• Charlie Keating funeral procession

    Charlie Keating funeral procession

  • Navy SEAL talks about losing Charlie Keating IV

    Navy SEAL talks about losing Charlie Keating IV

  • A sandcastle memorial to Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV

    A sandcastle memorial to Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV

  • Navy SEAL Charlie Keating privately married

    Navy SEAL Charlie Keating privately married

  • Childhood friend remembers Charlie Keating

    Childhood friend remembers Charlie Keating

  • Remembering Charlie Keating IV, Navy SEAL and Arizonan

    Remembering Charlie Keating IV, Navy SEAL and Arizonan

  • White House defends Iraq mission after Navy SEAL death

    White House defends Iraq mission after Navy SEAL death

Krista Keating-Joseph had her mother, Charlie’s grandmother, draw illustrations for the book.

When her son was struggling to keep up in high school track and field and cross country, Krista Keating-Joseph wrote a book about him, for him.

It was nothing huge, just a short children’s book about Charlie’s perseverance, despite the fact that he was smaller than the other runners. She had her mother — his grandmother — draw illustrations for it. 

As Charlie grew bigger, won his first medal and even earned a small college scholarship for running, she wrote a happy ending for the book and considered it done. It lay on a shelf, and although Charlie asked her to publish it, she never got around to it. 

Krista finally published the book last month in memory of her son, Charles H. Keating IV,  the 31-year-old U.S. Navy SEAL who was shot and killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq on May 3, 2016. 

“When he died I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to finish this book because it’s the right thing to do,’ ” Keating-Joseph said. “It was really to do something Charlie always wanted me to do, and do it for him, and finish it.”

Finding himself – and each other – in running

Known as C-4 or Charlie, Keating had always been an adventurous, fun-loving risk taker. The family often skied, scuba-dived, went paragliding and played roller hockey together. For one Mother’s Day when he was in high school, he took everyone to play paintball.

He got his knack for running from his mother. Keating-Joseph started by bringing him on her runs when he was in second grade, and although she offered to stop whenever he needed to, he never did. They started running together before school.

MORE: Thousands mourn fallen Navy SEAL Charlie Keating at Coronado funeral, procession

He was a good runner when he entered Arcadia High School, but struggled to compete against juniors and seniors. Then he was just 5′ 6″ and very thin, she said, much smaller than the muscular 6′ 1″ he reached as an adult. 

“He gave his 100 percent effort as hard as he could just to keep up with these kids,” Keating-Joseph said, calling from Florida.

“He had the best attitude of anybody I’ve ever known,” she continued. “I mean seriously, he was positive, he was happy – unless he was hungry – but he was happy and he was really a professional.”

His work ethic and determination inspired her to finish “Big-Hearted Charlie Runs The Mile.”

“He taught me something when he died: He taught me that it’s time to live right now,” Keating-Joseph said. “I don’t get upset anymore over really stupid things: driving a car, you know, waiting in line. I try to smile at people I can see are having a bad day.”

“You have to realize that you gotta go through life and keep a good attitude and live every day as if it’s your last actually,” she said, choking up. 

Remembering “Big-Hearted Charlie”

She never would have finished the book if she hadn’t realized that, she said. She wrote a new ending about him going on to become a SEAL and saving others’ lives, and asked her mother, Phyllis Holmes, to add more drawings. 

“It was very cathartic to sit there and go through these pictures” that her mother drew, she said. “I wanted to make a tribute to Charlie that kids are going to read and not forget him, and I guess when a parent loses a son or a daughter, you just don’t want the world to forget them.”

She’s also started running again every day, a practice she said she hasn’t done for years. 

The book is available through her website, kristakeatingjoseph.com, and on Amazon for about $13. 

Keating and his team, SEAL Team One, had been based in Coronado, the California island city. Before his death, he had chosen to be buried at Fort Rosecrans, the national cemetery in San Diego. He was awarded the silver star for his actions in Iraq and posthumously promoted to chief petty officer.

MORE: On Coronado, mementos and memories of Navy SEAL Charlie Keating

Although she’s been back to Coronado since his funeral, Keating-Joseph said she plans to honor the first anniversary of his death by golfing with her daughter in Florida. They were together when they found out he had died, and want to remember him by taking part in one of his favorite activities. 

“Every book that’s sold, I feel like he won a race,” she said. “I feel like there’s one more person who’s going to remember Charlie, and it’s a great feeling in my heart to know that’s gonna carry on.”

Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2p3TpoQ