2013-02-01 / Columnists

Slice Of Life

by Beth Hanning

“Why didn’t you ever move to Long Island?”

This question was asked of me by a woman I work with. This is the story I told her:

In June of 1988 when I was 15 years old my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given very little time to live.

My father took her to our home on Beach 117th Street to be comfortable. In the two months that followed up to her death I saw a generosity that has stayed with me until this day.

People from the neighborhood came to my house and delivered hot meals, did our laundry and some women even stayed during the night to sit with my mother so my father could get some much needed sleep.

Even after my mother passed away the generous people of the Rockaways helped our family with very generous financial donations.

My father received a phone call that my junior year’s tuition at St. Francis Prep was taken care of by a local resident.

I turned 16 the week after my mother passed away and our home was filled with gifts and flowers.

It made a very difficult birthday a memorable one.

I then told her about the two wonderful schools my children attended, St. Virgilius and St. Francis de Sales. When my older daughter Marianne started first grade I never doubted her safety or education, because the principal had been my husband’s teacher and many of the teachers at the school had either taught my husband and his family or they were local young woman who I knew from the neighborhood.

When St. Virgilius closed due to low enrollment I called St. Francis and had frequent conversations about the enrollment process with Mrs. Lograno, who I used to babysit for when I was a teenager.

Again I felt so comfortable. Then Sister Patricia hired two St. Virgilius teachers so our displaced children felt at home seeing familiar faces.

I thought of it again last night at the Graybeard’s Dinner Dance.

More than 500 people from the neighborhood, some still not living in their homes, coming together for a great night.

I kept thinking back to this story many times since Sandy when volunteers from Team Rubicon and other organizations told me that they have never seen a community like the Rockaways. I agree.

I also thought of this when reading the comments made by Governor Cuomo stating, “Maybe Mother Nature doesn’t want you here.”

His statements made it seem so easy to sell your property and move on to another community.

As many of us lifelong Rockaway residents believe Rockaway will be back better than before.

Now I have a longer story to tell people when they ask me, “Why didn’t you ever move to Long Island?”

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