water park day and how much fun he had with his daughters. The next day, he died. She finished by saying she’s not done falling in love with him. She will keep falling in love with him forever. It was very sweet.
DD and I left as the service came to an end. We joined a school, where I sit on the board, and we honored this fallen firefighter as the 100 or so emergency vehicles traveled up Highway 30 to the county fairgrounds. There were about 60 kids, and several adults standing along the highway waving small American Flags and two kids holding a larger flag and banner.
The firefighters and cops that passed waved, honked, and rang their bells for us. It was good for the kids, and I know it was good for the responders. How do I know this? Cuz, I’m both. I’m glad I have my kids and I’m glad I was able to hold my DD on my lap today.