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Boston Herald: Bond Of Brothers

Posted 04/04/2014

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Bond of Brothers
April 4, 2014
By: Margery Eagan

In the same church where the funeral of firefighter Michael Kennedy took place yesterday, Susan Eastman of West Roxbury spoke last week about the rare generosity of Kennedy and Lt. Ed Walsh — not just as firefighters but as men.
“It all makes me want to be a better person,” she said.
 
That’s a fitting epitaph for Michael Kennedy as the 33-year-old firefighter was laid to rest yesterday.
 
An inspiration to do better may be the lasting legacies of both fallen firefighters.
Wearing the blazer, slacks and tie Kennedy’s mother, Kathy, bought him Monday, a somber-faced Alex Beauzile walked slowly down the center aisle of Holy Name Church yesterday to present the gifts at the altar for the man he loved, and who loved him back.
 
For seven years Kennedy was a “big brother” to Alex, who’s 14 now and lives in Milton. “Alex and Mike together were like Disney World,” said Alex’s mother, Genie, after the funeral. “We weren’t related as blood but he made it seem like that. He gave Alex things I couldn’t as a single mother.”
 
Playing video games and pickup basketball, snowboarding, watching sports, going to Celtics games and Six Flags in Agawam. Once, when Alex got in trouble, Kennedy applied a little tough love: He had Alex fill buckets with rocks as Kennedy landscaped in his backyard. “It showed me that what I did was wrong,” Alex told the Herald two days after Kennedy was killed. “The next time I just calmed down.”
Alex’s mother said yesterday, “At the wake and funeral I kept hearing about ‘the rocks, the rocks.’ I’m like, wow, this man let everybody know about Alex. As a mother it’s an honor to feel such love and understanding. That even through hard times, everything is going to be all right because the light has to shine.”
 
And shine the light has. Since the story of Alex and Michael Kennedy made the news, “There’s been an amazing response from Michael’s friends and firefighters wanting to become big brothers,” said Nora Leary of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Massachusetts. It’s also come from regular Joes and Janes, said Deborah Re, of Big Sisters of Greater Boston.
 
The waiting list is still very long, Re said. Eight hundred boys between 7 and 12 are waiting for mentors, as are 350 girls between 8 and 15. But Re said they’ve just found a possible match for Alex’s sister Gabby, 13. Leary said the Big Brothers are planning to meet with Alex and his mother when the time is right to see if he wants another big brother.
 
Losing Kennedy, Alex’s mother said yesterday, has been hard for her son.
“He used to tell me, ‘When I get to certain age, mommy, I’m gonna move to Mike’s house,’” she said. “That will not happen now, he understands. But the memories will last forever.”
 
Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, she said, “was the best gift my son ever had.”
 
Erin Smith contributed to this report.