They spoke for the last time on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. It was a quick phone call between father and daughter, with the 9-year-old lamenting that she didn't want to get out of bed, didn't want to go to school.
But United Airlines co-pilot Mike Horrocks had a way of getting his daughter, Christa, going. After a few kind encouragements, she decided school wouldn't be so bad. Then came the last words they would ever share: "I love you up to the moon and back," he told her.
Sixty minutes later, terrorists would take over United Airlines Flight 175, diverting it off its course from Boston to Los Angeles and making it the second plane flown into the World Trade Center.
Nine years have passed since that last goodbye. Christa Horrocks is now 18 and a freshman scholarship track athlete at the College of Charleston.
While the rest of the country on Saturday will pause to remember the defining moment of this century, Horrocks will travel to a tiny Pennsylvania college where her father played football. She will speak to the crowd at West Chester University about a man who in one way is gone, but to Horrocks remains always there in spirit.
"Every decision I make, I try to think what he would do," she said.
Anyone who knew Michael Horrocks knew he was a stand-up guy. From playing football to joining the Marines and flying military planes, "Rocks" was pegged as a leader and teacher. "Michael showed me how to surf and play wiffle ball on a vacant lot," one friend posted on a post-9/11 website.
"Stickball on the beach, running bases, body surfing and wiping out, even in jellyfish-infested water while it was raining! Nothin' could stop us," said another.
Christa's memories of her father seem perpetually locked on the good times surrounding the Labor Day weekend before the attack. The family was boogie-boarding at the New Jersey shore. She was in the fourth grade. The seas were rough. He was gentle.
"He would pull the board forward so I would not get swept under the waves," she said. "I think that's a good example of how he was with everything. He just wanted to make sure we were taken care of and were having fun in everything we were doing."
On the day of the attacks, like he did before all his flights, Horrocks, 38, called home to suburban Philadelphia to speak to his wife, Miriam, daughter Christa, and son Mick.
Christa began to realize something was wrong that awful day when she was sitting in her school cafeteria and the other kids began talking about America being bombed. As the day progressed and details of the four hijackings became clearer, none of the teachers dared tell Christa that her father was probably dead.
"It was so my brother and I could have a last normal day as a family," she said of her mom stepping in.
The federal government's official post-9/11 report said the Flight 175 hijackers struck between 8:42 and 8:46 a.m., using knives and mace to overpower and murder the cabin crew. Seven flight attendants and 57 passengers also perished.
Later that afternoon, Christa and her family would gather at a local park where the children were told what happened. To this date, she has never watched video of the tower crash. "I know I have to at some point. I know I have to come to terms with it," she said. The family visited ground zero once, but she never got out of the car.
Elementary school was a struggle. So was middle school. Privacy disappeared as the media tried photographing the family's most personal moments. But Christa found her outlet in sports, just like her father had taught and encouraged. She drifted back to soccer and especially excelled at track.
"I really found running when he died," she said. "I just needed to get out of the house, so I'd go and just run for miles and miles."
When it came time for college, Christa wanted out of the Northeast. She sought the sun, the outdoors and a place where she could pursue a degree in marine biology. The College of Charleston seemed to fit.
C of C Track Coach Amy Seago offered Christa a partial scholarship, saying her speed wasn't so much the determining factor as it was her drive.
"It was just apparent she was someone who used a terrible tragedy in her life for something good in her life," Seago said. "She is mature beyond her years."
Today Christa remembers the dad who felt comfortable anywhere outdoors, enjoyed fishing from his Boston Whaler and catching frogs on a lark.
She also doesn't spend a lot of time locked on the circumstances of her father's death, saying there is more to be taken away in the spiritual positives. For nine years she's always felt "I will never be alone."
Various remembrances and memorials to the 9/11 terror attacks are scheduled in the area Saturday. Among them:
-- Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum invites the public to remember September 11, 2001, when participants will observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., when the North Tower of the World Trade Center was hit by a hijacked aircraft.
Guest speaker is Capt. Thomas Bailey, commanding officer of the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command. Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from the Coastal Carolina Council will participate as a part of Scout Surge 911.
The Yorktown will be open for arriving guests at 8 a.m. and admission is free until 8:30 a.m. The commemorative program begins at 8:30 a.m. Parking and admission are free until 8:30 a.m. patriotspoint.org.
-- St. John's High School will hold an annual 9/11 ceremony at 1518 Main Road, Johns Island, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
-- "Cry Out America" will hold a nationwide prayer gathering at area courthouses from noon to 1 pm.