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A Cheer for Mother

“Who ran to help when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
My Mother”
“My Mother” by Ann Taylor (1804)

Although my younger brother Jackie and I lost our mother when we were very young (10 and 6), we were fortunate to have a wonderful grandmother and two terrific aunts, Getta and Ethel, who watched out for us. Thanks to their love and concern, we turned out okay.

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One of the nicest things that Hubby and I attend each May is the mayor’s Annual Sunday Brunch. Thanks to Eileen Collins, we learned the date of the brunch, May 5. We were sorry that Eileen was unable to attend because of a prior commitment. We picked up pal Eileen Burke and drove to the IBEW Hall, which was already filled with cars. It is a very popular event, so it is well attended.

We found an almost empty table and sat down. Pals Cathy Coyne and Peggy McDonough were sitting at the next table. Hubby saw a coffee urn and hurried to get us coffee because it was a very chilly morning. (When we went out a little earlier to get the Sunday newspapers, it was just 40 degrees.) Who was sitting at the next table but Peter Meade. Both Eileen and I went over to see him. Eileen had had his kids in St. Ann’s Band. I saw Irene Roman at a distance and hoped I would get a chance to chat with her later. We saw Sister Paula Tinlin, from the Carney Hospital, at the coffee station and waved to her. Friend Joe Chaisson was sitting at the next table. I went over to his table and kidded him about seeing him three times in a little over a week. “We must stop meeting like this,” I said to him. We both laughed. Pals Gregory and Sarah Ashe were sitting near the door. We waved several times to them.

We had chosen a table that was perfect. The line for food had changed from near the coffee station to right through the middle of the tables and right in front of us. Sister Peggy Youngclaus, from the Simon of Cyrene Society, came over to chat with us. Sister Paula was in line and introduced me to her brother Tom, father of one of my city friends, Tom Tinlin Jr, the city’s transportation commissioner. I told Sister Paula and Tom how much I liked Tom Jr. (I had met him quite a few years ago at the Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner.) I saw Caroline Innello and Claire Perry sitting nearer the stage. They introduced me to their friend Carol Coakley later that morning. “No, sorry, I am not related to Martha Coakley,” said Carol.
Also in the food line was Connie Sullivan, who jumped out of her spot to say, “Hi.” Connie worked in former City Councilor Maureen Feeney’s office and dealt mainly with the seniors in the district. She looked wonderful and was still concerned about the seniors attending the brunch. Thelma Burns waved to me from her place in line. Steve Tankle also came by. I saw his wife Carla a little later and spoke with her. Their two girls, Ava McCoy Tankle and Alannah Murphy Tankle, were also at the brunch. I kidded Carla, whose maiden name is “Murphy,” because one of my grandmothers, who was born in Ireland, was Mary Murphy.

I must mention the cutest little baby at the IBEW Hall brunch: Violet Clare Habershaw, who was born on March 10. Violet and her Mom Deirdre were at Frank Baker’s re-election party at the Old Colony Yacht Club on Victory Road last Thursday. When I asked for Violet’s info, Deirdre told me that Violet’s Dad is Auston Habershaw and that she is the granddaughter of Cathleen Meade and the late Billy McDermott. I told Deirdre how sorry we were at the sudden death of her Dad, someone who had done so much for Dorchester. Violet had on the cutest dress at the Sunday Brunch. It had a beautiful flower on the back of the baby’s dress. I never saw the front of her dress because someone was always holding her. She is such a good baby.

Then it was time for us to get in the food line, which was much shorter than it had been. There were trays of scrambled eggs, bacon (lovely and crisp), sausages, home fries, French toast, bagels, Danish pastry, probably three kinds of muffins, and a lovely fruit cup, with scrumptious pineapple, plus tasty orange juice. The coffee was wonderful, nice and warm on that cool morning.

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I was fortunate to speak with Ryan Woods, director of programming and recreation for the city of Boston. He was so pleased to tell me that there will be five Wednesday Evening Concerts on City Hall Plaza this summer. The Stylistics will be featured on July 24. I almost drooled when he said that Disco Night will be held on July 31. On August 7, there will be a “Tribute to Frank Sinatra” with a Sinatra “sound-a-like.” On Aug. 21, we will watch the Drifters with Charlie Thomas. Wed., Aug. 28, is a positively wonderful concert, with Roberta Flack. (If she ever sings “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and/or “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” I’ll be in heaven.)

There were some politicians at the brunch. City Councilor Rob Consalvo, who is running for mayor, came to our table to greet us. City Councilor Charles Yancey, who is also running for mayor, greeted us. Our friend and neighbor Jean Hunt came over to chat. Following closely behind her was her 10-year-old granddaughter, Ella Grace, daughter of her son Jim and daughter-in-law Robin. (I remember when Ella first came to the mayor’s brunch; she was about three years old.) John O’Toole, from the Cedar Grove Civic Association, was sitting at the table behind us. Gloria Vieira came over to see me. I was amazed at how wonderful she looked. (She is down to a size 8.) I told her that she looked the way very much like my Cousin Sis looked at the same age. Jim Rooney, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center, enjoyed a cup of coffee at our table. Bill Walczak, a candidate for Mayor of Boston, was sitting an a nearby table. State Rep. Marty Walsh, yet another mayoral candidate, also came over to our table to greet us. The speaker at the microphone kidded us by saying that he would not name all the candidates for mayor “or we’ll be here all day.”

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Former Senator Jack Hart was the emcee at the brunch. He mentioned that, in 1993, when the mayor took office, the top-selling song was “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. He cited many of the improvements that Mayor Menino is responsible for during his 20 years “at the helm.” In 1993, 25 percent of Boston School students graduated from high school. That number is now at 86 percent. I was amazed that the city feeds some 2,000 homeless people each day. Jack invited Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, the Democratic candidate in the final election for the state Senate seat that he left earlier this year, to come to the microphone. She urged everyone to vote on May 28. She thanked the mayor for his wonderful achievements during his two decades as the city’s chief executive.

Then it was time for the mayor to speak. When he was introduced, he received a long, standing ovation. The first thing that he said was, “I am not retiring; I am transitioning!” Everyone laughed and clapped. He thanked his wife Angela, who has assisted him throughout his political career. He introduced his children and grandchildren. He thanked his staff for their wonderful work. When he had finished speaking, the line of people wishing to speak with him and to have their photo taken with him re-formed. It must have taken several hours for all those in line to greet the mayor. He certainly deserved all the accolades he received.

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I did have a chance to speak with Angela Menino. I thanked her for being such a great “fill-in” when the mayor was unable to attend a function. I reminded her of the time she filled in for him at the celebration for those married 50 years. (Hubby and I were there.) I thanked her for the kindnesses that the mayor extends to the many seniors in the city.

Just before we left the IBEW Hall, I had a chance to speak with Alex Gray, a political analyst for Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration. His relative, Cathy Coyne, had introduced Alex to me earlier that morning. She proudly told me that Alex, who has been blind since he was nine years old, had recently passed the bar exam. I congratulated him. He graduated from Suffolk Law School after studying there for three and one-half years. Bravo, Alex! When I went back to our table, former state Sen. Bill Bulger and his wife Mary were speaking with our friend Eileen. I did have a chance a chance to chat with Mary. I kidded her about Mother’s Day. With all the Bulger kids and 30 plus grandchildren, it would be a hectic day for her. She told me that she and Bill would be attending the First Communion of one of their grandchildren that morning. The rest of the day, she would probably be cooking. I wished her well and she laughed.

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I was so happy that Hubby, Eileen, and I were able to attend the mayor’s brunch. It is such a lovely time every year. There are so many nice people to meet and greet, people that we don’t often see. We thank the mayor for having it. We thank him also, for his kindness to the city’s seniors. We hope that we will see him again before he retires in about 240 days and we wish him well.

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I hope that all our mothers and grandmothers enjoy Sunday with their families!