When I was 4 or 5 years old I could pronounce ANY new word I heard, perfectly the first time I would hear it (or so I’m told). My Dad would show me off like a party trick. It made all my siblings (who were all at least 11 years older than me) sick of hearing it. My brother-in-law, Skip, taught me how to pronounce “purple turkey” so that it sounded like “poypul toykey”. This was done to get under my Dad’s skin! It was so funny (for them) to see my Dad’s face the next time he pulled out his party trick (me) and tried to show me off, he was embarrassed that I couldn’t get that simple phrase right.
I’m sharing this because Skip is now in his final hours in hospice. He has been my brother-in-law for 49 years. He and his wife (my sister) were so integral to my development as a human being. Skip was an Omaha fire chief and paramedic. He was a deacon in his church. He was the consummate husband and father. By the way he led his life, worked hard, loved his wife and raised his kids, he gave me something to aspire to. While in medical school I was able to ride on his rescue squad at the busiest station in Omaha. What I saw in just one shift was unbelievable, yet confirmed my career choice.
To honor him, I plan to wear his “Omaha Fire and Rescue” uniform T-shirt to work on the day he is released from the constraints of time and finally goes home. So, if you’ve read this you’ll know why and you can say “poypul toykey” when you pass me in the hall. For those who don’t, I might get asked about it and I’ll have a chance, for one day, to talk about Skip – one of the best humans I have ever known.