Over the Christmas holiday I found a very meaningful object. I was snooping through my dad’s closet. Through coins and cards and clothes I looked, searching for his favorite possession. I gave up on his closet and started sifting through his drawers. I found old tubes of toothpaste, an assortment of bandages, toothpicks, and many other toiletries. Finally I found what I was looking for. Under numerous toiletry kits that were given by Northwest Airlines when he reached a certain amount of Frequent Flyer Miles, was my dad’s favorite watch.
Every week my dad used to commute from home in Memphis, Tennessee, to his work in New York City. Dad would spend the weekend home with my mom and me and then go back north every Sunday evening. Life was great until September 11, 2001. He used to work for the company Marsh & McLennan in the World Trade Center Tower No. 1 (the tower with the antenna at the very top). My dad was swept away from me so-o-o fast, like sand escaping from your fist. I found his favorite Nike watch. I could even smell the powder that he used on this watch. I will always cherish it. So when I feel lonely, or depressed, or sad, or blue, I will wear his watch and remember him forever and ever.
Elise LaskoThe routine was simple but inviolable.
Early Sunday evening, Gary E. Lasko would fly from Memphis to New York, where he worked at Marsh & McLennan. Then, on Friday afternoon, he would fly back home to Memphis. Except for Saturday mornings, when he and a few old chums — all husky boys, they called themselves the Apple Dumpling Gang — played golf, Mr. Lasko reserved the weekend for his wife, Kim, and 11-year-old daughter, Elise.
The commute became necessary when Marsh took over the Memphis insurance company where Mr. Lasko worked. Even when the weather did not cooperate, his schedule would not bend. 'This past Father’s Day he was trying so hard to get back to Memphis,' Mrs. Lasko said. 'There was a series of storms and it took him until Sunday morning to get back. We went to brunch, took in a show and then it was back to the airport. He was here for all of eight hours, but he could not imagine not spending Father’s Day with Elise.'
Mr. Lasko, 49, commuted from Memphis to New York for three years. He had moved to Memphis about a decade earlier after another long-distance job-related commute, this one between Philadelphia and Memphis. His patience and flexibility were legendary, but the traveling took its toll. 'It weighed heavily on him because he missed a lot of growing up and family stuff,' said Christopher Michaud, a co-worker and friend in Memphis. 'That’s why he kept his home weekends pretty sacred.'