by Christina Stapp - Emergency Medical Tech and 911 Dispatcher
I have two little boys who are now six and seven and who love to play with cars on the living room rug. I just sit and listen to them talk sometimes...
When Paul, the younger of the two, was about two years old or so, he was laying on the circular rug that was in the living room, playing with his cars like always. I happened to overhear some of the things he was talking about, so I asked him who he was talking to. He told me (in two-year-old words), "Grandaddy." He was playing with fire trucks. My Grandaddy, Wayne, was a fireman and died when I was twelve, way before I even thought about children! I felt cold chills immediately!! Paul had no way of knowing who Grandaddy was, being as young as he is.
It took me three days to tell my Mom what had happened; he was her Father and death circumstances were bad. Even as he has gotten older he has asked a million questions about Gran-daddy Wayne, and wants to go to the cemetery when we pass it. I didn't go to his funeral and have wished since that I had. He had the traditional fireman's funeral, trucks and all. When Ladder 49 came out, Paul and I were in the theater watching; and the funerals of the fallen men were shown in very realistic detail. He immediately asked me if that was the way Gran-daddy Wayne's funeral was. These questions seem to come out of the blue. They hit me like a truck. I have to compose myself before I can answer him. It seems like Gran-daddy is fresh in his memory all the time- but he never knew him. This tells me that he is watching over our family and making himself known to my kids.
My Great-Grandfather Albert (Gran-daddy Wayne's Father) was still alive until a couple years ago. At the end, he fell into ill health, going into a nursing home. My younger, Paul, was very interested in visiting with him, asking him questions upon questions. I really would have thought that a small child would be frightened, but he was really calm and loving to him, despite the fact that he looked so sick. My older son was visibly nervous while visiting. I really believe that Paul is very in tune with both of these great men...I think that it is so neat. I try to remember as much of the things that I did with them when I was little, retelling stories of the days that I spent with them; making sure that we spend the most time that we can with my Parents and Grandparents. We have four generations living now, not too long ago we had five. We are fortunate, for the ones that are still with us; and the ones who are not with us really ARE with us, in the eyes of our kids.