As I sat at my desk in the campaign office reaching out to volunteers to make a final push to get voters out in the state representative’s race I am working on, the news of former Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s death flashed across the television screen in the reception area. In spite of the announcement the prior week that the Mayor had decided to stop treatment for his aggressive cancer and cancel his book tour so that he could spend quality time with his family, I like thousands of other Bostonians was shocked and brought to tears.
Throughout the day, as the non-stop coverage continued, I found myself choking up over the Mayor’s passing and fighting back tears as I continued emailing and calling volunteers. I thought about closing the office and retreating to my couch where I could wrap myself in a blanket, drink a cup of Harney’s Cinnamon Sunrise tea while gluing myself to my twitter feed and local news. There was however only five days until Election Day.
Today, when I woke up to a cold New England morning I knew that the rain and snow would not stop thousands of Greater Bostonians from standing in the cold to pay respects to Boston’s longest serving mayor, his wife Angela and their family as Mayor Menino lay in state in historic Faneuil Hall.
For the most part when a celebrity or politician dies I am inclined to not stand outside the funeral service or attend any ceremonies because I feel like to do so is imposing myself like an unwelcomed house guest upon the grieving families. But, I must admit that on occasion there are people who have given so much of themselves to a community that the community members feel like part of the person’s large extended “family”. I have only felt this twice in my life – when Senator Ted Kennedy passed away in 2009 and now with Mayor Tom Menino. In 2009, I stood in the hot summer sun outside the Kennedy library with thousands of others whom Ted Kennedy had touched for my moment to say goodbye to the senior Senator from Massachusetts and thank his family. Today, I would have stood in the cold and precipitation outside of Faneuil Hall to pay my respects to the Mayor and his family.
In the end, I decided with two days left before Election Day that the Mayor, a stalwart of the Democratic Party, would have admired the choice to continue campaigning for a Democratic candidate in a too close to call race for State Representative. So I campaigned and reached out to voters and volunteers while just as I had done on Thursday when the announcement was made about his death, I periodically checked my twitter feed to feel connected to the news and the public farewell to Boston’s longest serving mayor, Tom from Hyde Park.