GUILFORD – “She was a force of nature, yup,” says Duane Orloske, referring to his wife, Margaret, killed on September 11th, 2001.
Nature is where he find peace.
“It doesn’t go away, the trauma of that day,” he says, noting it’s with him all the time. “It’s always lurking in the background.”
“This time of year, symptoms of it crop up. Being short with people,” he says, talking about the PTSD he suffered, after Margaret died while working on the 96th floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower One.
“She got up, got dressed and took off,” says Duane, of that morning.
The 50 year old commuted two and a half hours each way everyday – from Windsor to her job at Marsh McLennan in New York….a testament to her love of home and work.
“She was organized, caring,” says Duane.
The former librarian loved history. The couple enjoyed a unique hobby in their re-production colonial on Settlement Hill in Windsor.
“Whenever we’d entertain people in the house, we’d always cook on the hearth,” remembers Duane. “She loved gardening, we had a wonderful garden there.”
After her death, the neighborhood dedicated a memorial garden to Margaret. A similar spot exists in Deerfield, Massachusetts, along with a hearth cooking program in her name.
“Margaret would have wanted me to have the best life and live life as fully as possible and that means doing new things and meeting new people,” says Duane.
Still processing his grief, he got involved in the Voices Center for Resilience, helping to build a database that honors victims. The work was cathartic.
“It was fun to do something connected to 9-11 but also supporting the families,” Duane explains.
In 2011, he re-married a wonderful woman named Kate. They now live in a serene spot near the shoreline.
“We see eagles, geese, swans,” he says.
On the anniversary, Duane will spend time with his grandson and son, quietly remembering Margaret, called a gardener of not only plants and flowers…but of people.
“She loved to get people together and connect with them. her friends acknowledged her for helping them grow,” says Duane with a smile.
Again, a reference to the natural world…home to Margaret’s everlasting spirit.