I come across all sorts of people every day. You probably do, too. Sometimes, I just have short two- or three-sentence conversations while standing in line at the post office, or other times longer exchanges while doing a myriad of things throughout the day. I pretty much talk to everyone.
My friend Nancy recently insisted I have a conversation with a friend of hers, telling me what an incredible human being this gentleman was. She specifically wanted him to tell me a particular story that took place many decades ago. So, I called him one night.
In a world where it seems lately that no one cares about anyone but themselves, chatting with this man and listening to him re-tell the very story my friend wanted him to share was such a breath of fresh air. And couldn’t we all use just a few breaths of fresh air lately in this broken, chaotic, discouraging world?
Yep, I thought you’d agree.
His name is Jim, and he says he’s just an ordinary guy.
It was several decades ago, Jim said – 43 to be exact. He was out enjoying a beautiful summer day in his yard in Chesterfield Township, when he suddenly heard a high-pitched scream. He glanced over his fence and saw that his neighbor was yelling frantically for help. He didn’t know what was going on, but his intuition kicked in and he knew something was not right, and he needed to get to him. Jim immediately hurdled three fences without effort and realized that one of his neighbors’ two-year-old twin boys had fallen into Lake St. Clair. The young boy’s father pulled him out of the water by his diaper, and was then leaning over his son on the ground. At that point, he was already blue and no longer breathing. Jim took over and quickly administered life-saving CPR to the little boy, and says he eventually gurgled up some water, and opened his eyes. Jim picked up the little boy who was now awake, and the paramedics arrived shortly afterwards.
Jim has kept this story and the certificates he received recognizing his heroic efforts safely tucked away for many decades. He says he often thinks about the little guy, his brother, and their Dad, and hopes they are doing well.
I later learned that Jim was a dedicated and highly respected firefighter with the Chesterfield Township Fire Department from 1977 to 2012. According to his son, this was only one of many selfless acts during his 37 years of service, including once when he performed CPR on someone walking into church for Mass. Jim’s son (also Jim), says his Dad “remains humble and always ready to leap into action,” even in his retirement years. He attributes the high values and morals instilled in he and his six siblings to his Mom & Dad, and says his Dad is truly a “modern day hero,” as well as the very reason he chose to follow in his footsteps and become a firefighter. Thirty-three years later, he still loves his job.
“Love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life.” (Quote by Jim Schafer)
Jim had been trained by the American Red Cross in Basic Life Support skills, and he encourages everyone to get training in basic life-saving skills. “You never know when someone is going to need you,” he adds. And I couldn’t agree more!
“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
1 Corinthians 10:24
You might think you’re just an ordinary guy, Jim – but it seems to me you’re quite EXTRAORDINARY ! Thanks for hurdling those fences and helping your neighbor, and thanks for being such an encouragement, and a breath of fresh air to all of us!
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