All Posts, The Way I See It|

Well here it is, the holiday season once again. It seems to sneak up on me every year as it does to many of us, I’m sure. This year it’s different, however. After 35 years on the PFD this is my first year of retirement. This is the first real year that I’ve not had to plan vacation time around Christmas or worry about having to work on the holiday.

All of us in this Association can relate to this feeling. We worked in a job that never had a day off, 24/7/365. There had to be a body in every seat on the apparatus or in every cruiser no matter what day it was or what the conditions were. That’s just the way it was…the way it is to the active members today. This type of schedule (one that doesn’t recognize nights, weekends and holidays as anything other than another shift that needs to be filled) takes a toll on a person over the long haul.

It also takes a toll on our families. Think of all the family celebrations that you missed over your career. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. We’d usually attempt to get the time off via vacation or subs but that wasn’t always possible. My anniversary was July 3rd. During my first 10 years on the fire department it was impossible for me to get that night off due to the crazy Fourth of July nights of the PFD during those days in the early eighties. My ex-wife didn’t know that I secretly loved working those nights due to the many fires in the City, but I really didn’t have a choice about working anyway.

But I digress; my thoughts here were of families. I think the holiday season reminds us of what’s truly important in our lives and there’s nothing more important than families. And although we’ve provided well for our families through our careers as police officers and firefighters our families have had to put up with some burdens due to our jobs that other families do not have to endure.

Missing Little League games or leaving family parties early because you have to work Saturday night are things our children may not have understood at the time. They probably didn’t understand when you were a little stricter than their friends’ parents when it came to curfews or not allowing them to stay out late with their friends, especially in Providence. They couldn’t possibly know what you responded to in the City the day or week before.

I know that my kids thought I was a terrible person when I would tell them not to go near certain neighborhoods. Because of what we’ve seen we’ve all probably put more restrictions on our kids than most parents, and although it was in their best interest, they felt unjustly persecuted. And I’d guess that most of our spouses could never understand why we felt so strongly about going into work so as to not let our brothers and sisters down, especially on the holidays. All this takes its toll over the years.

All these reasons are why I feel it is so important, as retirees, to put your family as the number 1 priority now that you’re retired – especially in the holiday season. Maybe it’s your 2nd wife (or husband) or maybe it’s your grandkids. It really doesn’t matter. Take the time to spend the time. Time is probably the one thing you short-changed your family of during those days of your police or fire service career and time is the thing you have less of now that you’re older so use it wisely. Spend it with those you love most!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year…and stay safe and healthy!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the monthly commentary “The Way I See It” are Tom Kenney’s and not necessarily those of The Providence Police & Firefighters Retirement Association.

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