As human beings, we go through a lot in this lifetime. Life hands us different incidents and experiences and these help shape us to be who we are. It is what we learn from these incidents and happenings that govern what a good human being is. We all know we change in the course of time. So ever look at someone and think you know them well? Well, this man’s story here will surely make you question everything you know about the people around you, especially the elderly…
What could be one of the most important careers when it comes down to public health and safety? Well, it would definitely be that of a firefighter. Firefighter crews not only extinguish a harmful and deadly fire threatening the lives of humans but also give medical assistance to those who are in need. Douglas Marks was right here was one of those remarkable men.
Well, on one such trip to the Marks’ home in July 2014, there was a discovery that the firefighters made that surely changed their perception of the guy. On that particular day, these men would learn something about the old man’s real identity. It was something that none of them could have ever assumed judging from how he was and behaved. It was indeed a big shock.
The people living in Decatur, Georgia named Douglas and Maxine were residing in a house that was in need for quite a few urgent repairs. It was almost as if the house was a reflection of the former’s poor health too. All this took place in the summer of the year 2014. This was truly one of the hardest times the couple had to live through in the course of their lives…
Calling A Lot
The house was not the only thing that needed to be attended. The owner of the house Douglas was having an array of complications regarding his health. The man was now 82 years of age. He had also suffered from a number of strokes and was living with dementia and emphysema. Since her husband constantly needed the help of fire fighters, Maxine would call the local fire station frequently.
Growing In Number
The department had their first station situated on the North Decatur Road. However, it then took about 12 years for the second station in Brookhaven, Georgia to be set up and operated from. So during the mid-1950s, DeKalb County had no fewer than nine fire stations in and around. This number has increased a lot and has now amounted to 26 stations today.
Duty Of Firemen
DeKalb County’s Fire Station Nine like we had mentioned, would receive a lot of call from Maxine. And one day, she had to make one of these calls for assistance once again. She asked if the station could send out firefighters to help her husband. Since they were living alone and they were quite aged, she could not attend to her husband’s needs quite as well as she needs to.
“I don’t know how many firemen have been in my house,” she later revealed in an interview she gave that took place in the month of July back in 2014. Since she called the firefighter often, they also knew the couple quite well now. Whenever they dropped in for their visits, Douglas would be given the medical aid he needs and his wife would be looking on from the side.
Who Was He?
It is funny because, we often find ourselves being with or spending time with some people, but we never truly know who they are. So even for these firemen, they were not really aware of who this couple was, nor had they ever thought of asking. So even though they were frequently visiting the house, these firefighters never actually knew who Douglas was because it had never crossed their minds to ask.
The firefighters had gone to their house so many times that they did become quite friendly with each other. And who can blame them? If you visit or meet people quite a few times, it is natural to just start being a little friendly and comfortable with one another. However, even though they were friendly, DeKalb County workers did not know the kind of people the old couple truly was.
It Would All Change
The more you spend time with someone, the more you are bound to know about them, little by little. So what the firefighters did not anticipate was that htis particular day, they would get to uncover a shocking truth behind Douglas’ identity. One particular conversation held with wife Maxine changed what they saw about the couple. This information truly shocked them…
So what information could have possibly given these workers such a surprise? Well, after speaking to his wife and asking her about their past, she revealed that Douglas actually had a lot of things in common with the men who kept coming for his medical aid. Douglas was actually a former fireman of DeKalb County’s Fire Station Nine. He was even given the rank of lieutenant.
Douglas’ Past Life
So the firefighters were shocked to learn that Douglas had arrived at the station all the way back in 1960. He was also their 38th crew member. There was another very impressive fact about Douglas’ past. It turns out, he was actually the first paramedic to be employed by the county. After a long 25 year stretch of fighting flames and rescuing people, the firefighter took a retirement and lived in Decatur.
Receiving The News
So, even though they had stepped foot in their household for so many time, the firefighters had never imagined that they would have such a big thing in common with this man they had been helping. So as soon as they learned about his past career, the firefighters felt an even greater connection with Douglas and his wife. They were in a way, the same people after all…
More Info Please
As soon as they learned of his fire fighting career, the men were glad that they had been assisting a man they could learn a lot from. “Once we found out that he worked for DeKalb, naturally we were drawn in to find out more about him,” firefighter David McBrayer informed the interviewers that asked him about how they felt after the huge revelation back in July of 2014.
Some Other News
Maxine had revealed to the fire fighters that her husband was actually once serving as a fire fighter too so the workers wanted to now tales about him more. They were asking if they could get some more information about the old gentleman that they should know about. Little did they know that the man who was now in need of their help was actually a savior to many.
A Bond, A Connection
Not only was he one of their seniors that had worked in the stations they were serving from today, Douglas was also special for another reason. After a little investigation, the worker soon realized that Douglas was actually the oldest living firefighter from DeKalb County. Since he was 82 years of age., there was no other ex-firefighter that crossed his age in the area.
A Big Inspiration
“Even though we didn’t work with Mr. Marks, we have that bond with him, if that makes sense,” Captain Shane Jones later revealed in an interview he gave, speaking about how much they connected with Douglas. “We know what he did because we’re now doing the same thing,” he added, talking about how he serves as an inspiration for all of them.
A Respectable Man
After learning so much about Douglas and his fire fighting days that afternoon, it left a huge impression on the men. They were now, more than ever, interested in doing something good for the elderly couple. The fire fighters felt like Maxine and Douglas should be helped out in some way. After all, he was such an excellent serviceman to the public during his younger days…
So after having the conversation about Douglas’ past career, they workers felt a sentimental connection to the couple. The men and the two of them started to build much stronger friendship thereafter. So the firefighters felt much more comfortable and soon noticed that Douglas’ house was in desperate need for renovation. They were aware that the couple was not going to be able to fix this themselves.
A Decision To Help
The couple was living in a house that was falling apart bit by bit. Their housing condition was certainly not in the best condition that it could be in. However, since the 82-year-old was confined to his wheelchair, the DeKalb County workers felt it was their duty to do the work for Maxine and Douglas. The old couple could barely take care of one another so housekeeping was not a priority.
Since all the men were busy working and doing whatever needed to be done in and around the city, they had to make time for the old couple in their busy schedule. So, for every time the did not have to report for duty, the firefighters would make their way to Douglas and Maxine’s house. There, they would then look for anything that demanded a little fixing up.
Getting To Work
The fire fighters did not waste any time to help Maxine and Douglas. They just wanted to help improve their living condition as much as they could. So what exactly did they do? The workers went ahead and built a new deck just outside the property of the couple. They made sure to build a wheelchair ramp for the former DeKalb County man. This was just the beginning…
“We were worried about [Maxine] falling,” Captain Jones explained, on his interview back in the month of July in 2014 speaking on the couple’s old decking and ramp. “It was at a pretty steep angle,” he added. Keeping this on their mind, the men initiated the work and so began the work of revamping the house that Maxine and Douglas lived in. But this was no laughing matter, it was tough work.
A Tough Job
“They had me screwing deck boards down and hauling lumber,” firefighter McBrayer revealed to interviewers after they had completed the job and even added, “I think we spent about ten hours that day [working on the house].” However, even after they finished up with all of their work, there was still some other thing that the fire fighters wanted to do for Douglas and Maxine.
Faced An Issue
After discovering that the couple’s roof was also in major need for repairs, the men knew they had to get into action soon. This was not all, even the house itself had to have new flooring and insulation installed as soon as possible. But although the DeKalb County firemen were open to helping the elderly couple, there was a huge obstacle coming their way. Their calculations were piling up too much exceeding their budget…
So it turns out, even though the men wanted nothing more than to just give the whole house an upgrade, things were not going smoothly as they had intended or planned. And when Captain Jones was asked, he revealed that the funding for the materials needed to get things going was not easily possible. This was unfortunate because the in terms of manpower, they were quite abundant.
Had To Brainstorm
We all know that construction needs proper planning and budgeting. Even though an idea is good, if you do not have the means to purchase the materials, then the idea is of no use at all. This was exactly what the men renovating Maxine and Douglas’ house were facing. So they knew something had to be done, so they were not against receiving donations from the public for their project to finish.
No Hope Lost
Even though their obstacle was not a small one, it did not lead the firemen to lose hope. They knew something had to be done for the former fighter and his wife. So Captain Jones again explained the main reasons why he and his men were so keen on helping the 82-year-old out. Their main reason for this is because they wanted to pay him back for his impressively long service.
“Firemen have a tendency to stick together,” Captain Jones explained, speaking about the work mechanize he and his men follow. He then added, “So for [Douglas] to be here for 25 years, and give 25 years of his life here, we wanted to give a little something back to him.” The crew desperately wanted to fix the home of the ill former fighter they had grown so close to.
Hard Work Didn’t Go Unnoticed
Since the firefighters had worked so hard to make their home a better place, their dedication and efforts were not ignored by Maxine. After the men had successfully built the decking and wheelchair ramp, she paid them back in an way the men truly deserved. “I cooked corn, green beans, collards, sweet potatoes, macaroni cheese [for them],” she revealed to interviewers later.
Did Not Stop There
For a bunch of men who are not even closely related to you to take time off of their demanding and hectic work schedule to fix your house, Maxine was incredibly grateful. After giving back in the only manner she knew how to, she made sure to thank each and every person who had come to work on her and Douglas’ house. The renovation would not have been possible otherwise.
Just Like Family
In life, there are a few people who become so precious to us that we consider them as close to us as our blood relatives. For Maxine, this would be these few men who took time to fix her and her husband’s fragile home. “Since I know these guys, I hug them [because] they’re like my family too,” she admitted. After all this happened, the couple and the fighters from Douglas’s old station continued their camaraderie.
A Helping Hand
The firefighters were in a way, the guardian angels for this old aged couple. If anything were to happen to Maxine or Douglas, like they fell or were in need of help at all, these men were quick to get to them and assist in any way possible. These men were truly a valuable asset in the lives of the couple as they provided so much help. The men also wanted to pay their respects to Douglas as he was an inspirational veteran.
The Care Never Stopped
The men also went ahead and took care of their garden. Since the old couple could not tend to their garden anymore, it was in grave need of fixing. This was highly appreciated by the couple, more than the men ever expected. The couple lost the feeling of loneliness knowing that these men were here to take care of them now. They knew they were safe but the next incident took the firefighters by surprise…
Unfortunately during the spring of 2016, the friendship that had blossomed between the couple and the group of loving firefighters took a tragic turn. Douglas passed away leaving behind his wife and the boys he had become so close to. Since he was suffering from dementia and emphysema, Douglas lost his life, so the DeKalb County and Maxine would have to go on without him…
After Two Years
After about 2 years since the DeKalb County Fire Station Nine had received a series of calls from the helpless elderly woman from Decatur, Georgia, something happened. The group of workers learnt about her husband being the longest living ex employee of theirs so that lead to a beautiful relationship. This story proves that friendship knows no bounds, that communication is always the key to building a strong bond.
Still Not Forgotten
Even after Douglas the ex fireman passed away, the DeKalb County Fire Station Nine crew still visited Maxine frequently. They always made sure they could be of help, to always provide assistance in any way they possibly could. A plaque had been put up in his honor. The men will never forget the man who had done so much in keeping the place they lived safe for so many years for the locals…