By CECILE SAN AGUSTIN
CLIFTON - John listened to the music of Bruce Springsteen. His older brother, Tim, listened to John Mellencamp. For Sandra Grazioso, mother of these two men, it's memories like their favorite music that she wants to recall when celebrating their lives as the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 is marked.
The Clifton mother, a parishioner of St. John Kanty here, lost her sons in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Tim, 42 and John, 41, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald when the terrorists struck the twin towers.
"Both were wonderful boys. They were great sons, great brothers, great fathers. I miss them. I really do," said Grazioso, who works part-time at Shook Funeral Home here.
While 10 years have passed, Grazioso admits it still hurts a lot. This year hasn't been any easier in fact, somewhat harder, she said, "The media started earlier and you heard about the anniversary a month before."
Through her tragedy, she is grateful for the support system she has had. "People are wonderful. I am grateful for my family and friends who have kept me going. I've come to learn there's nothing I can do about it. My faith really has something to do about me coming to that understanding," said Grazioso.
It is that faith and a group of ladies, she has met - all mothers from north and central New Jersey who lost their children in the tragedy - that remind her about living life and keeping the memory of her sons alive.
This group of ladies she is a part of, which she nicknamed, "Ladies Who Lunch" meet once a month on Mondays at a local restaurant. "We talk about everything. We have social nights, attend craft shows, talk on the phone. We even celebrate our birthdays together," said Grazioso, who will be celebrating her 76th birthday at the ladies' next gathering.
To mark the 9/11 anniversary, Grazioso will be with her family, not to remember the tragedy but more so to remember the lives of her two sons. Grazioso's daughter, Carolee Azzarello, will have a gathering at her home in Green Brook. Grazioso also says the lives of Tim and John live on through her grandchildren. Tim had twin daughters, Lauren and Brianna, who are now 22. John had three children, Kathryn, 17; Kristen, 14; Michael, 10.
"I love them (my grandchildren) so much. Their mothers (my daughters in law) did a wonderful job raising them. The youngest grandchild, Michael was 10-months old at the time. He turns 11 on 11/11/11." Even though, he was a baby he still says, 'I miss my dad,'" said Grazioso.
On Sept. 11, 2011, in addition to being with her family, she will be at Ground Zero to see the unveiling of the 9/11 memorial. The day before on Sept. 10, she will be at a New Jersey memorial service in Jersey City for the unveiling of the Empty Sky Memorial.
She will also be talking to a group of high school seniors at Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, a few days before the anniversary, to speak about her sons. She has done this every year since 2002.
"They were two boys who loved their families. I remember Tim (who commuted from Florida every weekend, to work at Cantor) would be in touch with his daughters and study with them on the phone every night," she said. "John was once asked about how he was doing and he said, "I have a beautiful wife and three beautiful kids, what else is there?'"