This past week has been difficult. Losing one of our own has shaken us.  Phil Hawkins and I were friends for a very long time and his guidance was instrumental in the development of our Team since its’ inception on 2007.

Because we were close friends for nearly fifty years and shared a love for the Lord, our families, the Fire Department, and pork chops (yes, there was always those pork chops), we thought alike and spent untold number of hours just talking.  We talked about our careers, our lives, and about the days we would meet our Maker.  We were only three weeks apart in age, and yes, I’m the older one and he never let me forget it.  But at our age, thinking about death was a topic we often discussed.  Not in a macabre way, but just wondering how it would end.  Well, my brother got his wish, leaving this world with his family together again, no suffering, and no burden on those who would need to take care of him.

We often talked about the future of our Team.  It has been twelve years since we began, and we were adult enough to know we would not always be here.  Some time ago, we began a plan to put together the people to sustain this Team for years to come.  We shared the same vision for where this Team should go understanding that those to carry it into the future needed to have ownership of all that we stand for.   Phil and I together shared the satisfaction of knowing the Team is in good hands.  Now, don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not planning on going anywhere yet, but I am enjoying watching all the others move this Team along.   As I stood at Phil’s gravesite this week, with Lee Hopkins on one side and David Reindollar on the other, I could only hope he was smiling as he saw our plan coming together.  When you add Mike Medeiros, Andy and Teresa Hogg, Brad Bonds, Michelle Brown, Jared Hershberger, Laura Stephenson, April Miller, and Kevin Gwyer to the group along with all our other Team members, this Team has only begun.   Thank you, Phil, for helping me understand.   I’ll see you down on the corner one day.

Gerald