Gingerbread   6 comments

About 12 years ago, I was helping my brother and some of our mutual friends build an outdoor ramp to the front porch of my family’s house for my mom, who at the time needed to use a wheelchair.  Our house was far from handicap accessible…the front porch being about 10 steps up from the ground.

We had a nice group of builders show up for the job when the time came…we had fire chiefs, off duty cops, paramedics…you know, the usual group of wanna-be contractors, each with their own set of skills…my set of skills were geared towards fetching the lunches.  Fine by me.

It was quite the project.  The ramp had to meet the standards of my then-boss.  He was definitely the foreman/head builder of the job, having the most practical experience building wooden objects…though his were usually meant to float.  The ramp would have to rise 12” for every foot of length.  How you can calculate that is where you lose me.  Somehow, these guys pulled it off.   Add to that, the ramp had a nice 90 degree turn to it as well.  So in the end, we had about a 60’ ramp, sharp turn and all.

Along the way, during one of the grueling work days (not for me of course), one of the new kids, as I would refer to him, showed up on my lawn unannounced, but ready to work.  He, I guess, saw all the commotion in the yard and, knowing a number of the worker-bees, decided he should drop by….on his bicycle, mind you.  I don’t think he was old enough to drive.  See, most of us were volunteers on the local fire dept. and ambulance.  This new kid was also new at the volunteer gig.  That’s how he knew the guys in my yard.  So I had no problem with him being there…I recognized him…he was friendly and clearly just wanted to be part of the group.  He lived about 5 blocks away too, so he was my neighbor-ish.  He lived in a house known locally as the Gingerbread House…known as such because, well, that’s what his house looked like.

From that day on, he and I were friends.  I got to know him just as he appeared on my lawn that day, a friendly, outgoing, always smiling kid, who just wanted to be part of the group.  As time went on, we would bump into each other here and there, at Grand Central Terminal, where we would be coming from or going to jobs neither of us liked.  We would always share a joke about how much that sucked.   Always a smile, always a laugh, no matter where we were or what we were doing.

So today, this buddy, whom I have not seen in too long of a time, took his own life.  I am writing this for me more than anything else.  But it is also important that I let others know how I will remember him.  Smiles.  Laughs.  Friendliness.  I hope those that knew him better than I will also remember him this way.


When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit-

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a fellow turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –

You may succeed with another blow.

Rest in Peace John

Posted October 2, 2013 by mayday76 in Uncategorized

6 responses to “Gingerbread

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  1. It’s an odd road, this thing we call life. When moments like this force a pause, I know it is a wrenching opportunity to have gratitude.

    I am touched, moved, and inspired by the gift you have. In this moment that has dropped many to their knees you have distilled it to what is most important and real in your heart.

    Your grace is extraordinary.

  2. Sorry for your loss.  So sad.  

    Sent via the Samsung GALAXY S®4, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

  3. No words, this is just so true, your words are so beautiful. No words, but thank you for this….

  4. A touching and meaningful memory. My thoughts are with his family and all who knew him.

  5. I posted your tribute on my FB page and thank you for your words of wisdom and gratitude. I did not know John other than passing, but my son is with VAC. If you are a VAC or TMF volunteer, we are all family in this community. We all share the pain of losing one of the members all too soon. My condolences go out to his family, friends and extended volunteer family. When times are difficult please reach out to people for help. Life may feel overwhelming but in time everything will be well. Rescuers are there for others, but must take care of themselves as well. I hope that the surviving volunteers will reach out to the counselors for consoling and when things get too tough in life… call for help. My own grandfather took his own life, and the lasting impact on his family never ends.

  6. Another suicide. This is so sad, but the words are beautiful and should be taken to heart.

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