This is the truck that the fire department named after my uncle. His name is on both doors as well as the front. He was on the department for many years and also took a stint as the fire chief before his retirement. A new department was actually built on the land next to his house (coincidentally), and he spent many a morning walking on the path through the raspberry bushes to the fire hall. Usually he would get a pot of coffee going for the guys. He still listened to the scanner, almost too much, to my aunt's annoyance. Like his little brother, who is my father, he loved to talk. Loved. it. I spent many days at my aunt and uncle's house as a child, and in my mind can still hear him say, "How do?" or "How are ya, tweetie?". As kids, my cousins and I made a list of how very much alike my uncles and my father were - in some ways almost like multiples, even though they were quite a few years apart in age.
My uncle was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 2002. He died in January 2003, just a few days shy of his 80th birthday. This new truck was ordered the summer before, and it was unanimously decided by the guys that his name should be put on it. My uncle was not told about that decision beforehand. He was called over to the hall the day it was delivered, and he happily traipsed over there to see the new piece of big machinery. He did not notice his name at first and was absolutely beside himself when it was pointed out. I have a picture of him the day he first saw "his" truck, and he is beaming.
He died while in Florida for the winter. We knew he wasn't doing well, and I told my father that I would take off school (I was in an internship at the time) and drive him down to Florida. After all, this was his last living sibling and the one he was closest to. We never had a chance to get there.
He had an official funeral, complete with "Last Call". I still, five years later, can't tell the story of "Last Call" without tears running down my face. My dad, one of the generation who does not cry, had tears in his eyes. The procession to the cemetery was one that my uncle would have grinned about...it was absolutely, massively, hugely long. The fire truck above led the way.
Seeing that truck brings back those memories, both good and bad. I guess now they could be called bittersweet. I never meant to post about all this, but I feel better in a way. Like at least a part of his story is out there.
I miss him. RIP, Uncle Sherm.