On November 1st, Eastport United Methodist Church had a celebration for All Saints Day. John was recognized.
The day started early with feeding the horses and waking kiddo up to go. I met my friend, Kari, in Havre de Grace. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated her going with us. She adores Nathaniel and he loves playing with her.
When we arrived in Annapolis, I was pleasantly surprised to see Chief Smith! It was so nice to see a friendly familiar face! It was also great to see Pastor MaAn! She is the fire chaplain for Annapolis and spoke at John’s services.
Nathaniel was a superstar during the services. During the first one, he barely had a peep out of him! When the time came to be recognized, I gathered up the little one and the two of us went up. I had visions of him grabbing the candle and the church burning down, but thankfully that wasn’t the case!
It was an emotional ceremony, but I kept myself together quite well. I focused on Nathaniel.
After the second service we went over to see the union president at Taylor Avenue. Pulling into the driveway was challenging. I thought of all of the times that the Jeep had been there with John. I thought of all of the memories that John had there and how much he loved working for AFD. Being a firefighter was John’s dream job. He pursued his dream till he achieved it. I really respect those who follow their dreams.
The union president had something he wanted to give me. A beautiful memorial medal from IAFF.
Most of the firefighters were on a call, but they soon returned. It was great to see familiar faces and we all had breakfast/lunch together. The conversation turned to John’s unique eating habits. No lima beans. Meatloaf containing green peppers must have all of the peppers removed. He even had a unique way of eating potato chips… little tiny pieces first, then the medium sized pieces, and then he broke the larger chips into smaller pieces and ate them. I recollected how at an Italian restaurant years ago, the two of us both ordered spaghetti because it was one of the few things on the menu that we recognized. When the food arrived he cut his spaghetti into quadrants. Then selected one quadrant and cut it into tiny bite sized pieces and ate it and then repeated. Everybody at the table took notice of his eating style. Poor Nathaniel misses out… John would have his cut his food into perfect toddler sized pieces. Mommy… well let’s just say… not so perfect in that department.
Kari, asked if John was OCD. I paused. I never really thought of him as OCD. Anal would perhaps be a better description. But, anal seems so unkind. Debbie quantified it with “everything had a place and everything in its place.” That combined with some analness was probably the best way to describe John. On top of that, John expected you to know where that place and have everything put back in the order it was– but you probably never even realized that there was an order in the first place. I always found it ironic that John could be so particular about things, but at the same time he did have some of his things that stayed in piles as well.
There is the theory that opposites attract. That would be how John and I were opposite. I’m not a good house keeper. I’m not neat & tidy. The only thing that I’m particular about is how my hose lays in the winter… I get really anal about that. But that is analness by necessity. Carrying water for seven horses is NOT fun and rather time consuming, especially when I have reynauds and have yet to find the magical pair of gloves that keeps my fingers from freezing and burning (all of the time).
John also had very high standards. He expected things to be done right. Quite frequently people didn’t meet his expectations. He also had people that he was friends with that he liked a lot as people, but not very much as firefighters. You had to be damn good at firefighting to get his nod of approval. It often was hard to live up to his standards. He also expected you to know how to do something or to have it done without him mentioning it. This could frustrate the crap out of me. I’m the type that needs to be talked through something I’m unfamiliar with or haven’t done in a while. I also am not very observant- unless we’re talking about horses. We never fought about it (we weren’t the fighting type), but we did have some frustration and friction.
I think Nathaniel mellowed him a little. He was great at breaking things down for Nathaniel and encouraging him. He’d tell me that I expected too much from him. Of course the irony of the whole thing is now I find myself expecting a lot out of Nathaniel and have to remind myself… he’s only a year old and for the most part a super good kid… he’s not going to be perfect all of the time.
Funny thing was, for most of our relationship, I couldn’t stand his “particularness.” It could grate on my last nerve. Of course, I’m sure he couldn’t stand my lack of “particularness” either.
Ironic thing is that towards the end, I got to the point that I could tell what John wanted before he said it (most of the time). I knew he liked things tidy, so when I was thinking, I’d have his hospital room straightened up and his tray the way he liked it. Grant it, I did have to think about it. I also would tell John to talk me through as I was helping him get into and out of bed. By letting him know that I needed that extra guidance we were on the same page. Sometimes the key to good relationships is knowing the differences and finding out how to bridge the gap and meet in the middle at a happy medium.