It’s been 18 years since my younger brother walked through the door with his new baby boy in his arms. My brother was extremely nervous about his new role, I can remember his face turning bright red when he couldn’t figure out how to get his son to stop crying. He was fast to quip “How the F do I get him to chill out?”….my mother and I gave a few pointers over the course of that first day….but beyond that day I can’t recall him ever asking again. My young brother seemed to be a natural and was able to cultivate this incredible bond with his new son. Over the years it seemed pretty normal to find them both showing up at the same basketball or street hockey tourneys. On Saturdays you could catch them down at Mark Deluca’s boxing clinic so my nephew could learn how to take his lumps. This eventually led to hockey, and my brother making the trek all over eastern Massachusetts for his games. One day a good friend pulled up next to them as they sat in the car down at the Dunks on Morrissey. “They were both sitting there reading the Herald and laughing” my friend said in amazement. He could not get over how they were like old friends rather than father and son….my nephew was barely able to see over the dash at the time.
Mom was a bit of a different force, she was as nurturing as any mom should be but had a specific vision for her son. Huge on education and not a fan of excuses, she was the one who drove accountability. She seemed to approach it all with this boundless energy. Whether it was school projects at St. Brendans or watching over his grades at Catholic Memorial, she brought something to the table that seemed to strike balance all while pursuing her own nurse practitioners license at UMass. I guess you could say Mom kept everything from turning into a complete Frat party.
And of course, Dorchester also had its role. All of his neighbors and close friends helped him develop his grit and common sense. His experience here played a vital role in his love of country.
Yesterday, all of this culminated when my nephew left the family he knows here in Dorchester for his new family in Fort Benning Georgia. I am going to miss him … but I know his new brothers and sisters have his back.