We moved to 21 Sparks Street in Cambridge in 1974. A bright yellow triple decker with a red door, it stood at the head of a dead end populated by worker cottages that had once been home to servants who worked up the road on Brattle Street. It housed three women. The oldest, Mrs. Crowley, ancient even then, lived on the third floor. Her daughter, Louise, known to me forever as Mrs. Sughrue, lived on the second floor with her adult daughter, Cathy. Before renting the first floor apartment to my parents, Mrs. Sughrue invited them up to her place. My father played the piano and recited some lines of Gaelic poetry to Mrs. Crowley. That sealed it. They were in.
Three years after we arrived, Cathy gave birth to a round-faced, red-haired girl she named Danielle, whose existence made it four generations of women under one roof. Over the next twenty years, only one man ever visited them. He came when Mrs. Crowley died. He came when Cathy died of a heart attack in her forties. I do not know, but I am sure that he came, too, in the 1950s, when Mrs. Sughrue’s husband, a Cambridge police officer, died prematurely. When they were just two, grandmother and granddaughter, living together with the pain of loss, he came on Sundays for short visits.
"The Place Where You Are,"
New England Journal of Public Policy: Vol. 28
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umb.edu/nejpp/vol28/iss2/4