31 May 2011
27 May 2011
This is a weekend dedicated to remembering. A major part of Beverly’s life after 9/11 involved remembering Sean. Her efforts to support various measures to make the country safer were one way of leaving behind a lasting and positive legacy for Sean. But she also established a number of physical reminders of her husband’s life and loss. In January 2009, just a few weeks before she died, Beverly wrote a detailed description of the various memorials she had created in memory of Sean. On this solemn weekend, here is her account.
To everything there is a season:
A time to plant, a time to reap;
A time to laugh, a time to weep;
A time to be born; a time to die.
February 15, 1951-September 11, 2001
I also planted four cherry trees at Daskam Park in Stamford in October of 2001. I wanted something I could see every day (I passed the park on the way to work), and I wanted something that would bloom. I also scraped and painted the three old park benches there because they were very dilapidated. They need painting again, but the Parks Department keeps telling me they are going to put new benches, there but they haven't done so to date.
My neighbors indicated they wanted to plant a tree in memory of Sean, too, and so I selected the green spruce that is also in Daskam Park. That was dedicated in the summer of 2002.
I added ten more trees to the grove at Cove Island Park in August of 2006, but those trees, plus the original ten that I had planted, were all killed when Hurricane Ernesto came up the East Coast and caused a big tidal surge that flooded the park with salt water from Long Island Sound. The trees all turned brown within a few days. I had just added the permanent brass plaque, imbedded on a big stone. The inscription was a variation of the original, I left off Sean's birthdate this time and added "This Grove Was Planted In Memory of...”
The following spring, when it was clear the trees weren't going to sprout, I brought a dolly to the park, rolled the stone with the plaque imbedded on it onto the dolly and wheeled it up a hill over to the edge of the cliff and dropped it over the edge into the ocean. I couldn't think of what else to do with it – the plaque mentioned a grove of trees and I knew that I would never plant another one. Right after that I gave permission to the Parks Department to take down the dead grove. It is now a bare stretch of grass.
Also in 2006, I planted two more cherry trees in Daskam Park and had a permanent brass plaque installed there on a rock as well. It says:
TREES IN PARK
PLANTED BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
IN MEMORY OF
AND ALL WHOSE LIVES WERE LOST ON
SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001
The four original cherry trees, and the green spruce, are all doing well and the 2 new trees have survived and are doing OK, although this winter someone has broken 3 lower branches off one of the new cherry trees.
In the summer of 2002, I commissioned a mural at the train station. It's a stylized version of Sterling Farms Golf Course, the public course in Stamford where Sean loved to golf. In the summer of 2006, I painted a rock on the wall and had an imitation brass plaque affixed to it. It says:
Mural of Sterling Farms Golf Course
Commissioned in Memory of
Sean Rooney (Died 9.11.01)
Artist Jesse Mann
In 2003 the City of Stamford and the Keep America Beautiful Foundation's Stamford office decided to create a memorial for Sean at the train station. It is a tree, a bench, a short brick path, some low evergreens and a flagpole. This past summer, in 2008, I planted two cherry tree saplings there. There is a rock with a brass plaque on it. I was there today, brushing the ice and snow off the plaque. It says:
Died September 11, 2001
Neighbor, Commuter, Friend.
There are three trees at the Amherst Memorial Grove in Amherst, NY that are dedicated to Sean, with plaques – one from me, one from my family and one from Sean's family. They were planted during the summer of 2002. My plaque reads something like:
The beauty of nature quiets the soul
And lessens the pain that man's inhumanity
Inflicts upon man.
In Memory of Sean Rooney
The original tree I bought for Sean died and was replaced. All three trees, plus most of the other trees in the park there, were all damaged in an ice storm in October in 2007. My tree now looks more like an umbrella than a Crimson King maple.
Last summer an engraved paving stone was installed along the walkway of the Roycroft Campus' "Appian Way." Sean hand I were married in my sister's backyard, within walking distance of the Roycroft Inn, and we stayed there on our wedding night. Sean had also worked there as the restaurant manager at one time in the 1970s. The plaque doesn't mention September 11th. It says:
VOICES AND LAUGHTER, RISING ON STILL AIR
IN A LIGHT THAT SEEMS TO PARALYZE TIME.
SEAN ROONEY, WE REMEMBER YOU.
There is a small paving brick with Sean's name and date of death on it at Hope Park in Stamford, which is a large traffic circle with trees on it. The Glenbrook Neighborhood Association sponsored the laying of memorial bricks for anyone who wanted one there.
24 May 2011
20 May 2011
17 May 2011
January 29, 2005I completed the enclosed compilation to commemorte Sean's birthday on February 15, 2005. Editing these stories was a difficult and time-consuming process but, as with everything I have done in my life since September 11th connected to Sean, it was a labor of love.Although I dreaded reliving the events of that day and its aftermath, I wanted to ensure that the story of Sean's life, courageous death and the journey on which those events propelled me would be preserved.Everything depicted by these stories, I did for Sean.Beverly
14 May 2011
09 May 2011
07 May 2011
05 May 2011
02 May 2011
In the summer of 2005, Beverly embarked on a long sailing voyage on her tri-maran sailboat, Never Land, captained by Shawn Monks. In all, they traveled about 1,200 miles, from Florida to the Bahamas and back, and then up the Atlantic seaboard to Stamford. Along the way, Beverly kept friends and family informed of her progress, excitedly telling of whale-sightings, nautical mis-haps, and relaxing anchorages in the Caribbean sun.
On July 18th, Beverly composed a description of the final leg of the journey. It was one of the few instances she mentioned Osama bin Laden.
As we entered NY Harbor, we passed the Statue of Liberty and then the section of Manhattan where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Sean is always with me in spirit, and he felt especially near at that moment. It's always painful to be at Ground Zero, but sailing past the location of the attacks while standing on the deck of my own boat, knowing that in contrast, bin Laden was hiding in a cave, made me feel something of a sense of triumph over terrorism.
In late 2008 and early 2009, Beverly and I worked intensively on recording her recollections about her work as a 9/11 activist. There were many hours of interviews, and thousands of pages of documents to go through. At one point I came across a series of unusual documents Beverly had produced on her computer: several pages containing the names of the 9/11 hijackers, repeated page after page. In an email, I had asked her what was going through her mind when she created this calligraphic composition. She responded in her typically thoughtful manner:
i honestly think that i wrote out their names as a way to exert control over their essence, their beings, as if i had captured them in some way. it seemed very ritualistic when i was doing it, very primitive. i could make them large and confrontational, and then shrink them to near insignificance. i could fill a page with them and then delete them. i could make them repeat themselves over and over, monotonously and endlessly, like an eternal punishment. i played with them, and then i put them in a photo frame, and locked them under glass where i could watch them but they couldn't get out.Each one of us has had to find a way to cope with the aftermath of 9/11, and how to view the band of thugs who planned and carried out the attacks. The response of those who lost a loved one that day was shaped not only by the pain of grieving, but also by their own background and personalities. Some became motivated by hatred; others by love. Beverly saw this range of responses among the many family members with whom she worked and came in contact.
Beverly chose love. She focused on remembering the good times with Sean Rooney, the love they shared and the warm memories they made over many years. Beverly also devoted her energies to making a positive change in the world, helping others, promoting peace, finding solutions to the many failures that led to 9/11. By the force of her brave and generous heart, she in essence placed Osama bin Laden and his minions under glass, isolating them from her new life of service and remembrance, and condemning them to an eternity of insignificance and impotence.
We all have the power to deflect the emotional harm wished by others. Love and courage are invincible.