The voice. I recognized it instantly. “My name is Sandy Austin Asbury, I’m an FBI Agent here in Pierre, South Dakota, and I was a construction guide at the World Trade Center in the summers, 1968, 69 and 70.
I could hear the struggle in her speech. How hard it was for her to sound out her Ss. At the same time she sounded so good. See, Sandy’s cancer was initially found in her mouth, on the side of her tongue. It was melanoma. I’m sure you’ve heard of melanoma. Part of her tongue had to be removed. A big portion on the side. She had to have lots of speech therapy afterwards in order to get her speech back to any semblance of normal. She worked hard and she did great.
Yesterday was the 17 year anniversary of 9/11. The terrorist attack on US soil. The taking down of the Twin Towers in New York City. A day that will never be forgotten.
After the attack, I remember Sandy telling me that she was being interviewed for a special. A special involving the building of the World Trade Center. There were several young girls who worked at the site as it was being built. They were construction guides. They were also called Building Stewardesses. There were a lot of upset people because of the construction project. These girls were hired to be guides to the public. It was a great public relations move so as to get people on board with the project. They had uniforms and explained the project to the interested public. They had to know what was what. They had to be ready for any construction-related questions. They had to be trained well.
“This taking a guide job was a big step for me because I had been painfully shy when I was very very young. I was viewed as somewhat of a hippie-looking person — bell bottoms, long hair and blowing bubbles wherever I went and wearing sandals. But in my little uniform when I was a girl guide I looked just little miss all American.”
This week has been strange. I needed to write this. Sandy has been on my mind all week. Since Monday, the 10th, I have heard the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling song at least eight times. That was the song that was played at her funeral. There have been so many connections to her this week. It has been almost laughable. I know she is letting me know she is around.
I was tagged on Facebook by Kathy, Sandy’s step-daughter. Kathy was there with Nancy, Bill and me around Sandy’s bed when she took her last breath. She’s special to me. She always will be. Kathy tagged me with the link to the interview. As I started listening, I couldn’t help but smile, after the tears, of course. I loved Sandy’s voice. It is so soothing and she always sounded so happy and full of life.
I think the most important thing Sandy said during that interview is still so extremely relevant. She was definitely a trail blazer and was a very strong woman. She stood up for herself and for other women. She was such an amazing person and I still miss her so much.
“The possibilities of all the trade and business and commercial things that went on as a young woman just getting ready to go to college, I started to realize all the things that you could do in life and uh, I was the first female agent that was on a squad in the FBI Newark office in 1981. “
She was a strong woman and I am so grateful I got to hear her roar.