A Cops Story at Christmas
In 1974 when I first joined the police department, I new there would be
special occasions my family would spend without me. Knowing that fact didn't
make the task any easier. The
celebrations I missed that first year depressed me and sometimes made me
feel bitter. Working on Christmas Eve was always the worst.
On Christmas Eve in 1977, I learned that blessing can come disguised as
misfortune, and honor is more than just a word.
I was riding one man patrol on the 4x12 shift. The night was cold.
Everywhere I looked I saw reminders of the holiday: families packing their
cars with presents, beautifully decorated trees in living room windows and
roofs adorned with tiny sleighs. It all added to my holiday funk.
The evening had been relatively quiet; there were calls for barking dogs and
a residential false burglar alarm. There was nothing to make the night pass
any quicker. I thought ! of my own family and sunk further into depression.
Shortly after 2200 hours I got a radio call to the home of an elderly,
terminally ill man. I parked my patrol car in front of a simple Cape Cod
style home. First aid kit in hand, I walked up the short path to the front
door.As I approached, a woman who seamed to be about 80 years old opened the
door. He's in here she said, leading me to a back bedroom.
We passed through a living room that was furnished in a style I had come to
associate with older people. The sofa has an afghan blanket draped over its
back and a dark, solid Queen Anne chair say next to an unused fireplace. The
mantle was cluttered with an eccentric mix of several photos, some ceramic
figurines and an antique clock. A floor lamp provided soft lighting.
We entered a small bedroom where a frail looking man lay in bed with a
blanket pulled up to his chin. He wore a blank stare on his ashen, skeletal
face. His breathing was shallow and la! bored. He was barely alive.
The trappings of illness all aroun d his bed. The nightstand was littered
with a large number of pill vials. An oxygen bottle stood nearby. Its
plastic hose, with face mask attached rested on the blanket.
I asked the old woman why she called the police. She simply shrugged and
nodded sadly toward her husband, indicating it was his request. I looked at
him and he stared intently into my eyes. He seemed relaxed now. I didn't
understand the suddenly calm expression on his face.
I looked around the room again. A dresser stood along the wall to the left
of the bed. On it was the usual memorabilia: ornate perfume bottles, white
porcelain pin case, and a wooden jewelry case. There were also several
photos in simple frames. One caught my eye and I walked closer to the
dresser for a closer look. The picture showed a young man dressed in a
police uniform. It was unmistakably a photo of the man in bed. I knew then
why I was there.
I looked at the old man and he motioned with his hand toward the s! ide of
the bed. I walked over and stood beside him. He slid a thin arm from under
the covers and took my hand. Soon, I felt his hand go limp, I looked at his
face. There was no fear there. I saw only peace.
He knew he was dying; he was aware his time was very near. I know now that
he was afraid of what was about to happen and he wanted the protection of a
fellow cop on his journey. A caring God had seen to it that his child would
be delivered safely to him. The honor of being his escort fell to me.
When I left at the end of my tour that night, the temperature had seemed to
have risen considerably, and all the holiday displays I saw on the way home
made me smile.
I no longer feel sorry for myself for having to work on Christmas Eve. I
have chosen an honorable profession. I pray that when it's my turn to leave
this world there will be a cop there to hold my hand and remind me that I
have nothing to fear.
I wish all my brother's and sister's who! have to work this Christmas Eve
all the joy and warmth of the Season.
We have all been there. God bless you all.