Thursday, February 3, 2011

When We Were Kings

http://www.mtexpress.com/vu_breaking_story.php?bid=96412

A guy on a fuel truck. Not hardly. When you are young with your whole life ahead of you, anything is possible. For a couple of kids, the possibilities seem endless. Kings for a day.

I met Craig Adamson in 1984. I was a young cop and he was the new County Ambulance Service Director. We met at some forgotten accident scene and we hit it off.

Craig was one of those well adjusted guys with a lot of common sense. For some reason, he had a lapse in that common sense and asked me to become an EMT and work in Emergency Medical Services with him. I was young and stupid and it sounded fun. We worked together for four years. I worked part time for the ambulance service and eventually became an Advanced EMT- while still doing the Deputy Sheriff thing. I did not become "poorer" for that experience.

Craig absolutely loved being an EMT. He loved what he did and I have to say, there was nobody better. He was the first one out the door when the alarm tone went off. He was the first guy out of the bus when we arrived on scene. He had the enthusiasm of a kid and the word "quit" was not in his vocabulary. He had a gifted sense of humor, one of those guys that could pick up on your cynicism and run with it.  Craig was always the first one to do any job- always leading by example. Craig constantly recruited people. He always told them that one of the benefits of working for the ambulance service was a free trip on the ambulance to the hospital if you needed it. He was always serious when he said that- like he meant it. I often told him that particular benefit did not interest me. I told him it wasn't the best selling point. I feared what he'd do to me- if he were near any catheters while I was unconscious and laying on my back. Craig and that wry smile.

Craig was starting a family back then and said he was naming one of his kids after me. I never knew if he was kidding me or not. I still don't. Craig and I hunted together and we did a few other things. In the late 80's I quit my job as a cop and went to Vegas to screw off. I returned a year later, landed a police officer job with Hailey and got together with Craig again. We decided to become pilots. We did ground school together. I quit after a few lessons and Craig continued on and got his pilots license. About that time, Craig lost his job as the Ambulance Director. I think he used his retirement to buy a plane. I was proud of him for that.

People that love their jobs and are the best at what they do, should never lose their jobs. But they do. Craig taught me that. I never really got over it. Seeing Craig return to the family business in Carey was odd for me. Seeing him in his ambulance get up, little badge, shirt half hanging out of his pants once in awhile, is how I remember him. Seeing him working in the family store always bothered me. Odd, it never seemed to bother him. He practiced acceptance long before I knew what that word meant.

In the intervening years, some 20 of them, life just got in the way of our friendship. I would always try to stop in Carey at the family store,  in some hit or miss fashion. He'd stop by the police department once in awhile. He had a big family to raise and I was busy with my "important" life. Eventually, I became Police Chief for awhile, and as I glance back at our lives- I see the similarities. There are a couple of folks that I left behind who I think saw me the same way- the way I saw Craig when he left. It would never be the same.

So when I got the call yesterday that Craig had been killed in an explosion in Picabo, I was in disbelief. I wondered what the hell had happened. I thought about his wife Betty, all of his kids, and I'll be honest with you... I am having a tough time processing this now. My emotions are not range bound as I reflect on why a guy like Craig was forced to check out early twice. Life it seems, doesn't care much for my emotional appeals. I can't speak for anyone else but I am one of those guys that thinks I am emotionally prepared for these things when they happen. It is a form of self delusion. I think that guys like Craig and I should end our days like old men. Teasing each other in some fishing boat on Carey Lake.

All that is left for me now is acceptance. Craig was smart enough and humble enough to realize that if this is the most intelligent life in the universe- we are all in bad shape. He was a devout Christian. He was a loving father and a loving husband. And he was one of my best friends, even though 20 years got in the way. Craig was one of the good guys. In many respects, I used him to shape what kind of man I wanted to be and I damn sure never thought I'd be writing something like this. Sometimes life, but mostly death, just pisses me off. I know how he was around others when they were grieving. I know what he'd tell me. I just have to remember that. I love you.

18 comments:

rawmuse said...

Sorry, for your loss, Chief.

Brian said...

Thanks RM.

Lisa said...

I am truly sorry for your (and his family's) loss. I want you to know that my prayers are with you.

And in honor of that great friendship I wanted to let you know how greatful I am for the friendship I am finding with you. You are also "One of the Good Guys"!

Stay Strong!

Brian said...

Thanks Lisa, it's late and I am beat. Thinking I will try to get some sleep..

wirecutter said...

Brian, I honestly don't know what to say.
At our age, we both know what it's like when tragedy hits. Sometimes we can accept it, Sometimes not. But regardless, it's never easy. I truly wish that I had words that would ease your pain, but I don't.
But please know that the ancient Greeks believed that as long as a mans' name is remembered, he's immortal.
Never forget his name, never forget his voice and always remember the gentle things he showed you.
Again, my sympathies.
-Kenny

Chakracon said...

Blessings, Brian... Quite a story I saw in a news update. I believe, especially from what you said, that Craig is well. It is you, and his other loved ones, who are left behind to deal. And, I am convinced you are doing so brilliantly - because that is who you are. I send along a prayer of comfort, blessing, and love. "May the Light of God surround you; May the Love of God enfold you; May the Power of God protect you." I'm sorry. Blessings and Love - Lysa

Brian said...

Thanks you guys. I have worked through the majority of my pain. Thanks WC.

Thinking contextually Lysa, Journey of Souls style, Craig was an older soul. Thinking he may reach out and touch his loved ones once the shock and grief begin to clear for them. I have to believe he is fine.

conservativesonfire said...

Brian, I wish i had some words of wisdom for you. I don't. I've been there too many times. The pain must run its course.

Patterson Family said...

Hey, Just wanted to let you know that I am one of Craig's daughters. And we all have been told that my brother Brian was named after you. He spoke of you often, and I still remember when we watched your grey cat =) thanks for the wonderful tribute to my father.

Brian said...

PF...Thanks tons! I forgot about that gray cat, Trooper, we named him. Wow, that was 1990.

I don't suppose you married one of Dennis' kids, did you?

Thanks so much for writing. You made my day.

Brian

Brian said...

http://realemotionalfreedom.blogspot.com/2011/02/grieving.html

Patterson Family said...

Hey, I actually married Randy Pattersons son. My mothers sister is married to dennis patterson so he is my uncle. If you feel like it we would love for you to write any memories that you feel like and send us copies we are trying to compile some for us to keep of him. Thanks again and Im sorry for your loss as well. I know he cared alot about you

Tamarah said...

I'm Craig's oldest daughter (child for that matter)and the only names that I can remember that my Dad worked with were you and Holeyoak (sp). I remember my family watching your cat. I remember it being huge (however I was young) and that it would climb up on really high things. Anyways, I was looking forward to seeing you at the funeral. I was informed that you were at the funeral and was sad that I did't get the chance to say hi to you. My Dad thought a lot of you. Thanks for the wonderful tribute.

Brian said...

Ha! I remember you Ta-Mar-ah. I looked over and saw Kent Holyoak yesterday and saw Ernie in front of me. Kent had a paramedic shirt on from Magic Valley I think and I could get to him and shake hands. Ernie was mired in the crowd. Saw Dennis and I was able to give him a hug.

I wanted to see all of guys but the turnout was so huge...I am thinking I will go to Carey and see you guys in a week or two when it is a little more personal and we have time. Let me know when might be a good time...and I will give ur mom and you a hug...thanks for writing...

Brian

Patterson Family said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian said...

Thanks T. I live in Boise. I am going to call you and delete your numbers from the blog only for privacy's sake. Thanks

Brian

jed said...

Brian Thank-you for writing this. I don't need to tell you that Craig always looked at you as one of his dearest friends. He would tell you that you made his life better. I did not know you as well as Craig did but I think you will remember me. I'm Jed, Craig's brother, and if you remember me you know craig and I talk about everything so I do know what Craig thought of you. YOU ARE A GOOD MAN AND A GOOD FRIEND THEY DON'T COME BETTER

Brian said...

Of course I remember you Jed.. although we only crossed paths a few times...thanks for all of your kind words. What a great crew your family is, God bless every one of you.