February 28, 2009

Mike Patt

(My mom received this email from Mike Patt, a great friend from childhood who's a captain in the SFPD)

Dear Vicki,
I stumbled upon the special notes written by you and Sophie in the Chronicle today about Ray. I remember the day of his accident very well. Up until this time, I have chosen not to share a story I have for fear of opening wounds, or provoking more pain and heartache on top of what is already so cruel and brutal. Having never met Ray in person also tempered my enthusiasm to chime in. If you feel it is appropriate, maybe you can cut and paste this to "RememberingRay", as my tech abilities and the work computer are hampering the post. Here goes...

On that morning, I was working in the fire station, with the usual half of an ear toward the radio which dispatches units city-wide. I heard the call come in for a fall victim, with responding units and officers/medics I know personally. The Captain on scene it turns out is one of the most competent and "tough" in the city, bar none. As the day went on, the incident faded away in my memory, as so much goes on in this crazy city everyday. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would soon have cause to call the Captain and find out exactly what happened.

I actually saw the Captain in person before I had a chance to call, and eagerly inquired about the tragic accident, now knowing it was Ray who was hurt. The usual response to such inquiries is typically generic in nature, with a mundane description of circumstances and details. This time, however, my inquiry stopped the Captain in his tracks. His blank stare and obvious introspection caught my attention right away. "You knew that man Mike?" "Well, not exactly" I replied, " I know his wife and her extended family very well from childhood." Cap became very serious, and simply said... "Mike, he was the toughest patient I have ever seen in all my years on this job." " There was something about him that was so different." His eyes trailed off into the distance. I told him of Sophie and Rose, I could feel his heart break.

To this very day, when we greet each other at an incident, or cross paths at the firehouse, a certain feeling fills the air. It's a feeling of sadness, gratitude, and grief, all rolled into one. It's knowing any day could be your last around here. So in his own certain way, a man named Ray whom I've never even met helps me appreciate my own family each and every day. Thank you Ray, until we meet someday.