New London - Hayden Lawrence Keating passed away at the Yale-New Haven Children's ICU on Dec. 30, 2012, after a sudden medical crisis. Throughout the ordeal, his loving family surrounded him.
Hayden was the son of Patrick T. Keating and special half-mom, Susie Smith. Hayden was born on Feb. 6, 2002, as a four pound preemie. His cousins affectionately dubbed him "Nugget" due to his tiny size as a baby, but Hayden's stature was always exceeded by his giant heart, a huge love of life, and a big laugh that made everyone around him want to join in.
Hayden and his father Patrick were inseparable and the best of buddies. From his father, he inherited a tremendous sense of humor and a love of camping, sports, travel, and his family, and a zest for taking on any adventure as long as they were together. Although an only child, Hayden had an enormous extended family, which included dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was always appreciative of being surrounded by and spending time with loved ones.
Hayden often visited his grammy and aunt, Ann Marie in Mystic. No matter what they did, watching movies, drawing at the kitchen table, or eating homemade waffles for breakfast, Hayden delighted in it. He laughed at his grammy's jokes and stories, and the fact that she could still boss his father and uncles around when they needed it.
Sleepovers and visits to uncle Larry and aunt Jen's house in Waterford were special. He and his cousin Justin shared a love for baseball, and he spent the past summer with his cousin Jake watching him. Hayden said that last summer was one of his best, because he spent it with Jake. He enjoyed his first trip to aunt Jen's family's house in Stonington, Maine. He had his first taste of steamers with butter there and was hooked.
Hayden also spent joyful times with his aunt Eileen and uncle Chris in Colchester. He loved making giant whirlpools in the swimming pool and being launched off the deck by his cousins, Chris, Kevin, and Sam. Their adjustable basketball hoop enabled him to slam dunk a basketball with a little help from the taller boys. He loved the annual Fourth of July fireworks display put on by his uncle Chris. He loved hearing stories from his uncles about how aunt Eileen used to keep them in line when they were younger.
His aunt Jeanne, uncle Rick, and cousins, Callan and Carli, were special to Hayden. Although he pretended to be a Yankees fan (it depended on who was asking), Jeanne always made sure Hayden had enough Red Sox gear to match his Yankees gear. He loved the Green Monster replica aunt Jeanne painted on the front wall of his basement "man cave". Recently, he toured Fenway Park and took batting practice on the field, thanks to his cousin Cal, and his favorite DJ cousin Carli would give him radio shout-outs on his birthday.
Visits from uncle Ken, aunt Ruth, and cousins, Shannon and Loren from Puerto Rico, made him happy. He looked forward to a guys trip to go fishing on uncle Ken and aunt Ruth's boat. Hayden knew he could outdo his uncles in marlin fishing.
Hayden loved his uncle Tommy and cousins, Ethan and Conor from Griswold. He thought Tommy was hilarious and appreciated that Tommy included him in family activities and ensured that he would always have a ride when work schedules conflicted and times were hectic.
Many of Hayden's school vacations were spent with the Florida Keatings, uncle Mike and aunt Jen. He was able to go to Florida beaches with his cousins, Brody, Kelsea, and Paige. He, Brody, and Kelsea were the closest in age out of the younger cousins, and they hit it off right from diapers to sneakers.
He loved his aunt Megan and uncle Jeff of Rhode Island and adored his cousins, Jack and "Rhodey" Sam, not only because they were cousins, but also because those two knocked he and Brody out of being the littlest.
He loved his uncle Kevin and was in awe of Kevin's size and very proud that he is a major in the U.S. Marine Corps and was protecting him and enjoyed keeping "Shaka" Sam, his two-year-old cousin, out of trouble when they visited.
On Halloween, he would visit his great-aunt Julie and great-uncle Frank to show them his costume. He loved the stories they told him about his grandfather when they were children.
Hayden was also very lucky to have his special half-family, the Smiths and Ryans of New London and Noank, who took him in as one of their own when Hayden was very young. He was best friends with his half-cousin, Nora Ryan and counted Casey and Ray Ryan as his special half-brothers. He loved the sleepovers at uncle Hubba and aunt Carolyn's house and times at the beach with his half-cousin, Logan from California.
A fifth grade student at St. Joseph's School in New London, Hayden loved his friends, Jack, Dillon, and BB, and his teachers and classmates from the St. Joe's family. He enjoyed having good times at the McDowell's and Bergeron's and playing on the trampoline with his friends Jack, Dillon, and BB at the Hernandez house.
Hayden was a baseball player in the New London Little League. He was proud of an undefeated season with his teammates on the "Diggers" and being part of the all-star team. He embraced the motto that you gotta swing the bat to get a hit and get things done. At one time or another, all his coaches described him as the scrappiest kid they'd seen on a field or court.
His favorite teams were the New England Patriots, the Red Sox, Yankees, and the UConn Huskies, and he looked forward to watching Notre Dame play for the national title. He attended many games and enjoyed the tailgating cookouts before and after the games.
There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 4, at St. Joseph Church, Squire St., New London, Private burial, at the request of the family, will be after the Mass at St. Mary Cemetery, New London.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Hayden Keating St. Joseph's School Scholarship Fund, c/o Eileen McGrath, 847 Old Hartford Road, Colchester, CT 06415.
Condolence messages may be left on Hayden's memorial page at www.neilanfuneralhome.com