My nephew, Brandon Giordano, died in a tragic accident on the night of March 9, 2012. Since that moment, despite my grief, I have had many proud and grateful moments. It is clear that Brandon was not only a very special part of our lives, but also a very special part of the Oxford community. He touched more lives in more ways than anyone could have imagined. During his 15 years with us, he lived a full and happy life, lifting up all those around him. Brandon’s life and death have taught me very valuable lessons, one of which is to never allow an opportunity to pass me by, so I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you.
The kindness, generosity and heart-felt concern of the Oxford community have left me and my family humbled with gratitude. From the initial moments of the accident, to the ongoing moments of healing and remembrance, we have had community support every step of the way - support, which I know, will never cease to exist. The magnitude of love and caring in this community is abounding, and to say I am grateful for it is an understatement. My hope is that I can convey just a fraction of what we feel over the outpouring we have experienced.
I would first like to thank the emergency responders working the night of March 9, 2012. I will not leave unmentioned that our firefighters and ambulance crews are volunteers. I appreciate that being on that scene was not a job that you were being paid for: it was a sacrifice you made on behalf of our family and our community. Your hard work, training and commitment assures our family that everything that could have been done for Brandon that night was done, and it gives us peace. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. It does not end there either.
Hours later, another 911 call was made by my sister after a fire destroyed her bedroom. Emergency responders went from one scene to the next and continued their service and sacrifice. Again, thank you.
I would also like to thank the Oxford and State police who were not only first responders to both incidents on March 9, but have been continued responders and supporters throughout this tragedy. I have seen officers at every junction, at the candlelight vigil, at my sister’s home, at the wake, at the church, at the cemetery. Patrol cars accompanied us during the processionals and directed traffic. These officers have kept my family and our community safe and secure during this difficult time, and for that, I thank them.
To the local government, First Selectmen Temple and Selectman Haney, I appreciate the numerous occasions this past week that you have called my sister with updates, and visited her in her home. Your dedication to the residents of this town on a personal level is inspiring. At a time when government and politicians in this country seem out of touch and obscure, you both have assured me that here in Oxford, our government officials care about the people that they represent. For that, I thank you.
The Oxford school system has been a true support. I would like to thank the administration, faculty, staff, students, organizations and clubs for all that they have done. Because of all of you, Brandon’s family and friends have had a place to go to gather and support each other. From the candlelight vigil, to the gathering at the flagpole, to the memorial at his locker, to the pasta dinner in his honor, the schools have been overwhelming supporters of all of our needs. Food made by students has been delivered to our homes and the funeral home. Faculty members have donated time and money to personally assist my sister and my niece. Scholarships and memorials have been established in Brandon’s honor. I am assured by your actions that he will not be forgotten, and that his memory will live on in that school, and for that, I am most grateful.
I would also like to take time to mention the community churches that opened their doors to a hurting community. Not one Oxford church, but two, offered their facilities to host the funeral. To the clergy and members of the Quaker Farms Episcopal Church, thank you. Your kindness and generosity did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Due to size and capacity, another church was used. Cornerstone Assembly of God and its parishioners graciously allowed our family, friends and community to gather in Brandon’s honor. With a day notice, in conjunction with Cornerstone Christian Center in Milford, the church arranged the funeral services seamlessly. That day was an important event in the life of so many. Being at Cornerstone together allowed us to laugh and cry, to hurt and heal. Thank you for welcoming us into your church home.
The Oxford football team has been a source of strength for my family and myself. The coaches and the players, although they are hurting too, have walked with us every step of the way. They have provided emotional, spiritual, financial, nutritional and physical support. The coaches and the players have called and visited individually, in small groups, and as an entire team. They truly are a family. Brandon was proud to be a Wolverine, and now I understand why. Just as he was dedicated to the team, the team is dedicated to him. The honor you have shown my nephew will never be forgotten.
I would also like to thank all of the unnamed citizens who have left cards and food at my sister’s doorstep. To all who attended the vigil and the pasta dinner and donated money to the BG69 scholarship, thank you. To all the citizens and local businesses that donated food to the pasta dinner, thank you. To the town hall employees who are raising money to help my sister repair her bedroom, thank you. To all who donated to assist with funeral expenses, thank you. To those who donated the site where Brandon is laid to rest, thank you. To those who have and will care for that site, thank you. To the local businesses who displayed flyers in their windows, thank you. To the local business that donated oil to heat my sister’s home, thank you. To those who donated and wish to remain anonymous, thank you. To any one that I unknowingly and apologetically may not have mentioned, thank you.
The love and camaraderie in this community is commendable. I have been fortunate enough to live in Oxford my whole life. There are currently five generations of my family living in Oxford. At a time like this, there is no other place I would rather be. I feel comforted in this town. I know that although tragedy has struck us, we will heal. I know that Brandon will live on here. He is not gone, but will live in and through this community forever. So, I may shed tears as I drive by all of the flags that wave at half-mast, but it is not from sorrow, it is from pride. I am a proud aunt and a proud Oxford resident. On the behalf of my family, and myself, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul.