My name is Jennifer Walsh. I was born on Staten Island in 1970 and lived there until 2002. My father, Mickey Dolinger, just passed away at the age of 64, this past Christmas Eve. He was a retired NYC Firefighter with 20 years on the job. It's my overwhelming respect and admiration for his FDNY brothers that inspires this letter.
My Dad was hospitalized for about 2 1/2 months and his firefighter friends were there for him, and my family, through it all. They visited him. They called him. They mowed his lawn. They took care of some of his affairs. They called and texted me regularly to see if I was OK. They were all friends since they were "probies" in the '80s and had stuck by each other's side all this time.
When my father passed away, I was devastated. I had wanted him to be waked in his FDNY dress uniform, but it was no longer in good condition. Somehow, on Christmas Eve, they got my Dad a dress uniform.
We all know how crazy busy the holidays are, especially Christmas Eve! And these men took turns driving, meeting up with each other, and passing the uniform along until they met up with my husband.
It meant the world to me that my Dad was able to be in his uniform one last time ... and for all time. They had said to me, "we don't take the word brotherhood lightly," and I saw that in action, right up until the end.
My Dad's brothers, all in dress uniform, ceremoniously took turns standing guard on either side of my father throughout the entire wake. I was overwhelmed by their true friendship, loyalty, integrity and dedication. During the eulogy, I remarked that I was so grateful that my Dad had these men, our Bravest, as his best friends, and I quoted a line from the movie Backdraft, "The funny thing about firemen is, night and day, they're always firemen."
No truer words could be spoken to describe them. They set forth a very strong example to my 20-year-old son: In such a divided time, there still are noble, honorable, loyal and selfless people around us.
People like this deserve to be recognized. A few of these FDNY men that helped me during this difficult time are George Edgeworth, Don Rudden, Nick Cicero and Frank Gasparino.
If you're lucky enough to have a fireman in your life, you're lucky enough.