It was a chilly October day when mum Diane and dad Ken Fairben brought the newborn Keith home for the first time. Dad Ken remembers looking over at Diane holding Keith in her arms and being:
Terrified. Thrilled and petrified. So full of pride, I couldn't wait to show him off. This little munchkin is ours, and now we didn't have the safety net that we had in the hospital. This child is ours. It was overwhelming. I was frightened.
Keith Fairben was one of the first EMS on the scene on September 11, 2001 - EMS Unit "10 David" - and he is listed among the thousands of innocent Americans who lost their lives that day. Yes, his name is written forever within the lists of hallowed names, but when you ask Ken and Diane about Keith, it is as their precious son that they talk of him.
I first introduced my readers to Keith, Ken and Diane last year, when I wrote to honour and reflect on Keith's life. You can find that here. At that time, Diane shared a mother's love and memories. This year, Ken shared his father's heart, his Keith, with us all.
As Ken tells of the day that the baby Keith came home, his voice swells with pride, even as with all families adding a baby, there were challenges. Keith was not a good sleeper, was a colic-y baby, as Ken remembers well. Yes, Ken did get up in the night with him, but as a bus driver at the time, sleep was critical for him. Like all newborn babies who don't sleep, Keith was always most comfortable if you picked him up.
Ken tells the story of Keith's baptism which says all about those early days in the Fairben household.
The priest asked 'what do you name this child?'
Ken's reply: 'Depends if it is 2 in the morning or the middle of the day.'
This story also highlights the sense of humour that to this day is evident in the Fairben family.
According to Ken, once Keith settled down, he was a great baby, full of mischief, and always so much fun. He retells of him and Keith kicking balls around , playing baseball, or wrestling, and just fooling around, enjoying each other's company. One of the ongoing giggles among Ken, Keith and Diane was who Keith took after for his size, since Diane is short, and Keith towered over Ken. No, it wasn't the milkman, but they figure it must have been Keith's great uncle Eddy who was a giant of a man.
Ken and his brother were involved as volunteer firefighters in Floral Park, and Keith was only about eighteen months old when he was first taken to the firehouse, which is where the community spirit also shaped the man Keith would become.
The firehouse figures large in Keith's life:
This was Ken and Keith on one of Ken's birthdays. As Ken put it: "Eying the cake. Who gets it?"
There is much more about Keith, based on an interview with his dad, Ken. Go HERE, spend some time and get to know one of our 9/11 heroes.