The Families

July 27, 2013

The Boston trial of the alleged killer, Whitey Bulger, and his gang is in full bloom, now — the papers are filled every day with every sordid detail. As I read these accounts, I often wonder about the families of these infamous people. Not their mafia families, but their wives, their kids, their mothers and dads. I wonder if their families are like mine.My bootlegging father and innocent uncle were killed in a turf war with the mafia when I was 2 years old. His violent life and death profoundly affected my mother’s, brother’s and my life in secrets, guilt and loss, long after he was gone.

 

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“Oh,” my friend’s mother said, “I read about your daddy’s murder.”

 

I was 7 years old. My friend, Helene, had brought me home with her after school.

 

“No!” I said, shaking my head. “That wasn’t him. My father died of pneumonia.”

 

“It was when she was a baby,” she said to her husband. “The father was a bootlegger. The mafia killed him. I remember because it was in all the newspapers.”

 

When I was 4 my mother told me my father died of pneumonia. I believed her. I didn’t believe her. So when I got to be 12 I asked my older brother for the truth. Kenny said he remembered that night: the shots, our mother’s screams, the crying relatives, the police, the reporters, the neighbors all streaming in and out of our house and yard…

 

 

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