Chapter 0ne: Love shows up in the weirdest places…
Love shows up in the weirdest places…
People call me Jake, but my real name is John Joseph Johnson. Only God knows what my parents were thinking that day. My brother is named after my dad, so he’s the junior. Then my two sisters, Suzette and Patsy. I was the “surprise,” and my mom said she made sure there would be no more “surprises.” When I was born, they decided to use both of my grandfathers’ names and so my name became “John Joseph Johnson.” My brother started calling me “Jake” almost from the day they brought me home and I am forever grateful to him.
I’ve always been fascinated with fires, how they start and how they are put out. I remember once I almost burned the house down trying to see how long it would take to put out a couch fire. My mom “counseled” me severely about the perils of setting the couch on fire, as well as its collation with prison. She said I’d better become a fireman when I grow up because otherwise, I will go to jail for arson. So, it made sense that immediately after graduation I joined the Navy and became a Damage Controlman, the Navy’s equivalent to a fire-fighter. After training, I spent the next eight years fighting all types of fires – at sea and on land. During the last two years of my naval service, I worked with the base firefighters as a member of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) team. In my spare time, I earned my EMS certification. Since leaving the service, I have been an EMS in Greenwood, SC working with the fire department for the last two years.
I’m telling you this because, in all of my years of fighting fires, I have to say, I have never
experienced such a disastrous fire as this one. The Wilkerson place was one of the largest fires anyone can remember in this town. The blaze of the fire shot so high in the air that it caused an orange hue along the pitch-black sky that could be seen for miles. Smoke so dense it was hard to see. The heat was intense. Everything was burning. Everything!
That night, ten years ago, I met Marissa. Today is our seventh anniversary and as I sit on the porch watching Marissa and our daughter Cassie, I remember how I fell in love with her that night. I knew then there was something really special about her. That fire was a tragedy, but that night was the beginning of my life with Marissa.