We grew up in the same small-town blue-collar neighborhood, a place of mailmen, truck drivers, salesmen, and teachers. We played basketball in our driveways, baseball in our backyards. On autumn Sundays we tossed footballs in a lumpy field across the railroad tracks.
For as far back as memory stretches, there has always been the three of us: Brendan and Connie and me. We cheered Lonborg in ’67. We drank Falstaff beer in the back of my brother Jimmy’s van. We wore garish tuxedos to the junior prom. One night, after a high school football game, when Connie wedged his father’s big car beneath a railroad trestle, we promised that one day we’d laugh about it. And we have.
It is an unspoken treasure, this friendship that dates to the beginning of childhood, when Brendan’s mom was our Cub Scout den mother, Connie’s dad would drive us down the Pike to Fenway, and my mom would make sure we weren’t late for altar-boy practice.
As adolescence blended into adulthood and the neighborhood cocoon became a warm memory, the miles that separated us and the real-life obligations that replaced our boyhood idylls could not dull a connection threaded into us as deeply as a strand of DNA.
When Connie announced he was entering the seminary to become a missionary, we threw him a beer-soaked going-away party at McNally’s. We toasted his vocation and gave him a stereo system we hoped would rock the prayer shop in Hingham. After Brendan was nearly killed in a car accident in Southborough, he decided to try life on the West Coast. We rented the local Elks hall and bade him farewell. The visit Connie and I paid him a year later was worthy of a Hollywood buddy film. That midnight ride on the Zamboni in an empty Santa Monica ice rink goes into the highlight reel.
Over the years we have leaned on one another. Connie’s dad died in 1989 when I was working in San Jose. I flew to Los Angeles, and Brendan and I took a red-eye flight to Logan in time for the funeral. A few years later, in the days before Brendan’s mom passed away, Connie and I sat with her in her hospital room and hoped that she remembered us. We were, she always told us, her favorites.
Connie spent time in the Philippines, Korea, and Taiwan while in the seminary, but a different life held a stronger call. Today he is a revered coach and the father of three. On his wedding day, Brendan and I stood next to him.
A few years ago, when we turned 50, my wife gave me a special present. She booked flights for Connie and me to visit Brendan in Florida, where we gossiped, ate and drank too much, and even stayed up past 11 one night. We also saw a new light in our friend’s eye. He had met Jackie, a proud daughter of Pittsburgh with a warm heart.
A few days after Christmas, we’ll be together again. When Brendan and Jackie exchange wedding vows in a historic Concord inn, I’ll stand up with him as his best man. Connie, in a role for which he is uncommonly prepared, will officiate and bless their vows. My mom and dad, two of our old neighborhood’s last stakeholders, will be there, God willing. Family and friends will raise their glasses and toast to love, commitment, and an unbreakable bond.
And Brendan and Connie and I will nod to one another, silently acknowledging the immutable, sustaining truth in those words.
Thomas Farragher is the editor of the Globe’s Spotlight Team. Send comments to email@example.com.
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