A Mother's Refuge, A Son's Legacy

There will be another Mother’s Day this year for Jackie Giblin Bardem. She suffered an unspeakable loss 18 months ago when her 7-year-old son, Daniel, was one of 20 student-victims of a shooter in Newtown, Conn. With special thanks to her childhood parish in the Bronx, in New York City, Daniel’s memory will go on and on, for Mother’s Days down through the years. Her Bronx friends thought that much of her, one of nine little Giblin children who grew up there. And they never forgot.
You probably remember Danny. He was the red-haired kid with the gap-tooth smile who broke your heart when you realized what the family must be going through. There’s Mark, Jackie’s husband, and two other children: James, 13, and Natalie, 12. Jackie’s childhood parish, Our Lady of Refuge in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, is raising enough money to dedicate its new athletic facility this month in Danny’s honor: the Daniel Bardem Memorial Gym. Denis Hamill wrote about it in the Daily News a couple of months ago, and how on May 17 they’re having the Daniel Bardem Memorial Games there.
Jackie Bardem remembers the gym at Our Lady of Refuge when she was just Jackie Giblin.
“It was safe and fun,” she recalls. “No drugs, no violence, no gangs. The guys and girls mingled together. There was no social media then. No cell phones. Just kids interacting with each other, laughing, carrying on. We all made friendships that have lasted a lifetime.”
The money realized on May 17, as well as that which came from other fund-raising events, will be used for a new gym floor plus refurbishing the entire facility. The honor to her son means a great deal to Jackie.
“The idea that the youth center where I learned about life as a kid will be named after my son Daniel is a very special thing for me,” she said. “That other kids will come there to be safe and have fun and learn about life is fitting because Danny was all about helping other kids. One neighbor described Daniel as ‘an old soul in the body of a child.’ He was such an unusual kid, so giving, so kind, always so concerned about others. Just like the people of my old neighborhood.”
That goes for the people of Newtown as well. A teacher, Jackie Bardem had stopped working after the massacre, which left 26 dead—six staff members in addition to the 20 young pupils. The world stopped too for a time, but this year Jackie resumed teaching, and all of her family’s friends came through.
 “Last week,” she said, “I came home and neighbors who knew I’d started working again left prepared meals for us. The kindness here from so many people has been overwhelming. I guess you can say I’ve seen the best people can be. And, of course, the worst. But there are more good people, and that gives me comfort.
“Now my son’s name goes up on the youth center. Where I grew up. Amazing.”
Reason to count one’s blessings, certainly, this Mother’s Day. And, come to think of it, for many Mother’s Days yet to come.
For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, GETTING THROUGH GRIEF WITH GOD, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@ christophers.org                        

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