Just before visiting the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93, the family of Patricia Cushing, 69, and her sister-in-law Jane Folger, 73, decided at last to hold a memorial service. They are still unsure when, if ever, they will receive their relatives’ remains.
“Some don’t want anything to turn up. Others don’t want to leave anything `out there,'” said Patricia Cushing’s son David. “We knew pretty much that if there were going to be any remains, it wasn’t going to be for a while.”
So on Sept. 18, a week after Flight 93 was hijacked and crashed into a Pennsylvania field, the Cushing and Folger families held a memorial mass at St. Henry’s Church in the women’s hometown of Bayonne, N.J. Hundreds attended, many from their large family, many others from Bayonne, a small town across the river from Staten Island, and still more who were simply well-wishing strangers.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by everybody reaching out,” David Cushing said. “Of course there are the agencies that normally reach out to you. But also there’s the people I work with, and a company I used to work for. People you don’t interact with day in and day out.”
His mother, he said, would have hated it. Likely, he added, his Aunt Jane would have enjoyed it a little.
Though the two women seemed to share a personality, Folger was the more outgoing of the pair; Patricia Cushing was most comfortable behind the scenes.
Both enjoyed history, and they often spent free hours together taking guided walking tours of Manhattan. Patricia Cushing was also a season ticket-holder to the Metropolitan Opera and recently had become an inveterate traveler since retiring from the phone company. She had five children.
Jane Folger had endured the emotional turmoil surrounding the death of two of her six children. Both women were religious, and their lives were centered on their large families. They were fast friends and, said David Cushing, complemented each other perfectly.
They were flying to San Francisco, a place where Patricia Cushing had never been. They had several walking trips planned, he said.
–John Keilman and James Janega (The Chicago Tribune)