“God Bless Our Timothys”
by Eddie Mayrose
The debate had raged throughout the summer. We’d grown used to the happy dilemma of choosing a name for a new baby, as it was, perhaps, the most exciting thing about expecting a child. None of us could wait for the November due date. However, this time it was a little different. This time, it wasn’t just my wife, Virginia, and me. We now had four other opinions being tossed around the dinner table as our children, ages nine to fourteen, were each certain of their own ability to select the perfect name.
By late August, we were no closer to a decision. It was then that Virginia, taking full advantage of her birthday privileges, put her foot down and announced to all of us that she had decided on a girl’s name – Caroline. She then decreed that I would be responsible for selecting a boy’s name, and that she would abide by my decision without question. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have a particular name in mind.
September 11, 2001 was a day that boasted, in the words of Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, “a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it.” It was the last one I ever saw without being reminded of tragedy. None of us will ever forget the terrible events of that Tuesday morning, so I will not recount them here. Our lives were changed that day, in ways that we could have never imagined. But, through all the misery, a wonderfully inspiring story about an angel here on Earth provided a name for a beautiful little boy.
I didn’t know FDNY Captain Timothy Stackpole. Never even met him, even though we shared a number of mutual friends. Four months earlier, I had read about his miraculous return to active duty after suffering terrible injuries in a fire that claimed the lives of two of his colleagues. I had also read about him on September 10th, as he had just been recognized as Irishman of the Year at The Great Irish Fair in Brooklyn that weekend. However, it was everything I read and heard after he was lost that filled my heart.
At the time, I worked on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. We had been locked in when the first tower came down and had spent a few hours dealing with the worst fear I had ever known. Thankfully, we were many, and the camaraderie and support got us through. We could only imagine what was going on just six blocks away and, sadly, even our darkest thoughts fell short of the reality.
In those next few days, as we learned the names of all of those we lost, Timothy Stackpole’s story became prominent. My dear friend and colleague, Joe Berg, informed me that he had gone to high school at St. Francis Prep in Queens a year behind Timmy and was devastated by the news. “This was the best guy that ever graduated from the Prep”, he told me. “He was everything that was good about the Prep.” Even though it had been more than two decades since they’d last seen each other, Joe made the ninety minute drive to attend the wake; standing on line for another two hours. “I didn’t know anyone there”, he said, “but I had to go.”
As Captain Stackpole was a legend in the Department, there was no shortage of stories about him in the days that followed. The one that touched me, though, was an interview with his wife, Tara, just two days after the attacks. The way she spoke of her husband and treasured the time they had together, actually made me smile through the tragedy.
“What a great marriage we had,” said Tara. “People had no idea what they were missing. What I had. When he got hurt in ’98, he should have died. It was a miracle that he didn’t. I believe it was part of God’s plan that he’d have three more years to touch people’s lives. He changed people’s lives by how he lived.” Even now, ten years after the fact, I am in awe of the love they shared.
Two weeks later, Tim was eulogized by his only daughter, Kaitlyn, at his funeral. “I can’t imagine my life without you in it. I’ll always know where to find you: in our hearts. My whole life, I’ve always known what a good person you are. I believe God gave us three more years. There is a little bit of you in all of us, especially in Mommy, the boys and me,” she said. “I love you. Thank you, Daddy.”
I saved both of the newspapers in which those stories appeared and brought them home to my family. I told them that, were we to be blessed with a little boy, his name would be Timothy. Not as much to memorialize Timmy Stackpole as to inspire my son to be a good friend, husband and father. To become a man of faith and service; one who guides others down the same path. To be a man that shares so much love with the people in his life that they are keenly aware of the good fortune that was theirs to know him, even in their deepest grief.
Timothy McGee Mayrose was born on November 6th, 2001. He’s a very smart, kind and polite young man. He loves sports, his dog, Smalls, and Harry Potter. Mostly, though, he treasures the time he spends with his very large family. We talk about how he was named all the time. I think Timmy Stackpole would like him a lot.
Shortly after he was born, I wrote a letter to the Stackpole family to tell them about my Tim. Even though I didn’t want to be intrusive, I did want them to know that their wonderful father and husband was a role model for my son. The contents of that letter are of too personal a nature for me to share. What I will share, though, is my last thought to them; one that resonates within me today as powerfully as it did during those terrible weeks and months. “God Bless our Timothys.”