Friend, colleague, soldier, teacher, paramedic, convicted murderer, it would seem that one of these terms didn’t belong with the other. Well, allow me to tell you about a man named Dave Kaye. Dave was a flawed individual. A boisterous man who knew of the mistakes he made and never tried to hide from them. He instead chose to take another path and in the process proved that a man can change his destiny.
When I first met this man, I never expected that he would influence as many people as he did. First impressions would tell you that he was nothing more than an arrogant, loud, and abrasive person. Till he got to know you, he was a bit standoffish. But if you wanted to learn, and he knew something, he was always willing to teach. From advice to a laugh he gave what he could and we all remembered this today.
Allow me to explain something here. Illinois used to have a program that allowed prison inmates to become E. M. T.’s. It was a successful program that lead to many people turning their life around. This program is no longer active for many reasons, but it was a success. I am a firm believer that we need to find ways to help those who are convicted of crimes reintegrate into society. This is what Dave did.
Too many people found out about the bad part of who he had been and failed to recognize who he became. Dave owned his past, never making excuses or acting like someone else was to blame. Instead he chose to become better than that. I mention his past because unlike most paramedics, his legacy isn’t the lives saved or the families he comforted. His legacy is something greater, hope.
Hope is what he embodied. Hope that a man doesn’t have to be defined by a horrible mistake. Hope that choosing to be different can lead to a better place. Hope that redemption is possible. Dave lived the statement, YOU CAN BECAUSE I DID.
I come here saying this because on April 3, 2015, this man passed on to his eternal reward. In the back of the ambulance today taking him on his final trip, we laughed telling stories of this man. We all realized how he influenced us all. Too often we forget that the most important part of the journey is those who we teach and those we inspire. The end is that we are not ruled by the mistakes we made and we can all change. Dave my friend, rest easy brother and enjoy your rest, we have it from here.
As always thank you for reading,