Dear Trent & Tyson,
Whoa. To say the last two days have been a whirlwind would be a ginormous understatement. I don’t know how much you can understand at your ages, so in true form, I’d like to write you a letter that just might stay with you forever. And maybe someday you’ll have a better realization of what the recent events have meant for your daddy… and for you.
Here’s a nutshell, since I plan to include all the official reports in your scrapbooks for this year. Your daddy was working on the ambulance (we visited him earlier that day; you played hide-and-seek and weren’t ready to go home for naps when I was) and got a call at 5:30 the next morning, before his shift would have ended at 7. A car was seen driving into Silver Lake, and the ambulance crews and fire department were dispatched along with the police officers. Your daddy spent the ride out to the scene emptying his pockets: phone, wallet, chapstick, keys. Because he was ready to go in if he had to.
The police officers on scene verified that there was in fact a car in the water, headlights on. So while Daddy’s partner handled the scene and radio traffic on land, Daddy jumped into the 46-degree water with just his pants on (oh yeah, and the air temperature was in the 20’s). When he got to the car, he found an unresponsive 3-month-old baby boy, pulled him out of the vehicle and got onto the roof. There, he performed CPR, wishing and praying the fire department was nearly on scene to rush to their assistance with cold water suits in a boat. But, when he found out they’d been delayed by a train, he did what he had to do—jumped back into the water, swimming backwards while holding that baby above the water, and handed him over to his partner and the police officers on the shore. That baby has already been released from the hospital in great health.
So, as you can imagine, there’s a lot of people who are excited over the fact that your daddy very honestly saved that baby’s life. He was given the terrible circumstances of darkness and cold, oh yeah and being in a lake, and managed to literally save a life. Turns out, the story has spread quite like wildfire. Trent answered the door yesterday to a very well known news reporter from St. Louis, while Tyson stood smiling in his underwear. Then we found out it had even made the Washington Post and led a congressman to give a speech and order a flag to be flown over the U.S. Capitol today. Is this all really happening? I don’t even know yet what tomorrow will bring!
You are his sons. Those are the shoes you will spend your lives trying to fill. What do I want you to know?
I want you to know that before most people have a huge success, there’s so much work and commitment that goes into it first that people don’t even realize. Yes, your dad did a very heroic thing yesterday. But he loves his job, and makes sure he is always prepared for the worst of circumstances by studying and learning from those around him. He also takes his fitness level very seriously, not by bragging about how many pull-ups he’s done or miles he’s logged on his last run, but by proving that he’s not only willing to put himself in a risky situation but physically strong enough to almost guarantee a positive outcome (because let’s be honest, there’s no guarantees). He always makes sure to work as a team, the first to say that he didn’t want to do any interviews unless his partner was there with him. He’s more prepared than most for the unexpected, which is why anyone in this little town who knows him also knew “it had to be Todd” when they heard there was a local paramedic who performed heroic actions during an unfortunate situation. Because yes—of course it was Todd. Not because he worked a miracle— he prepares himself daily to perform the most difficult tasks in difficult situations— but because he miraculously was in the right place at the right time, with the right skills and strength to see the incident through.
So know this. You don’t have to pull an unresponsive baby out of a submerged car and then resuscitate the baby to be a hero. You have to find something you’re passionate about, work hard daily to be the best at that job, and be prepared to be under-recognized for your efforts. Maybe even for years. And when people don’t always see how hard you work or note your dedication, do it all over again the next day anyway.
Always remember to keep your team close to you. Keep up the good communication and always have each other’s backs.
Ignore the people who criticize you, whether it’s because they don’t understand your level of commitment or if it might be because they don’t think they could measure up. Their opinions are not of any importance, nor should they change the direction of your goals.
Our community, the reporters, and everyone else who hears this story are calling Daddy a hero. And he’s saying “I’m not a hero, I was just doing my job.” So do you want to follow in your daddy’s footsteps? Be a rockstar at your job, whatever may be your passion, every stinking day. And when all that hard work pays off with a big reward, be so humble and modest to truthfully say you were just performing for what you’ve prepared for. You might be a farmer, or a teacher or architect or engineer or train engineer, you might be a construction worker or firefighter or banker—work hard, prepare for every situation, and then be a hero.
And you will be filling those very large shoes, filled by a man who loves you so very much and is an amazing role model of selflessness, bravery, and strength.