coincidence??

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At the beginning of last week a couple of cancellation notices for Tribute Center tours appeared in my inbox. I decided to take those two tours as I wasn’t scheduled to give any walking tours this week or next. But let me give you a little back story that plays into this story. A friend who is now a Pastor in Irwin had invited me to speak to his congregation. So on September 12 I drove from my daughter’s home to the Irwin, PA which is just outside of Pittsburgh. My friend had mentioned that maybe on Saturday afternoon, we along with his wife and three young children could drive to Shanksville, PA to the United 93 Memorial. I agreed that I would like to visit the Memorial again as I had been there in August of 2011. I had seen the Memorial Plaza but the rest of the Memorial and the visitor center were not completed until this September.

I arrived in Irwin a little later than originally expected but after a lovely late lunch we drove the hour to Shanksville. My friend and his wife asked if I could explain a little bit about United 93 so their children would understand where we were going. Their adorable children are very young – 2 1/2, 6 and 7 years-old. In the simplest of terms I spoke of bad men taking over a plane and how the people on the plane knew the bad men were going to do something really bad and hurt many people so they tried to stop them. I said the plane crashed and that was very sad. We talked about what a Memorial is.  I mentioned also that it is safe and fun to go on airplanes.

When we arrived we walked through the new area. A National Park Ranger informed us we had arrived too late to go in the visitor center. Since I am not one to “play the 9/11 card” it was sometime later when I realized this may have been the occasion to say “I am a 9/11 family member.”  The weather was not the best and we were getting cold. Anyway we drove down to the Memorial Plaza area. My friend again asked if I could explain so his children understood. In the Memorial Plaza area there are posters that show photos of the 40 people killed on United 93 as well as other information. I called the children over to show them the photos of the passengers. I pointed to Todd Beamer and Jeremy Glick and commented that these were two of the men that helped to take the plane back. I comment that all the people were brave. I mentioned that these two people went to my cousin’s church (actually my husband’s cousin’s church).Look! All the people in the photos are smiling that is how their families want to remember them. My friend’s 7-year-old  daughter, Sarah * said “this lady is wearing flowers.” I looked and realized the woman was from Hawaii. And upon further investigation we realized there were two ladies wearing flowers, two ladies from Hawaii. I talked about leis and how beautiful the ladies looked. How far away Hawaii is. I mentioned let’s look for this lady’s name when we go up to the wall. Sarah read the name “Christine”. As we walked towards the wall we stopped and looked on the shelves where people left remembrances. “How many flags?” “How many bracelets?” At one point the children were running ahead. My friend was concerned that they weren’t showing respect or were disturbing other people. I said “They are being children. Children are our hope. As a 9/11 family member I am fine with the way they are acting. Now if they were 10 or 12 years old that would be a different story.” When we arrived at the wall we found Christine’s name there were flowers in front of her name.

Fast forward to Thursday as I finish my tour a woman comes up to thank me. She is obviously upset and I ask if she is okay and she mentions she lost a good friend on flight 93. In conversation I realize her friend is Christine. I tell her of a little girl named Sarah who paid respect to her friend Christine. We hugged. And not for the first time and I pray not for the last time I was blessed by the amazing “coincidences” God allows me to experience.

*Sarah is not her real name. FYI: I was able to share this story with my friend and we are all amazed and will never forget Christine.

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As I was leaving house to run errands before my haircut appointment, I realized that I might have time to drop a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul Volunteerism and Giving Back at my friend JoAnne’s house. I wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. I hadn’t seen her in quite awhile but knew she would be excited about my published story. I grabbed a copy and smiled to myself as I thought oh, no, nothing like a little self promotion. Well at least I didn’t pick up a sharpie. My sister says “you should always carry a copy of the book and a sharpie.” I don’t think so. 🙂 Anyway, I completed the few errands in record time and still had time before my haircut appointment. What should I do? Get the car washed, run in the A&P quickly or drop the book off? Suddenly dropping the book off seemed a little out of my comfort zone. It seemed too much like self promotion. Hmm!  let me do a non-perishable grocery shopping. It seemed familiar but strange to be grocery shopping where I had always shopped when I had owned my studio. I got a cart and start picking up items I needed. What else do I need. Coffee! I turned left out of the aisle heading towards the coffee aisle and who is pushing a cart and heading towards me. JoAnne. Through the years I would run into mom’s of my students or former students but never JoAnne. I don’t know which of us was more surprised. We hugged. I told her about my story being published and how I had a copy in my car for her. She was thrilled. I smiled and was grateful that I had listened to that still small voice. 

One proud mama

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I am extremely proud of both of my daughters. They have shown grace, courage, determination and compassion through our September 11 journey. I have full confidence that Bruce would be proud of them, too. I have my younger daughter’s permission to share her Facebook post from today. What makes me sad is in 3 years the same thing will be true for my older daughter. She will have lived as long with her Dad as without her Dad. 

In the 14 years I knew you, I learned to always finish your plate, work hard, be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. I learned how to read a map, the difference between an oak and a maple tree, to enjoy the outdoors and always know where the nearest exit/fire extinguisher was. I don’t ever remember you being scared and I have lots of memories of you singing and telling stories/jokes. The smell of coffee in the morning and a good piece of crumb cake will always remind me of you. I watched you have compassion on strangers, offer a meal to a passing-through hiker and a helping hand with the neighbors. I loved how you could seemingly fix anything, though you were also a little accident prone (I believe you asked me on more than one occasion “don’t tell mom I broke [fill in the blank]”). You were my playmate, confidant, and hero but mostly just my dad. I’ve been dreading today- 14 years ago, I was 14 & had no idea how my life would change. I love you and am blessed to have had such a Godly example for a father. I am saddened that half my life has been without you but overjoyed to be able to teach your grandson many of the things you taught me. #remembering #FDNY #joycomesinthemorning

One of my favorite photos taken in March 1990 on the occasion of Bruce’s FDNY swearing in.

 

Random Updates

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In April  of 2013  I submitted a mediation to The Upper Room for possible publication. Tomorrow it is the September 11th reading. It has been published in their September – October 2015 devotional booklet. They graciously asked me to submit a blog for tomorrow as well. The meditation will be available tomorrow at http://devotional.upperroom.org/ and the blog at http://devotional.upperroom.org/blog.

 

I am speaking at Norwin Church of the Nazarene on Sunday September 13 at 10:40am. 110 Clay Pike
North Huntingdon, PA 15642.

 

chicken soup

 

My story “Unexpected Blessings” is in Chicken Soup for the Soul Volunteering & Giving Back. My friend Sonia Agron also has a story in the same book.

 

teaching children about September 11, 2001

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Through my volunteer work with the 9/11 Tribute Center I have had the amazing opportunity to share my story and story of September 11, 2001 with the next generation. I have spoken to school groups while sitting on the floor in gallery 5 of the Tribute Center or via the internet to classrooms in  another state or standing in a classroom in New York or New Jersey. Each time I am struck with what an awesome responsibility it is  to tell the facts and person to person history of the day that changed the world. As the 14th anniversary approaches I have included a list of resources that you may find helpful in teaching the children in your life about that tragic day.

9/11 Tribute Center has resources for parents and teachers – http://tributewtc.org/education/resources/for-parents

National September 11th Museum also has resources – https://www.911memorial.org/youth-and-families

Below are some books that appropriate for children. Please read the suggested ages in the book reviews on Amazon before reading a particular book to a child. The first six listed here are appropriate for elementary aged children. The other books are appropriate for older children. Please monitor what information your teens are finding online and don’t forgot to engage in real conversation with your teens about the events of that day. 

 

Related posts –

https://missannsays.com/2014/02/05/but-why/

https://missannsays.com/2012/02/18/respect-in-the-real-world-part-2/

 

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At the first anniversary there was a sense of needing to do the “right” thing, the appropriate thing, the expected thing. I am so grateful to a friend who said “do what you want to do” and we did. Meghan and I traveled to Quincy, MA to be with Emily who had just started her freshmen year of college. We attended chapel on campus, then drove down to the waterfront and sat and talked about Daddy (Bruce), we prayed, we cried and we wrote in our “things we would have told you” book – a recap of the year. Later, we ventured into Boston for lunch. I remember we stumbled upon numerous television crews at Nathaniel Hall and not knowing if we should laugh or cry, we kept our distance. We wanted to just be a mom and her daughters missing their dad/husband not 9/11 family members. There was something surreal about the day as there has been something surreal about so many days.

As the years have passed the advice of that friend “to do what you want to do” has proven to be excellent advice. Some years I have taken part in local ceremonies in Greenwood Lake or Rochelle Park or attended unique opportunities like ringing the bell at the NASDAQ or the concert at the Beacon Theatre.  I don’t venture to the National September 11 Memorial ceremony because I don’t think I can take on the grief of all those people. We don’t always write in the “things we would have told you” book anymore. We aren’t necessarily physically together because one daughter lives in Seattle and the other in PA.

This Friday will mark the 14th anniversary. I haven’t decided what I want to do this year. This year is a tricky year because my one daughter has now lived 14 years with her dad and 14 years without him and that breaks my heart. It seems harder this year because I have so many Tribute Center friends and I carry their stories as well. A few things that were true on the first anniversary are true on the 14th. I will talk to my daughters and I will tell them how very proud their Dad would be of them and I will remind them that he loved them so much. I will ask them to remember to pray for the other families, and the Squad 41 firefighters.  I will thank God for His faithfulness, my family and friends. And we will wish that we were just a mom and daughters missing their dad/husband who died in the line of duty and not 9/11 family members because a personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy adds so many layers.

 

Forever Remembered

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Welcome To My World

There’s no way to avoid it.

It happens every year.

I think about other things

But this day begins to appear.

It happens very subtly,

A song, a picture or two

And then I begin to remember,

A sky … oh so blue.

You woke up that morning

Said your goodbye’s

Little did you know

Hours later you would die

I didn’t know your name

Never met you in fact

But you were with my friends

That were there and never came back

It’s been 14 years since last I enjoyed a blue sky

It’s been 14 years since many of us  said goodbye

I’d like to know that you’re okay

Looking from above

Knowing that you are truly missed

By all those you love

Forever Remembered

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