Contributing Works Stories

Icing on the Cake of Life

Everyone knows that family is important. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today, no matter the situation. We each have our differences, hardships, and struggles. We also have the good times, lessons that last with us for a lifetime, and things that connect us, even when we’re apart. Below is a letter from Teresa Canoy, proprietor of Harvest House in Ramseur, NC, to her late father, James “Boot” York, who was a fireman for Franklinville Fire Department.

Dear Dad,

Thirty years ago, November 10th was our last conversation about Christmas lights for the fire department. I wrote to you 19 years ago, that letter printed after 9/11. It being about your grandson, J.R. and him remembering you being a fireman, with his hopes of maybe one day becoming a fireman.

Dad, I tried so hard to be a son, always trying to prove myself of being tough, not just on the farm, but with many other life duties. When you became a grandfather, I saw the softer side. The overwhelming love you had for my son, and then my daughter, Jessica. You would be proud, Jessica has been a Jr. Fireman. J.R. now has a son of his own. Now I know how deeply grandparenting love runs. 

Dad, I was very wrong in my dislike of you and your involvement with the fire department. I know that you being a fireman and a grandparent was your Icing on your Cake of Life. Those were some of your best years. 

Dad, sitting here this morning, having just returned from a fire alarm and taking off turn-out gear, I’m understanding even more of the importance of all fire departments and what they do for the communities. Even though you are not here, I feel closer to you than I ever have. You leaving this earth at 46 years old was too soon. I’m proud to tell you at 56 years old, I’m working to have a brother-sister hood. I’m just a probie right now, but hope to honor what you started.

P.S. Hope I never forget the fire truck…I want to honor all of those who have given their time, talent, and their lives. When I look at the Senior Fireman, I’m humbled of all they have given. I look to the young fireman and feel so proud of them. I feel hope and pray not only for their dedication, but for their lives and all that they are giving. 

Dada, you taught me to be tough and to fight. I will not give up, I will stumble and I will fall. It will take me longer to stand back up than those younger ones, but I will stand and keep fighting. Thank you Daddy.

I want special thanks to all my loved ones that will be here to cover my ass and support me. I want to thank J.R. and Cortney for making me a grandparent. My cup runneth over. Thank you and love to Jessica and Josh for always being here for me. Josh, thanks for knowing how stubborn I can be, and talking to me about knowing my limits, so I don’t fall out and cause hardships on the team.

Thanks to the Ramseur Fire Department for making me feel safe, welcome, and allowing me a chance to be a part of your vital organization, that voluntarily helps others in time of need. I’ve been told there is always something anyone can do. 

I challenge everyone to check in with a local fire department. Volunteers are needed. 

P.S. I’m beginning to put the Icing on My Cake.



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