After Losing a Brother on 9/11, We Still Seek Triumph to Win Over Tragedy

After Losing a Brother on 9/11, We Still Seek Triumph to Win Over Tragedy

Geoff’s Brother, George Edward Spencer, III, “Twig,” worked on the 84th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. An adventurous and energetic guy, Twig’s joyous spirit still lives on today. 

There was never a challenge Twig deemed too great. If someone suggested a mountain climb, Twig would be the first one dressed in his hiking gear. If a sailing regatta was proposed, Twig had his deck shoes and sailing clothing packed in a duffle, ready to meet his brother, Geoff.

Several of Twig’s co-workers escaped the burning south tower before it collapsed. At a reception following Twig’s memorial, a few of the men spoke in hushed tones about the hero they knew as Twig. “Twig went back into our office to make sure everybody got out.”

The Spencers will honor Twig next week in Cleveland at the 14th Annual Spencer Lecture, an event held at University School, where the two brothers attended. Honoring, Twig, The Spencer Lecture was established to promote improved international relations and understanding. 

The Lecture offers inspiration. Something good. #neverforget

Geoff has spoken dozens of times about the loss of his brother. His message is always the same: Tragedy is not going to be the end of my brother’s life story.” Always reframing the horrific event, Geoff sheds a positive light, an idea Twig would have endorsed. The many adventures the two brothers shared highlights the mission that Geoff has embraced for the past 15 years. 

“I have managed the pain of losing my brother, by remembering that he and I never missed an opportunity to connect on some kind of adventure,” Geoff says, smiling.

When Poppy and Geoff spent time with Twig’s widow, their 2 children, and now 5 grandchildren a few weeks ago, the hurt is stronger. “While I may have dealt with the loss of my brother, I ache that his family no longer has my brother in their lives. I see life without their husband, father, and grandfather from their perspective, and the pain is different. Fresh tears spring to my eyes, as I realize that the family unit is not the same.”

We create new family paradigms. We acknowledge the hurt, remind us that it’s okay to feel the hurt. And we smile at a happy memory and shift our attention on the living members right in front of us. 

One of the ways we discover triumph over tragedy is to smile as the five grandchildren scoot around the driveway in their colorful Ezyrollers®, a low-to-the-ground rider that produces squeals of laughter. Hearts are warmed as we witness their innocent faces as they pivot and turn, a piece of sidewalk chalk in their hand as they make instant art as they roll. 

It softens the pain as we watch the children leave their mark where they’ve adventured. And continue the legacy of the grandfather they never met.