Snow again. I got home between storms last night after a much needed visit with Mo at college. How great to have that time, just the two of us. She is so happy there in her new world away from home. Another reinvention of the girl we know. This is the other side of our Mo. Volunteer firefighter. She joined the fire department on her 17th birthday, the minimum age, the only girl. All her own idea, but especially determined after some of the boys at school said she could never do it, she has surprised everyone with her unwavering dedication and passion for firefighting. Many, many hours training on school nights, countless fire calls (some on school days), grunt work, dangerous work, sometimes terrifying, heartbreaking scenes. After a year of probationary status, she pursued extended training to be rated for the interior squad, knows how to use the jaws of life to rip off the top of a car, cut through a wall with a chainsaw and insists she can carry a man down a ladder. Her dad's response to that was "You'd have to call ahead for an ambulance because I'd have a heart attack on the way down." She's not all that big. Still, we are totally confident that she knows what she is doing along with everyone else on the call.
I don't even know who took this picture- it came through email about a year ago. But it was taken Feb 12, 2006. After a big blizzard with a foot of snow, she was outside cleaning off her buried car in case there was a fire call. Sure enough, the horn and her pager went off and our neighbor was yelling at the end of the street. The fire, a serious fire, was there- 3 houses away. Someone threw her gear on board and she met the truck at the fire. I remember her running down the street in sweats slipping and sliding in the snow. No coat.
Her helmet says Princess inside which is what they call her-- and she kind of is, a princess- an unfussy, tough one for sure, but princessy in the way that she knows she is special and adored. This photo captures that paradox pretty well, and I love so many things about it. That little bit of manicured thumbnail showing. The hair. All that gear they wear. The magical, swirling snow in the air. Her confidence and intensity. Interesting that she joined this fraternity after years of having mostly boys for friends, and yet she is still such a girl. Now rarely seen without mascara, we can't forget that at age 3, she fell asleep most nights with a cardboard sword and her pirate bandana. Yo-ho! was the answer for everything. When she was 5, she conducted her own neighborhood food drive with the red wagon and me in tow. One busy neighbor said sorry, he didn't have anything to donate. She asked if we could come in and help him look. Just a minute. He came back with a stack of cans.
The boundless imagination of a child, playing and pretending to be a force in the world. Isn't it exciting that a girl can be anything she wants to be? Test herself at such a young age and cut her own unexpected path. Scramble all the rules and then rewrite them to fit.....I mean, sorry, Paris Hilton, but that's hot! Over spring break, she is coming home to march in the department's St. Patrick's Day parade- no secret that she misses her family of firefighters as much as us. When school is finished for the summer, she will be right back here with her cherished band of brothers- volunteers and heroes every one, rushing off to jump on the truck, strap on helmet, mask, tank, and go inside. It's who she is. And we are so, so proud.