Tuesday, December 31, 2013

After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey

In 1970, Chicago newspaperman Robert Hainey died suddenly in the early hours of the morning. He was thirty-five and left behind a wife and two young sons, one of whom was Michael Hainey, then six years old.  Michael’s mother, Barbara, never discussed the death with her sons and curtly cut off all questions. This only heightened Michael’s need to know. When he was older, he found his father’s obituaries in library archives. He read that his father died on a Chicago street far from both his home and his workplace. The phrase “after visiting friends” was used, although the family had no friends in that area of Chicago. The desire to know the facts remained with Michael into adulthood. He became a journalist and eventually used his training to investigate the circumstances of his father’s death. His father’s co-workers claimed to be unable to tell him anything. But that was an answer he was unwilling to accept. He worked for years, searching out old medical records and finding long-ago acquaintances of his father’s until he arrived at the difficult truth. But he considered truth, as difficult as it was, better than ignorance or misinformation. In After Visiting Friends, the author has written a memoir about the difficulty of growing up fatherless in 1970’s Chicago, a time and place when there were no grievance counselors and stoic silence was considered a virtue.

Check out After Visiting Friends @ the library!