Today marks a solemn anniversary. It has been 5 years since four commercial airliners were hijacked and turned into weapons slamming into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania.
2,996 people lost their lives that day. People who were mothers, fathers, children...loved ones to someone. People who have left voids in others lives' that have not yet even begun to dull. While the day itself has morphed into a beacon about a turning point in North American history, we often forget the true story. That of the people who were directly involved. Not the numbers, not the statistics, not the companies, but the true hearts and souls that were silenced that day.
Today I honour the life of Manette Beckles. For this, I chose not to attempt contact with her family. I felt, out of honour and respect. they did not need me intruding on what must be a very delicate and painful time. My heart goes out to all who knew her, including her daughter Brandice, sister Thelma, brother George, cousin Estelle, close friends Denise and Dannon and many many other friends. I hope, if they come across this post, they understand why and that my words do some justice to a truly phenomenal woman.
Manette was born the same day as my brother back in 1958. May 19. As I began my research on Manette, I was struck by the coincidence of that. My brother, who grew up to become a police officer and later visited the Ground Zero site in 2002 as a representative of his local police detachment to lay respects for those lost.
She was a wonderful, kind soul. The single mother of a 15-year old daughter, she worked at Fiduciary Trust, WTC Tower 2, as an account processor. She'd been there since 1998 and had become an icon of the office. Manette was the one who would look at you with those bright, shining eyes and say, "Hey, what's for lunch?" at 10:00 a.m. or "Give a sister a break!" when she wanted her way.
Her coworkers wrote in her memoriam:
Manette was the type of person who would go out of her way cooking and ordering food for everyone. She loved to see people eating and having fun. Yet she would be the first to say that she was no angel-always trying to give the appearance of being tough, when in reality, she was truly an angel in the rough. Manette was a good mother, a hard worker and someone you could depend on. She was always there for her family and friends.Fiduciary Trust was located on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center. They lost 96 members of their company that day. A company that prided itself on being like 'one big family'.
Manette was born and grew up in Queens, NY. From the time she was a little girl, she brought happiness to all who knew her. Childhood friends remembered her as a warm friendly child, who hadn't changed a bit - well, except maybe the lack of pigtails that were her signature at aged 12, often seen riding her bike up to Cunningham's on 99th Avenue for candy.
She grew into a vivacious, young woman with boundless energy. Quick to smile, always there for her friends, and willing to go the extra mile for anyone who needed it. Whether it was trips to Cancun, or helping with Kwanzaa preparations, or just being a shoulder when someone needed it, Manette was there.
At 43, she left this world far before her time. A true angel, brough to this earth to teach us all about human spirit and all that is good in this world.
I leave you with her daughter's words:
My mother, Manette Marie Beckles, was a very warm, high-spirited human being.God Speed, Manette. I am thankful for this opportunity to have gotten to know you - even if it was after you'd left this earth. You have made me look at things in a different light, and brought a smile to my face as I learned of the happiness you brought to others. To Brandice, as you begin your twenties this year, my deepest condolences on the loss of your Mom. While nothing I can say can be of comfort, I can only say please know you don't walk alone.
She loved to make people laugh and smile. She always smiled herself. I would do
anything to bring her back because I love her. I will miss my mother a lot, and
I just wish she could be here with me. It was not her time to go. She was a
loving mother and tried to do her best to provide for me. It is just a shame
that she is gone. But my mother will remain through me, and the hearts she has
touched. And that will be a very good thing.
To my readers, I hope you can take this as a little suggestion. In Manette's memory, bring in something to your work for others to share next week. Be it cupcakes, cookies or just a smile. Stop at that person's desk you don't usually have time for and have a quick chat. Bring a smile to someone else's face. Trust me, it will be a very rewarding experience and Manette will be glad you did.