For Frankie DeVito, his grandfather was a favorite playmate and companion. But Bill Steckman, who worked in the World Trade Center, didn't come home after Sept. 11, 2001. Frankie, now 10, talks with his mother about that day — and how his grandfather remains with him.
"He always used to be in the garage fixing up things with cousin Mikey," Frankie told his mother, Diana.
"And he always promised to take me to work once — but that's not going to happen."
Asked about that day, Frankie said that he recalls seeing his mother upset. Something had happened to his grandfather, he was told. And the family was going to their grandparents' house.
"I remember that Mikey told me that planes crashed, and he wasn't coming back," Frankie said.
In the weeks that followed, being with the rest of his family made him feel better, Frankie said — and so did pretending his grandfather was with him in his room.
He can still feel that presence, he said.
"Being in certain places, when I'm at a happy time, just somewhere in my mind, he won't get out of there. He's just stuck in my mind. And that makes me a little sadder, where I am."
He still dreams of his grandfather, Frankie said — dreams in which the whole family is together again. And he knows what he would say to his grandfather if he could speak to him.
"I love you," Frankie said, "and there's no other grandfather I'd rather see than you."
Produced for Morning Edition by Vanara Taing with Lizzie Jacobs. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.