2018-02-10 / Viewpoints

Farewell, firefighter forever friend

BY BILL PEKARSKI


‘Allie’ Reese ‘Allie’ Reese (Bill Pekarski of Coudersport frequently writes profiles and community essays on a social media site. He is now reporting news and taking photographs for Endeavor News.)

I said a final goodbye to an old friend last weekend. “Allie” Reese and I both grew up in what was often referred to as the tannery area of west Coudersport in humble homes with large families.

I had the opportunity to see Allie just a couple of days before his passing. It was heartbreaking to accept the fact that his time was short.

We rode the same bus to school and spent large amounts of time during our formative years at the roller skating rink. I was a groomsman for his wedding, and he returned the favor at mine.

We shared good times and bad. Sunday Steelers football was always a priority for both of us. He was more than a friend -- he was a brother to me.

But one of our strongest bonds was serving together as volunteer firefighters. We faced fires together, walking in alive and coming out the same. We trained together, manned the barbecued chicken pit, and took quiet pride in serving our community.

Being a part of that organization was a special chapter of life that can only be understood by those who have experienced it.

So it was no surprise when our Coudersport Volunteer Fire Department brethren turned out in force to help provide a fitting send-off. Photos were spread all around the funeral home, reflecting moments of Allie’s life from his childhood right through to recent times.

Obviously, many memorable moments were not captured by any camera. We were far too busy enjoying our childhood adventures and each other’s company to even think about taking pictures. Such an awkward distraction would have diminished the experiences. It would have left us with mega-pixels instead of the vivid, precious memories that for years and years would generate a smile, a laugh, and occasionally a tear.

Perhaps the young people of today might want to consider that as they vainly snap away at the shutter of their smartphones for their selfies and “documentation” of every daily episode ad nauseam.

We lived in the moment and enjoyed being together. No electronic chatting, tweeting, texting and posting the trivial and inconsequential.

So what is the point of these ramblings? Experience life in the here and now. Enjoy the time you spend with your friends and truly communicate with those who are with you.

Farewell to Fordyce Allen Reese. It was a great ride and you will be missed, old friend. I pray that your family and friends find comfort in the coming days, weeks, months and years.

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