When Edward wasn’t answering his radio, why didn’t you send in a team to go get him?
Because it was too dangerous. The backup trucks hadn’t arrived yet, and with Edward in the building, I had one of two choices: try to send more men into a situation that would endanger all of them, or focus them on doing what we could from the outside to tame the blaze and keep Edward as safe as we could. As a father, I wanted to choose differently, but on the front lines, my son isn’t the only person I have to worry about. I have an entire crew of men that I’m responsible for, and as difficult as it was for me to do so, I had to make the choice that was best for all involved. Until those backup trucks arrived, I had no other choice.
In your career, have you ever lost a fellow firefighter during a call, or was Edward’s fall through the floor the closest you’ve ever experienced?
I’ve been a firefighter for thirty three long years. I’ve lost more friends and brothers in that period of time than I wish to count, so no, Edward wasn’t the closest I’ve ever come to losing a fellow firefighter. However, he is the closest I’ve ever come to losing one of my men since I became Chief five years ago.
Was it your desire to have all of your sons follow in your footsteps?
My sons were always free to make their own choices regarding what they wanted for their futures. Edward...I wouldn’t have stood a fighting chance trying to get him to choose something different. This was what he wanted, and as soon as he graduated, he went for it. Emmett, he bounced around a bit in high school wanting to do this, and wanting to do that, and Esme and I tried to encourage him to do it, but by the time he graduated and still hadn’t made up his mind, he chose for himself to enroll in the fire academy. He wanted to be where his brothers were.
Jasper, on the other hand, I might have pressured him a bit, but not specifically to join the department. He was twenty-one, engaged, talking about starting a life with someone else...when he was still living at home and working a minimum wage job. It was a constant battle with him trying to make him see that he needed to do something more with his life if he wanted to support a family and household of his own. We didn’t care what he did, but he needed to at least figure it out before he got married. Looking back, I shouldn’t have even suggested joining the department. I knew it wasn’t what he really wanted, but sometimes, that’s just a fact of life. Not everyone is passionate about, or even really enjoys their job. Sometimes your job is nothing more than a viable source of stable income, and that’s all I wanted him to achieve for himself. A stable income that could support himself and his wife, and in the future, their children.
If Edward was really as unhappy working with his brothers as it seemed, why do you think he never chose to apply to a different station?
I suppose it’s because Edward has worked with the men, and woman, in our station for ten years. He knows them, gets along with them, and most importantly, trusts them. That’s a hard thing to walk away from in our line of work. Changing stations would have meant having to start all over again with an entirely different group of people, learning to get along with them, and not only earning their trust, but having them earn his as well.
What exactly were you thinking after Edward exploded on you because he didn’t think anyone in the family really cared about him, and that he’d never done anything but disappoint you specifically?
I, um...the only thing I could really think was, how? How could he think he’d ever disappointed me, or that none of us cared about him. If you’d asked anyone we work with, or anyone I know outside of the job, they’d all tell you that he’s my pride and joy. He’s never given me a day’s worth of trouble that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for an adolescent kid. Even as a teenager, the worst he ever did was get caught drinking with his friends. He took his punishment without argument or complaint, and he never got caught doing it again—that’s not to say he didn’t do it, just that he didn’t get caught. My son is smart, but he’s no angel.
It really hit me hard to know he felt as if there was nothing of him for me to be proud of, but I think it hit me harder to know that it was my fault he felt that way. When my sons were young, I told them every day that I loved them and was proud of them and how much they meant to me, but as they grew older, it became less frequent that I said it with words. I never really stopped to think that they might need to hear it every so often, because I figured, at this point in their lives, it was just a given. My old man had been the same way. I guess it’s true what they say, no matter how hard you try to be better than your own old man, one day you wake up and realize, I’m just like him.
Through what’s been told of the story so far, it seems that Edward was the constant source of financial support for your other children. Why is that? Don’t you feel as their father that that burden should have rested more upon your shoulders than his?
If it was feasibly possible for me to have given Emmett and Jasper what they needed, every time they needed it, I absolutely would have done so. Esme and I have done what we could, given what we could when they needed it, but there have come times when we were incapable of doing so. Emmett and Rosalie’s home, for example. When they came to us about needing to move into someplace larger because they were starting a family, Esme and I didn’t have a dime left to our names to be able to give them. We were still paying off our portion of their wedding. Eventually we came to an agreement that Edward would help them, under the condition that they eventually paid him back. If they didn’t, Esme and I were planning on finding a way to return that money to him.
Jasper’s cars were another area where our hands were tied. We had run into some financial issues of our own after helping with little things here and there with both of our youngest sons, and after a while, it had drained us completely. We were just barely able to cover half of the cost of the car we, and Edward, purchased for him after his Mustang was repossessed.
Esme and I have done as much as we could, and probably more that we should have, given the circumstances. I’ve never been comfortable with Edward taking on such burdens, but he’s a grown man and he’s capable of making his own decisions. I can tell him to let them figure it out on their own so they’ll learn, but in the end, I can’t force him to not help them. I, nor Esme, have ever asked him to shoulder our, or their, responsibilities.