She took her son's hand and asked, "Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?"
"Mommy," he replied, "I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up."
Later that day, she went to her local fire department in
Fireman Bob said, "Look, we can do better than that. If you'll have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll make him an honorary fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls - the whole nine yards! And, if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat - not a toy one - with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots. They're all manufactured right here in
Three days later, Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his fire uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station. He was ecstatic. There were three fire calls in
Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.
One night, all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital. Then, she remembered the day Billy had spent as a fireman. She called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition. The Chief replied, "We can do better than that. We'll be there in five minutes. Will you do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It's just the fire department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And, will you open the window to his room?"
About five minutes later, a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy's third floor open window. Sixteen firefighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room. With his mother's permission, they hugged him, held him and told him how much they loved him.
With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the Fire Chief and said, "Chief, am I really a fireman now?"
"Billy, you are. And the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand," the Chief said.
With those words, Billy smiled and said, "I know, He's been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing." He closed his eyes one last time.