By Emily Drooby
Mathew Thankachan’s father, Thankachan Mathai, was taken from him 10 months ago – a victim of COVID-19.
“I feel, like, a flood of emotions, and sadness,” he told Currents News. His dad is one of 136 Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) employees lost to the virus, memorialized in an eight minute video. Matthew saw it in person for the first time.
For many, the MTA is just part of their commute, but for Matthew’s father, it was much more.
“He just got this job right as his son was born, so God gave him two good things at the same time,” he explained.
Twenty years on the job, he was a cleaner at a station in Queens when he passed.
“My dad was always very grateful for this job,” said Matthew, “and this memorial, it’s like the MTA is grateful for him.”
Now Matthew is grateful for his Catholic faith, this memorial, and for family moments like the ones depicted in photos.
“At heart he was a family man, so that’s why we picked that photo,” Matthew explained of the memorial video called “Travels Far.”
So many faces lost to the pandemic: heroes – transit workers who risked everything to keep the city running.
“It was so important to us to honor these frontline workers, who came in when other people were able to stay home and they came in to make sure we could get police officers where they needed to be, healthcare workers where they needed to be,” said Monica Murray, Chief Administrative Officer for NYC Transit.
Their fellow employees still do that, every single day.
In mid-January, just days after the MTA’s 70,000 employees became eligible to get vaccinated, shots were already going into transit workers arms, with both agency and union top officials urging their employees to get vaccinated.
The MTA also working on its own not-yet-released vaccination plan.
As for these 136 families, the MTA is providing them with liaisons – point people to help with anything from grief counseling to collecting life insurance.
“Seeing this video helped me to know that I’m not alone,” said Matthew.
Just like family, the MTA is proving that their lines run deep.