Friday, November 1, 2013

Flowers and Stone

A stone I leave to mark my presence 
Flowers I leave for love 
You don't belong in this hallowed ground
It was death before your time 
Sometimes I wish this eternal sleep 
Where you rest was mine

I have lived long enough 
In the time gone by 
I promise myself each time I visit I won't cry
But in the end; I'm fooling myself 
As I leave flowers where you lie

~ Martin Connors
October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tender Time

Tender Time
By Nicole Fortuna Oct. 2, 2013

A father’s mission: Martin Connors stands under a tree dedicated to his son, who was killed after being hit by a car in front of Archbishop Ryan High School. His father is now working to revise the current laws to allow a parent whose son or daughter has died to take off up to 12 workweeks from his or her place of employment for bereavement. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Timothy Connors
Never forgotten: A tree outside of Archbishop Ryan High School has been dedicated to the memory of Timmy Connors. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Philadelphia Police Detective Martin Connors, 48, never thought he would believe the words of grief counselor Mickey Hirsch: Connors would eventually help other grieving parents whose children had died. 
It has been more than two years since Connors’ son Timmy died after being hit by a car after the school day had ended at Archbishop Ryan High School. Timmy was 15 years old. 
Connors describes his son as gentle and heartfelt; he recounts Timmy’s aspirations to be a film director and writer, learn about Greek and Irish mythology and defend the honor of others.
“He was a good kid and still is a good kid,” Connors said. 
Timmy admired and developed an active curiosity for heroes, namely Spiderman, but especially the police officers and firefighters who risked their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Connors recalls his son consoling him on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Don’t cry, daddy,” Timmy said. “All those police and firemen that died when the buildings fell on them will be replaced by their sons.”
Timmy was just 6 years old.
“He had an old soul,” Connors said.
“[On the day of the accident,] I received a call while coming home from the police academy and was told my son had been in a car accident,” Connors said. “I was expecting stitches and Timmy apologizing for having a broken arm or leg.”
Shortly after arriving at Aria Torresdale Hospital, Connors was taken into the family room where he was informed Timmy had died. It was at this point that his grieving began a price, Connors said, that no parent wants to pay. 
But in time, Connors began to act on the words that Hirsch, who is battling cancer and still running his own contracting business, had told him; Hirsch’s son Kevin died at the age of 26 because of H1N1 (swine flu).  
In his healing process, Connors continually blogs about his emotional journey and memories of Timmy on his site, “Forever Fifteen- Timothy’s Strength.” Not only are his entries available to other grieving parents, but it was also through the Internet that Connors was able to reach out to dads who, like him, had also used writing as a powerful tool for healing as well as a means to be proactive. According to Connors, he contacted Kelly Farley, resident of the Chicago suburbs, on Facebook. Author of Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, Farley himself is a grieving dad whose children died in 2004 and 2006. He self-published his book in 2012; the work includes interviews of dads who discuss the psychological and emotional pangs of grieving because their children have died from various misfortunes and tragedies. 
“Most guys don’t tell each other how they’re feeling,” Farley said. 
This inhibition in communication as well as paucity in literature on guiding fathers whose children have died served as impetuses for Farley’s continuing efforts in writing on this topic — aiding a community of grievers who needed the resources to cope.
For Connors, the Fraternal Order of Police, Archbishop Ryan High School and surrounding schools in Port Richmond, where he and his family live, were supportive of his and his family’s needs. Specifically, Connors said he was “fortunate,” as he was able to take as much time off from work as he needed for bereavement, which included being able to utilize accrued vacation time.
Other parents, Connors said, are not so lucky. And so forth, Connors decided to reach out to help individuals whose children had died. But, he was not alone in his decision. 
The power of the print extended beyond Farley and Connors’ connection. Prior to Farley and Connors speaking, Barry Kluger, proprietor of Kluger Media Group and CEO of global grieving organization the MISS Foundation, researched material on grieving dads and found Farley’s website,, in 2010. Kluger, a prolific columnist and Arizona resident originally from Long Island, already had been writing about his daughter, Erica, who had died in a car accident in 2001. Both Farley and Kluger had received correspondences from multiple grieving parents explaining the hardships of the inability to take time off from work to grieve and consequently losing their jobs for having to do so. Currently, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 outlines that if a person has a child/gives birth to a child, a 12-workweek absence from a place of employment is permitted, according to the United States Department of Labor website. However, according to Kluger, individuals whose son or daughter has died receive a customary three to five days off for bereavement. Kluger said this current practice is, simply, a bad business decision. 
“The best assets of a company get on the elevator at 5:00,” Kluger said.
Kluger and Farley had a meeting of the minds. They decided to create an online petition to Congress in 2011 entitled the “Farley-Kluger Initiative,” which proposes to revise the current FMLA to allow a parent whose son or daughter has died to take off up to 12 workweeks from his or her place of employment for bereavement.
In the summer of 2011, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana issued the Parental Bereavement Act of 2011, according to the senator’s website. In December 2012, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel of New York introduced a bill of the same nature.
Moreover, Connors said that the significance of advocating for a grieving parent’s right to a respectable amount of time away from work eliminates unnecessary strain on his or her grief as well as enables the parent to still be a viable, contributing member of society. Honored, Connors is assisting in the initiative with Farley and Kluger, particularly through his writing. For example, Connors has additionally written editorials for the Northeast Times as well as to publicize and solicit support. 
For Connors, this is in no way a self-serving effort.
“I can never leave another grieving parent behind,” Connors said. 
Hirsch was right.
“I’m glad he [Connors] found something he can sink his teeth into,” Hirsch said.
The work of Kluger, Farley and Connors is paying off. Moreover, their efforts and experiences have paved the way for the advocacy of Tester, Israel, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and other critical political support. A victory took place Feb. 5 of this year, the 20th anniversary of the FMLA; the Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act was introduced to the House of Representatives—now with more than 30 co-sponsors, including U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.), according to Co-sponsorship included only Democratic representation, according to the site.
But, the work is not done. Besides advocating for the parent who is currently out of work after losing a job due to bereavement, Connors planned to join Kluger and other grieving parents on Oct. 8 in Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress to push the current bill into the hearing process, and hopefully, according to Kluger, a floor vote. The trip, though, has been postponed to a later date because of the government shutdown.
Connors encourages individuals to contact their local political representatives for support of this initiative. Currently, more than 64,000 individuals have signed the petition to endorse this cause.
“[I’m] paying it forward to help another parent who may not be as fortunate as I was,” Connors said.
And in his fortune, there are a “ton of memories” with Timmy. 
“Timmy was my hero,” Connors said. ••
Individuals can access Connors’ blog at and sign the petition for the initiative by going to 

Friday, September 6, 2013

This Path

These shoes I would gladly give up
Let this path go unexplored 
Let other pilgrims joined in grief, pass me by
Let me walk back to the earthly light where you still took in life's breath
But I can not, it is not allowed by Chronos or Death

Friday, July 19, 2013

Oak Tree Grows in Archbishop Ryan Student’s Memory

  Remembering Timothy: Martin and Georgette Connors placed a wreath near a tree on the Archbishop Ryan lawn to mark the second anniversary of the death of their 15-year-old son, Timothy. Alaina, 7, and Charlotte, 4, were his loving sisters. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTO

Oak tree grows in Archbishop Ryan student’s memory 

By Tom Waring

Northeast Times July 2, 2013

Timothy Connors’ family and friends recently marked the two-year anniversary of his death by placing a special wreath in front of a growing tree planted in his memory a year ago.

The wreath and tree are on the grounds of Archbishop Ryan High School.

Timmy, as he was known to family and friends, was a 15-year-old freshman at Ryan when he was hit by a car and died on the afternoon of May 17, 2011. 

He was leaving school for the day when he was hit on busy Academy Road as he ran to catch a bus.

An oak tree was planted on the lawn to mark the first anniversary of his passing. The wreath featured the likeness of Spiderman, as the teenager was a big fan of the superhero.

Timmy attended Nativity of Our Lord Elementary School from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, then spent two years at Our Lady of Port Richmond after a neighborhood consolidation of Catholic schools.

Martin and Georgette Connors are grateful for the support of the Ryan community.

Next year, they plan to install a plaque to mark the three-year anniversary of their son’s death. Timmy would have been a member of Ryan’s Class of 2014.

The Connors family, which also includes 7-year-old Alaina and 4-year-old Charlotte, would like to see traffic slow down on Academy Road. 

They suggest a traffic light south of Comly Road, a left turn signal into Ryan’s entrance and cameras that would take pictures of the license plates of cars going through red lights. 

Motorists going through red lights would receive a $100 ticket in the mail.

Martin Connors, a police detective, writes a blog, “Forever Fifteen,” in memory of his son and hopes to bolster a scholarship fund named in his memory. 

He also speaks with moms and dads grieving the death of a child and supports an effort to extend the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act to cover parents who’ve lost a child.

Contributions can be made to the Timothy Connors Memorial Scholarship, 11201 Academy Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154. ••

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Farley-Kluger Initiative

Father’s Day is quickly approaching and I must say, I am not looking forward to it.  It’s because I am a grieving dad.  Just writing those horrific words causes me to pause and think about how difficult this journey has been and will continue to be for some time.  I lost my son, Timothy in 2011 and have spent the past two years trying to survive this loss.  As much as a try, I cannot make sense of my son's death.


You see, most people think that bereaved parents should pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get things back to “normal.”  When I say “most people,” I mean people that have not buried a child.  For those of us unfortunate enough to have to live this reality knows it isn’t quite that simple.  I and the thousands of other grieving parents will never get back to “normal,” although we try.  Trying to get back to “normal” is a noble cause that never seems to happen after the death of a child.  How can it?  The death of a child goes beyond most people’s comprehension, except for the bereaved parents that have to walk this path.  We don’t have the luxury of removing that thought from their head, we live it.  Every day, we live it.


As part of my voice to help other bereaved parents that will follow in my footsteps, I have joined fellow grieving dads, Kelly Farley and Barry Kluger to assist them with bringing awareness to the Farley-Kluger Initiative (  Over 61,000 petitions have already been sent to Washington DC, many of these petitions have signed by residents of Pennsylvania.


Currently, there are two federal bills (The Parental Bereavement Act of 2013) sitting in the House of Representatives (HR515) and the Senate (S226) that propose expanding the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 to include the death of a child as a covered condition.  Right now, you receive up to 12 weeks unpaid leave if you have a child, adopt a child, care for a sick family member, you are ill or you are caring for an injured service member. If your child dies, most companies grant 3-5 days bereavement leave.


Sadly, there is no political support from Pennsylvania Representatives or Senators in Washington on this issue.  As Pennsylvanians I know we can do better.  I know compassion isn’t a thing of the past.  This issue shouldn’t be caught up in Washington politics.  It’s a common sense change since no parent is sheltered from the death of a child and those effected are Democrats, Republicans, rich, poor, as well as all cultural and religious backgrounds.


I think we can all agree that no one wants more government in their lives, but we want the businesses that rely on those who have lost a child, to recognize that the best assets of a company walk out the door at the end of the workday. Theyare what makes the economy move along.  They have given their employers loyalty, dedication and productivity but in the eyes of some companies, the death of a child makes them ‘expendable’ if they are unable to return to work the day after burying their child.


I cannot begin to imagine why anyone would not want to extend a compassionate hand to those who have lost a child.  Have we really become a country that is focusedmore on the bottom line than helping our neighbors through difficult times?


Martin Connors

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Jacket

I have Tim’s school bag. The strap is torn from the impact and heavy from his school books.  I don’t know exactly what happened to his jacket that he was wearing.  It was my jacket which was my platoon jacket from when I was in the Police Academy – my name and class number and platoon designation of “A”.  Over the years it became a ratty thing that Tim took to wearing.  I offered to buy a replica of it but he refused.  He continued to wear it; he told me he wore it because he was proud of me and it made him feel safe. When I see the pictures of him wearing it, I think how many times I had sewn a hole or two over the years.

I think his mother said her sister took it when it was released from the investigation.  I know it was blood soaked and would be something too painful to keep.  I start crying and then get pissed at myself thinking I should have just bought him a new copy of the jacket…all it had was my last name and my class and platoon number. 

Another grieving father had pointed out that I had bought a copy of the jacket; it would not have been the same because it was not mine.  He continued by pointing out Tim wanted me near him and that I had, in a way, wrapped my arms around my son when he left this world.  I was encouraged to look at it as a gift I bestowed on my son.  I had thought of it.  I thought of how in literature, religion, and mythology clothing was used as a gift to offer some form of protection, conversion, or transition.

J.R.R. Tolkien used clothing as a gift in The Fellowship of the Ring.  On his quest to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, Frodo is given, by Bilbo, dwarven  coat of mail of Mithril – metal lighter and stronger than steel.  The mail saved Frodo from a spear and an arrow, while the Fellowship battled Orcs, in the Dwarven mountain kingdom of Moria.  Later Galadriel, the Lady of the Woods, gave Frodo an Elven cloak that camouflaged him as a boulder as he neared the completion of his dangerous quest.

J.K. Rowling uses a cloak of invisibility through her Harry Potter novels.  Harry Potter received a cloak of invisibility which was instrumental in the battle against Lord Voldemort.  Harry’s father James, just before his death at the hands of Voldemort, had lent the cloak to Dumbledore.  During Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, Dumbledore gave it, as a Christmas present, to the young wizard in training.

Saint Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier, in about the year 334, was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens in Gaul (now Amiens, France), and met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his military cloak in half to share with the man. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me." When he woke his cloak restored to wholeness.

So looking back, with the input from another grieving father, looking from the outside-in, I can agree that perhaps I was in a sense doing all I could to protect or comfort my son at the time of his death.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Sink Full of Dishes and Planning a Funeral

When I got home that evening, Tuesday, May 17, 2011, about 7:30 PM, I found people assembled at my home.  There were representatives from the Fraternal Order of Police, folks I had worked with and folks that I knew by reputation, and few co-workers.  The FOP set up a table of food, treats, and beverages in the living room.  Tasha, Jun’s wife, went to-and-fro picking after the kids and playing with my daughters.  Condolences were offered with hugs, hand-shakes, man-hugs where the arms are crooked in with the handshake to keep the formality of masculinity.   I stepped into the kitchen and saw my co-worker, Michelle at the kitchen sink.  I watched for a moment as she scrubbed a dish, rinsed, and placed on the dish rack.

 “What are you doing?”  I asked, partly embarrassed my dishes were being washed by a friend – and from thinking how it was Timmy’s one and only chore during the week.  I was about to turn around and call upstairs for him to come down and do the dishes.  I stopped.  Timmy’s not coming home.

“I’m washing the dishes.”  Michelle said as she rinsed her hands and dried them.  Michelle hugged me and said a prayer for Jesus to ease my pain.
“My Timmy is dead, Michelle.”  I cried.  “My son is dead.” 

Michelle comforted me.  I had known her since I got out of the academy.  She was and is a constant friend as well a knowledgeable cop and detective.  There were times we didn’t agree with each other.  There were times I said something to piss her off.  There were times other people caused a rift.  But as with anyone that is a true friend, Michelle was there in my home to help.

“I have a dishwasher you know.”  I said pointing at the dishwasher that stood un-used under the counter.

“I know,” Michelle said wiping either tears or dishwater from her face.  “I don’t mind, and I like knowing the dishes are clean because they were done by hand.”

John McGrody pulled me aside.  I had also known John since I was a rookie.  John was now the Vice-President of the FOP #5; despite his status he was still a cop and advocated strongly for his brothers and sisters in blue.  “I want you to introduce you to someone.  Meet Ronnie Sypherd, or as we call her the Ronnie-ator.”

Ronnie is an older lady who is well spoken, has the face of a Mother Superior, and the grace to match.  “I’m Ronnie.  I am here to help you plan Timmy’s funeral and get you through this week.  This is going to be the hardest week in your life.  I hate to say it, but you will hate me by the end of the week.”

Ronnie is the coordinator with the FOP to help arrange Police Officers funerals.  However, it’s not just coordinating (and this is where Ronnie’s demeanor can match that of a Gunnery Sergeant), but to run interference with well-wishers wearing the skin of a vulture and keep them away from the family.  Ronnie was very fierce, but graceful, from that moment protecting me and my family.  People wanted to help in many ways, and that was appreciated – but Ronnie made sure that the help was genuine and not a sham.  For that I could never once think of hating Ronnie.  If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gotten through that week.  She pushed me to focus on the task at hand, and that was to lay my son to rest and shooed away the vultures – that meant overzealous reporters, memorial headstone companies that called the FOP or my home offering a monument at a “special discounted rate.”

The owners of Katie O’Donnell’s Irish Pub, Sandy and Dave Greenhalgh along with their friend Phil Consolvo offered to help with a benefit.  Ronnie, along with the Greenhalghs and Phil as well as a few other people, formed a committee to bring the benefit to fruition.  Ronnie had experience with benefits – cops have them all the time to help one another, a charity, or a child in need for an operation, special medical equipment, or to help their parents bring expenses under control.  Although at first it was proposed to have the benefit shortly after school let out, but it was agreed it would be too soon after Timmy’s death.  The only thing I wanted was that I wanted it oriented towards the kids and to be focused on Timmy.  Ronnie negotiated what was proposed between me and Gi.  Even though I appreciated the thought and what was to come a few months later, I wanted it to be like a county fair – clowns, balloons, stuff that kids will eat like hamburgers and cotton candy.  That was something I was told not to worry myself about and to get through the week.

Every morning, Ronnie came to the house – once or twice ordered me to the shower, to get dressed, because we had a meeting with the funeral home, ran interference or negotiated with the cemetery, made suggestions, and kept me focused on the task at hand – from deciding on readings from scripture, who will be a pall bearer (despite my stubbornness, Ronnie was not allowing me to carry my son because it would be have been too much on my psyche; looking back I am glad she won that argument), who would read the Eulogy, and what to wear - the three squads at Southwest, along with Lieutenant Walker  and Captain Naish, bought me a new suit for the viewing and funeral.

Ronnie didn’t push me, but nudged strongly and protected me.  She was right it was the hardest week of my life; she was wrong about hating her.  I am so grateful to her getting me through the week.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Just Breathe...

Just Breathe
Words & Music
Pearl Jam
Great Cover by Willie Nelson and his son Lukas 

Yes, I understand that every life must end, uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, uh-huh
Oh I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks just have one, yeah, others, they've got none

Stay with me...
Let's just breathe...

Practiced all my sins, never gonna let me win, uh-huh
Under everything, just another human being, uh-huh
I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world to make me bleed

Stay with me
You're all I see...

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me

As I come clean...
I wonder everyday, as I look upon your face, uh-huh
Everything you gave
And nothing you would save, oh no

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave...

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
And I come clean, ah...

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me til I die
Meet you on the other side...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013: Building a New Basket

Phase 1
Phase 2

Phase 3: Almost ready...Gi found a monkey hand puppet. I stuffed it and added it to the basket. Nice touch!
the Monkey says:
It will put the eggs in the basket..LOL  I think R2D2 is waiting for C3P0 to hatch!?


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gone Too Soon (Video Tribute)

Gone too Soon

Words and Music
Christopher A. Daughtry & Michael Busbee
Preformed and Recorded by Daughtry

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Who'd You Be Today?

I see your smile,
I see your face,
I hear you laughing in the rain.
I still can't believe you'regone.

                                                                                                          ~WilliamLuther & Aimee Mayo 
Who’d You Be Today?
Recorded by Kenny Chesney

“I want to go to Art School or Film School.”  Tim said when he was 13.
New Year's 2011
“I want to be like Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.”  Tim said. 
I thought for a second.  “Is that what you want for high school?  We can look into that…”
“No, daddy, for college – I want to study film making.”

Tim and I were driving to the movies to see The Dark Knight, the second of the Christian Bale Batman movies.  All his life he was fascinated with special effects – from Jaws to the reboot of Star Trek, Iron Man, and The Transformers movies.  He had started watching Robot Chicken on the Cartoon Network and loved how Seth Green’s production would use action figures from my childhood and some from the 80’s to make stop-motion shorts poking fun at some of the old movies, current events, celebrities, and television shows.  There were weekend nights when I came home from working the 4-to-12 shift and find him giggling and cackling at the show.

“I have no problem with that,” I said.  “But you will take some business courses.”
Tim looked at me, changing the radio station on the pre-set buttons.  “Why?”

I glanced at him for a moment, caught a few notes of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb and tapped his hand away from the stereo.  “Stop, its Pink Floyd.”

“Why do you want me to take business courses?  Didn’t you hate that you had to take business instead of writing courses?”  I could feel his eyes on me.  Ah, the defiance years…where the boy starts to question what he’s told to do and find out consequences.

“Because I am not going to have a starving artist living in my basement like Maynard Krebs, no sir.”

“Who?  Who is he?”

I don’t even know why I thought of Maynard Krebs.  All I remembered of him was that he was played by Bob Denver who later played Gilligan.  Krebs was a friend of Dobie Gillis, a show from the late 1950’s to early 1960’s – before my time, but I caught repeats on the UHF channels growing up.

“Maynard Krebs was a beatnik who avoided work at almost all costs, almost like Shaggy from Scooby Doo is a close second.  But that’s not the point.”

Tim threw his arms up in the air.  “So what’s the point?”

I thought for a second.  I was losing my cool and so was Tim.  “It’s because I want you to be able to have a career…not a pipe dream.”

Tim huffed and mumbled under his breath.  “You don’t want me to be who I want to be.”

“What?”  I leaned over, keeping my eye on the road.


“What did you say?”  I turned down the radio.  “What did you say?” I repeated.

Tim looked at me.  He had a painful look on his face.  “You don’t want me to be who I want to be; I want to go to film school.”

“Whoa,” I said.  “Back up. Number one that is not what I said! I want you to have something to fall back on.  If I was allowed to study what I wanted to study, and have business as a fall back option I would be writing for some company; but pursuing writing a novel to outshine Hemingway.  If I was allowed to…”

“Okay I get it.”

“No Tim you don’t.  I will never deny you what you want to study.  You get an interest in something, I am the one that goes out and gets everything under the sun about it.  Mummies…I got you books and movies about them.  Urban legends… I got you everything on that.  You wanted an art kit?  Your mother told your grandmothers to get you one for Christmas…and guess what you got another one from me.”

“Okay.  I’m sorry. Geez.” 

“You want to study film.  Fine, but you will have something to get  you a job in marketing or advertising.  You have a long way to go before we get to that point…you have to get past 8th Grade and high school.”

“So you’re okay with it?”

“Tim you can be whoever you want…you’re just not going to be a bum.”  I smiled.  “Then I would have to kill you.”

On the day Tim was killed I was asked who he wanted to be.  The first thing I thought of was his addition to Film Maker, was to be an author – he discovered Michael Crichton.  Crichton had done it all – author, investigator, doctor, movie maker, and television developer – and a friend of Stephen Spielberg.

 It ain't fair; you died too young,
Like the story that had just begun,
But death tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you,
All the hell that I've been through,
Just knowin' no-one could take your place.
An' sometimes I wonder,
Who you'd be today?