DaJuan Hodges never gave his mother any trouble. 'He had every opportunity to stray, and he chose not to,' said his mother, Pamela Dixon, who raised two sons in Harlem.
As a child, Mr. Hodges loved to dance and ham it up for family pictures -- 'He was always ready to show the latest dance,' Ms. Dixon said -- and as a teenager he was a good student and did volunteer work.
When his daughter Jatair, now 8, was born, he embraced fatherhood with determination. 'It was like, O.K., I have a child now,' his mother said. 'He just knew he had to stay up on things because he had this responsibility.'
Mr. Hodges, who lived with his daughter and fiancée in the Bronx, did everything with his family, particularly going to movies, one of his passions. He worked in management services at Marsh & McLennan, on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center.
Ms. Dixon, who works for the same company in Midtown as an executive secretary, watched from her 42nd floor window as the first tower -- 2 World Trade Center -- collapsed on Sept. 11. 'I just went crazy,' she said. As she screamed, 'My son, my son,' and co-workers tried to calm her down, the other tower, where he was, also disappeared in a storm of smoke and dust.
Not having her son to bury has made the experience even more devastating. 'You have nothing except good memories,' Ms. Dixon said.