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.
“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…