The last few days we have been preparing for Hurricane Matthew. Having lived in Florida for 99% of my life, hurricane preparedness is not new. I am so incredibly blessed to not have ever been directly impacted by a Hurricane. However that does not mean that I haven’t put in my time getting ready because you just never know. You CANNOT be under prepared. During this time also makes me think back to being married to a First Responder.
For 25 years Steve was a Firefighter in Sarasota County Florida. 24 hour shifts – double shifts sometimes (thank goodness because that was overtime pay) and the potential of extra work due to emergencies. Hurricanes were one of those emergencies. There was never a question as to whether Steve would be home for the hurricane. No. Nope. No way. Never. It was just a gimmee that he would be out in the county evacuating people and providing his first responder duties. Did I worry? If I say yes, I’m a worrying wife. If I say no, then I don’t care. My truthful answer would be no.
Steve was the best at his job and I knew that he never took chances that were not necessary. There were also times that I didn’t find out about a scary situation because it was not necessary for me to know until it was over. His firefighter days were some of the best and some of the worst.
Both times I went into labor, Steve was on duty. I can’t begin to tell you the times in our lives that happened, Steve was on duty. To make it even better? My dad was also a firefighter, my brother was also a firefighter and my brother in law was a firefighter. There were years that we had a family member on each shift at different stations. Just think of the logistics during the holidays trying to figure out how and when we would gather together. There were many years that there would be 12-15 of us opening Christmas gifts in the common room at one of the stations. It’s what you do as a firefighter family.
Our house was always the place where displaced hurricane people gathered. Mom and Dad lived in a mobile home so we would open up the house to the mobile home park. One year, I will never forget, we had an elderly couple at the house. The woman was very ill and dying of cancer. It however was the most precious of times. When you are stuck in the house with nothing to do, you make the most of your situation. You talk to people. You allow yourself to slow down. I will never forget that day.
Steve has been retired now for 6 years. As we prepared for Hurricane Matthew it still seems weird that he’s here. I always feel safer when he is here.
If you are in the path of the storm and your enjoy your day off, don’t forget about the First Responders who will be out in the weather working. Steve’s heart was and forever will be a First Responder. That I know.
We still have many friends who are First Responders. This is going to be a long weekend for them. Thank you for your service.
the girl grateful that her husband is home.