I have been sitting in front of this monitor trying to figure out how best to start this entry. It’s not really a story one writes for entertainment. It has no plot, no protagonist and as is usual for a story, you should have a beginning, a middle and an end but then again, this isn’t really a story or is it?
Let me try this from the beginning, which I thought was today but it actually started last Tuesday and the end of this connects with something that happened a few months ago with my daughter.
So here goes:
Last Tuesday, my husband presented his MOTH story related to September 11th, 2001, at the 911 Tribute Center. Some of our friends, aka Tue-Crew, came to support him. Now I’ve known many of them from the first time I took my training at the 9/11 National Museum. We became a team on a Tuesday morning and it morphed into an amazing group of people that celebrate each other’s lives and friendships.
Fast forward to this morning.
One of my friends would send me an email this morning asking if I had an extra ticket for the museum because her daughter was writing a paper for one of her classes on 9/11/01. I scrambled to find my membership card, ran upstairs forgetting my coat, froze a bit before I got the ticket and all was well.
Within an hour, the young lady, walks up to me. I’m assuming she wants to thank me for the ticket. And it went like this:
Barbara M. made the intro’s.”This is Trish’s daughter, Dierdra.”
“Hi. Thank you for the ticket. Your husband told me to tell you something.”
Really now. What would my husband, who had done the unthinkable this morning by shaving his mustache off, have this beautiful young lady tell me? (Long story about the mustache.) I thought to myself, “Self, he just wants me to loosen up over the mustache issue and he’s using this very pretty young lady to do this. For shame!”
“You are most welcome,”I said. “What does my husband want you to tell me?”
Dierdra begins, “I was telling him that I understood about his line of work because of my dad. He asked me my dad’s name and when I told him _O’Boyle, he stopped for a moment and then asked me if I knew this name.”
I asked her what the name was.
She replied, “Frank Keegan.”
Everything around me stopped.
“How do you know Frank Keegan,” I asked.
“He’s my grandfather.”
Yes, I was speechless. If you know me, then you know my jar dropped.
“Wait,” I said. “If he’s your grandfather….”
Then I saw, my friend, Dierdra’s mom, Trish, walking over to me.
“If Franks her grandfather, then you are his….”
“Franks my dad.” exclaimed Trish.
Speechless again, several things happened at once.
I had to sit down first because this could not be happening.
Then I thought, what must be happening with my husband at this moment?
Then I asked Trish, “You and I have known each other for almost two years and I have been working alongside Frank Keegan’s daughter all of this time.”
Trish just kept nodding her head. Why didn’t we ever make the connection? I knew her last name was Keegan but why would I connect that to Frank? It just never crossed my mind.
I shared a memory with Trish. I could see she was tearing up.
“Your mom was the one that called me to break the news that your dad had passed. She didn’t know how to tell Joe.”
I could see the sadness in Trish’s eyes.
Dierdra would tell me her grandmother passed away five years ago. I’m not sure why this crossed my mind, but silently I thought to myself, “That’s why the Christmas cards stopped coming.”
I shared a bit more with them and I could see that Dierdra was also feeling a certain kind of sadness but the kind where a memory reminds you of a good person and now you were hearing about one more good thing about them.
I tried to get involved with the rest of my shift but it was nearly impossible. I could barely concentrate but I did my best until I could take it no longer and went to see my husband. The minute he saw me, he stood still.
“You know that I am getting together with some of the old guys from the job in a few months and I told you, it would have been great for Frank to see us. He didn’t know us all but I knew he’d remind them of the things I did. I knew they’d understand. It was the good ole’ days when being a cop was scary, exciting but what we were doing was the best thing in the world. We all have our very own Frank Keegan. But I had the best, the original and he came to me today, right now, he’s here. ” That’s a mouthful for my husband but you see, for as long as we have been married, he’s shared many of his experiences in the NYPD and he would usually end his story with, “Now if Frank was here, he’d probably say……”
We went to Frank and Frannie’s house a few times, and he came to ours. When he first met our daughter, he started to tell her about her daddy. When we explained to her who Frank was, she would say, “So that’s Daddy’s guy?” I didn’t quite understand that so I asked her to explain and she said-“Well Daddy is my first guy. He taught me a lot. Mr. Keegan is Daddy’s guy. He taught Daddy a lot too.”
And so Frank became Daddy’s guy.
But Frank was Joe’s first partner, his mentor and his first words to my husband on the first day on the job was. “Son, look out this window. You are looking at the Greatest Show on Earth. Now let’s learn something.”
Those were the words my husband used on me, on my first day on the job, as he called it. Except I was in an ambulance, not a patrol car. And I understood then, what Frank meant.
We had our break in the museum cafe. Pictures were taken and Joe was smiling. Gone was the stress we both had this morning from the horrible attacks in Belgium. News like this always brings us back to September 11th, 2001. We try to hard not to go to that dark place but go there we do because it allows us to fight through that darkness and then stand with those who are now dealing with what we did, fifteen years ago. But on the way to the museum this morning, Joe mentioned Frank. He said, “I’m kind of glad Frank doesn’t have to see me this way.” I knew what that meant but it was that kind of silence that speaks volumes.
Frank did see him today.
You cannot convince me that Dierdra being there as well as Trish and all of us finding out what we did today after almost two years of knowing each other, wasn’t Frank telling Joe, “I see you son. Now get on with your work.”
We weren’t planning on coming in this morning when we woke up. We had to walk through that darkness. Frank was waiting for us.
So this might be the ending for you but Trish had told me this morning that she was so taken by what Joe said last week and now that she knew both our stories she bought something for us. It was a gift of healing. The thing is, that a few months ago, my daughter bought me two chains. One was The Tree Of Life.
The plate included in the gift Trish gave me was The Tree Of Life.
Thank you Frank.