Let me introduce a kid named Jake Weber, from my town. He’s between my elder son’s age and my younger son’s age. When we had town thingies (Old Home Days, stuff like that) he drove the ox team. He’s big as an ox himself.
He was my student when I substitute taught and he was in primary and middle school.
When he was sixteen he joined the fire department, and later became a firefighter/EMT. I worked a lot of scenes with him, some good, some bad, but he was a stalwart. Big Jake. There was this roll over, where the guy was caught by his left foot in the crushed metal where the driver’s door used to be, hanging in the air by his mangled leg. Jake got behind him and did a squat-lift to take the pressure off the wound, and stayed like that, holding the guy up, until the Jaws could strip away the metal and release him. We ran through three oxygen tanks, each one good for 12-15 minutes while Jake just held the guy up.
Later on, Jake moved over to Vermont, and joined the Underhill Jordan Fire Department. (That’s him in the photo, fifth from the left in the back row, looking like the exhaust pipe from the engine is coming out of his hat).
People who’ve met me, when I tell you Big Jake’s big, believe me.
Anyway. A week ago Saturday he told folks he wasn’t feeling well.
I’ve just got back from his funeral. He was thirty.
It is given to no one to know the day or hour.