You've got to really like someone to name your kid after them. I mean, it's kind of a big deal to bestow that particular honor. Mary Tyler Son is named after our soon to be retiring Mayor. Not Richard, that's too obvious.
And not Dick, that's just mean - - I love my boy. Mary Tyler Son's middle name is Daley. No joke. I'd tell you his first name, but then folks would really make fun of me.
When our boy was born Mr. Mary Tyler Mom, New England born and bred as he is, needed a bit of convincing and coaxing before agreeing to my South Side Irish request, but just a bit. Our rationale is that we wanted Mary Tyler Son to know where he came from and what better way than to slap on Daley as his moniker.
I mean, seriously folks, what other word comes close to calling forth our Second City more so than Daley? Mary Tyler Son is gonna know where his roots are. When he grows up and chooses to leave behind his old mom and dad, Sweet Home Chicago will always be whispering his name.
I've been trying to get a photo with Mary Tyler Son and his namesake since last August, before Richard M. announced his retirement plans. I wrote a nice letter, attached a photo of the happy family to demonstrate we were benign a family as they come, and sent it off to City Hall, as instructed by the rude girl answering the phone at the Mayor's office. Nothing. Huh.
I reached out to my old neighbor, the former liquor commissioner. Nothing. Huh. I reached out to my alderman, whose aide told me, and I quote, "Nobody wants to waste a favor with the Mayor."
I reached out to my mom's best friend's daughter, now married to another alderman. That looked promising, but then, nothing. Huh. I sent other letters. Nothing. Huh.
When Richard M. announced his retirement, I shed a few tears. I'm not kidding. I didn't understand it myself until I read Mary Schmich's column about him being a father figure to the whole of the City a day or so later. Then I got it.
Soon after I started this odyssey, that announcement came and I panicked, and then I thought, nah, it's too good a story, he's gonna eat it up - - seriously, what higher compliment is there than to ensure a legacy through a namesake? Tsk, tsk, tsk, who knew it would be so hard? Certainly not I. But never underestimate the powers of a determined mother. Never.
Growing up Irish Catholic in the south suburbs, you couldn't help but respect our own home grown Kennedys. The day Richard J. died in office, I was six and playing at a neighbor's home. I heard the news on their tee vee and scooted home pronto. I wanted to be with my family.
My six year old self felt that I needed to be with family. I sat, rapt, and watched Fahey Flynn, another Chicago Irish icon I wanted to name a kid after (Mr. Mary Tyler Mom put his foot down on that one) report the news. The end of an era, it was. But then, just thirteen years later, Richard M. moved into City Hall.
Mayor Daley II and I have something in common. We are both members of what I sadly refer to as the "terrible fraternity" - - parents who have buried a child. He lost a young son, two years old, I believe, to spina biffada in the early 80s.
I had met Mayor Daley before, at a Children's Memorial Hospital event we were invited to when my dear Donna was going through her cancer treatment. I saw a smile on his face, but sadness in his eyes. It really made an impression on me.
I didn't know at that time that he had lost a son, but when I read that fact a year or so later, my memories jumped back to the event at Children's and the sadness in those eyes. I understand that sadness now. It is my sadness, too. It is a bitch (all apologies, Dad, I promised I would not swear).
So, yeah, Mayor Daley is my hero. He wakes up every day and gets through that day and sleeps to wake again. Being relatively new in my grief, that means something to me. And through his grief, he championed what he lovingly refers to as "the best City in the world."
Politics aside, folks, he loves his home, I love my home, it is our home. Last weekend, Mr. Mary Tyler Mom and I brought little Mary Tyler Son to the Neighborhood Appreciation Tour to meet his namesake. He did, we did, and here's the shot to prove it: