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Where were you?
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This week on Facebook, my dear friend Jan Hallam wrote, “Ten years and I still weep...What were you doing that morning?”  What a powerful question. 

I remember, like it was yesterday.  Allen and I were sound asleep when the phone rang.  It was my girlfriend Ann.  She told me that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center.  I thanked her for the call, mumbled her info to Allen, and dozed back to sleep.  In my mind, it was too early for the call and it didn’t impact me much that the wing of a little twin engine Cessna had clipped a building in New York City. 

About 30 minutes later we crawled out of bed at our normal time and turned on the television.  What happened next is something that will forever be emblazoned in my brain.  We sat in silence—stunned.  Who could have imagined what was happening right before our eyes? This was no little wing clip.  It was jet planes, carrying moms, dads, and babies and it was plowing right through a towering landmark filled with more moms, dads and babies. We watched in living color.

On my knees, “Dear God. Bless those families.  Bless our country.  God, bless America.”

There are a few other historical moments that are emblazoned in my brain forever.  I can vividly remember sitting on the hardwood floors in our living room on November 25, 1963.  I was 5 years old and watching the funeral procession of John F. Kennedy on our black and white television.  It seemed like that procession lasted for hours.  The mood was solemn and our family sat in silence as newscasters announced that this was how little John Jr. was spending his third birthday.   

March 3, 1987.  Another day that I will never forget.  I was sitting in my downtown Modesto office when my phone rang.  “Are you Pennie?” a woman asked.  “Yes,” I replied.  “This is a nurse from the Emergency Department and I’m sorry to say that your Dad was brought here in cardiac arrest.”  Silence.  I waited for her to continue as I had little idea what this meant, but I figured it was not good.  More silence. 

And then I conjured up the courage to ask…”Well, is he alive?”  She replied.  “No, I’m sorry.  He is not.”


Approximately every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and approximately every minute, someone will die of one.   My funny daddy, Paul Skittone, is sadly one of those statistics.

Today I’ll be direct and ask you to pledge at least $100 to Legacy Circle of Emanuel.  Our goal is to raise $1 million for cardiovascular services in Turlock.  The truth is, we never know what tomorrow will bring, whether we are on a trip by air, watching TV in our homes, or sitting at the office.  But what we do know is that today we have the opportunity to make a difference—a difference that can mean life or death when heart attack symptoms strike.

To pledge, please phone me at 664-5679 or donate online at


Pennie Rorex is a member and volunteer for Legacy Circle of Emanuel.