My parents spent the majority of their adult lives as residents of south Georgia. To us kids, most of whom were born in or near our folks’ hometown, the Coastal Empire was home.
To mom and dad, going home meant going back to Boston. It’s where they grew up in the mean streets and tenements. As much as dad held few fond memories of his upbringing there, it was still home and he relished making visits there.
I spent a few summers there, running the streets with my cousins, including one who is now a cop in Boston. She’s the last person I ever figured would be a cop. But she is a good one.
Boston has great institutions of higher learning and some of the best hospitals and doctors in the world. It has a history, and a sense of history, like few other places in North America.
Yet it is a small town, really, a collection of neighborhoods strung together by a terrific mass transit system and old, creaky roads with some incredibly aggressive drivers.
I used to walk to my uncle’s house in Quincy from my aunt’s house in Dorchester. Neponsent, to be exact. The same neighborhood where Martin Richard lived. On Sundays, I attended St. Ann’s Church on Neponset Avenue. The same church Martin Richard attended.
I don’t know the Richards — my relatives have decamped from Neponset — nor do I know the other two young people needlessly and cruelly killed Monday. I do know Boston, though, and I know the Neponset neighborhood. It is a great city, a terrific place to visit, and its people are hearty, caring, giving souls.
They will find whoever did this. They will meet justice. Boston will shake off this tragedy, even though it will never be lost to the city’s great history. Instead, it will be part of its future, a hallmark of how people can respond in the face of unspeakable and unfathomable tragedy.