Am I A Fireman Yet?

Fire Engine

In Phoenix, Arizona, a 26-year-old mother stared lovingly at her son. He was six years old but dying, of terminal leukaemia. Although her heart was filled with sadness, she was determined to remain strong. Like any parent, she had wanted her son to grow up and fulfil his lifetime dreams.

Sadly, that no longer seemed possible; the leukaemia would see to that. But she still wanted her son’s big dream to come true. She took her son’s hand and once again asked, “Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?” “Mommy, I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up,” he said. Mom smiled back and said, “Let’s see if we can make your wish come true!”

Book Cover: Am I A Fireman

Later that day and very down-hearted, Mom went to her local fire department in Phoenix, Arizona. She met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix. She explained to him her son’s final wish and asked if it might be possible to give Billy, a ride around the block on a fire engine. Fireman Bob said, “Look, we can do better than that. If you’ll have your son ready at seven o’clock on Wednesday morning, we’ll make him an Honorary Fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards,” Bob announced.  “And if you’ll give us his sizes, we’ll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat – not a toy one, with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots. They’re all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast.”

Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station. He was in heaven!

There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls. He rode in different fire engines, the paramedic’s van, and even the fire chief’s car. He was also videotaped for the local news program.

Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy; he lived longer than the doctors thought possible.

Then the night everyone hoped wouldn’t happen, came. All of his vital signs dropped dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept – that no one should die alone, began to call his family to the hospital. While doing so, she remembered the day Billy had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman, in uniform, to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition.

The Chief replied, “We can do better than that. We’ll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favour? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system, that there is NO fire? It’s the department coming to see one of its finest members, one more time. And will you open the window to his room please?”

About five minutes later, a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy’s third-floor open window. Sixteen firefighters climbed up the ladder into Billy’s room and, with his mother’s permission, they hugged him, and held him, and told him how much they LOVED him.

With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the Fire Chief and said, “Chief, am I really a fireman now?” He replied, “Billy, you are, and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand.” With those words, Billy smiled and said, “I know, He’s been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing.”

Billy then closed his eyes, for the last time.


Another Saint welcomed into Heaven.

St Dominic Savio, a student of St John Bosco who died at the age of fourteen, once wrote, “God wants all of us to be Saints, it is easy to become a Saint and there is a great reward in heaven for those who try to become Saints.”

Never give up trying!

Remember Those Who Serve Us

Sketch of waiter.
Small yellow-grey Cross

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a Hotel Coffee Shop and sat uneasily at a table.

A waitress arrived and put a glass of water in front of him.
Nervously, he asked, “How much is an ice cream sundae?”
“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand from his pocket and
studied the coins in his hand!
“Well, how much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired.

Time seemed to pass slowly and by now,
more people were waiting to be served.
The impatient waitress brusquely replied, “Thirty-five cents.”

The little boy counted his coins again!
He then looked up at her and with a tentative smile said,
“I’ll have the plain ice cream please.”

The waitress brought the ice cream,
put the bill on the table and walked away.
The boy finished the ice cream,
paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress returned to the table to clean it,
she cried as she wiped it down.
There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,
were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae,
because he wouldn’t have enough left over, to give her a tip!

Small yellow coloured Cross surrounded by lilies

Reading others thoughts is often, at best, guesswork.

It’s easy to overlook the fact that, most people, place others first and expect no reward. Some don’t, causing much hurt.

Three Red Marbles

Three Red Marbles
Small red and grey Cross

During the waning years of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, in a small southeastern Kansas community, I used to stop by Mr Miller’s roadside stand for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used extensively.

One particular day, Mr Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr Miller and the ragged boy next to me.

“Hello Barry, how are you today?”
“H’lo, Mr Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas…sure look good.”
“They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?”
“Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.”
“Good. Anything I can help you with?”
“No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.”
“Would you like to take some home?”
“No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.”
“Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?”
“All I got’s my prize marble here.”
“Is that right? Let me see it.”
“Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.”
“I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?”
“Not ‘zackley …..but, almost.”
“Tell you what. Take this bag of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble.”
“Sure will. Thanks, Mr Miller.”

Mrs Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile, she said, “There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps.”

I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado but I never forgot the story of Mr Millar, the boys and their bartering. Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr Miller had died.

They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon our arrival at the mortuary, we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts – very professional looking. They approached Mrs Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket. “Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about colour or size – they came to pay their debt”.

“We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,” she confided, “but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho.” With loving gentleness, she lifted her husband’s lifeless fingers. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined, red marbles!

Small red Cross surrounded by lilies

The helping hand of a stranger; how many have you encountered in your life?

Perhaps, we forget to count!

You Can’t Please Everyone

Good, better, best.
Small yellow-grey Cross

An old fable, that has been passed down for generations, tells about an elderly man who was travelling with a boy and a donkey.

Donkey grazing

As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind. The village-folk said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal’s back.

When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal’s back and continued on his way.

Small silhouette of man riding donkey

In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So the man climbed on and they set off again.

In the fourth village, the people were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people.

The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road!



We smile, but the story makes a good point:

We can’t please everybody all of the time and if we try, we end up carrying an impossible burden. Well-meaning people may offer us advice, and much of it is valuable. But when we try to do everything others want us to do, we can quickly become frustrated and confused. That’s why we need to remember that the one we must please, above all others, is Jesus Christ. We do that by obeying God’s Word.

Have you carried any donkeys lately? You don’t have to if you are trying to please Jesus.

The Fence And A Few Holes

Wooden Fence

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him, every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail into the garden fence.

Hammer in persons hand.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered that it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

Nail partially hammered into fence.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like these holes.”

“You can put a knife in a man and draw it out but, it won’t matter how many times you say you are sorry, the wound is still there.”


Small red Cross surrounded by lilies

A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. When we abuse others, verbally or physically, we leave a lifelong scar. Yet, people are precious and equal; created by the same God, and we don’t hold ownership rights over anyone!

We need each other, not to demean but to share a common joy, beauty and love.

May the wounds that we inflicted on Jesus, on His way to Calvary, be no more!