This story is very inspirational. Raymond L. Flynn, the former mayor of Boston, truly has a heart of gold. Both he and his wife are devoted to their grandson Braeden, who has a rare neurological disorder. This story brings a potpourri of emotions to the surface for me. This true life story is both heartwarming and heart wrenching. My thoughts and prayers go out to both Braeden and his family. I will be praying for scientists to find a cure for Braeden's neurological disorder and intercessory prayers for Pope John Paul II to intercede and provide a miracle for this little boy. Here is the story.
Raymond L. Flynn, the former Boston mayor, walked through the North End, shaking hands and saying hello to those who recognized him. At Hanover and Parmenter streets, Flynn and his wife, Kathy, paused to share a laugh with an old friend about his days in office and his presidential connections.
But this stroll wasn’t about politics. It was about Braeden, the Flynns’ grandson.
Flynn has no shortage of grandchildren — his two sons and four daughters have brought him 17. But Braeden gets most of their attention, and has become the private preoccupation of a man who had devoted his days to public service. The 4-year-old has a rare neurological disorder, called a small cerebellum, which means he can’t walk without falling and is unable to speak. There is no cure.
“Mr. Mayor, how are you? Is that your kid?’’ asked a police officer directing traffic near the Greenway carousel as Flynn pushed Braeden’s ocean-themed stroller from the New England Aquarium to Galleria Umberto pizzeria.
“My grandson,’’ Flynn responded, as Braeden smothered a newly purchased stuffed animal with hugs and kisses. “I like the
Red Sox, and he likes penguins.’’
Flynn, 71, was mayor from 1984 to 1993, when he resigned to become the US ambassador to the Vatican and moved to Rome. He returned in 1997. A year later, he lost his bid for a seat in the US House and retired.
During his time in office, Flynn was a populist mayor. He rode snow plows, jogged to every neighborhood, and advocated for the homeless as well as the parents of special-needs children. His hardscrabble Southie roots as the son of a dock worker hospitalized for years with tuberculosis shaped many of his public policies.
Health care, Flynn said, has always been a passion. As mayor, he worked to ensure that Boston City Hospital stayed a place where people could receive medical care, regardless of their ability to pay. “I don’t think it should be a political question,’’ he said. “You should do everything you can to help people with sicknesses.’’
But health care has become a personal mission. Much of Flynn’s retirement is consumed by Braeden.
The toddler, with bright brown eyes and a mischievous smile, spends almost every Tuesday night at Nana and Papa’s house, and most Wednesdays they do something together, usually a trip to a South Boston park. Braeden is the only one of Flynn’s grandchildren with special needs, and Flynn is constantly searching for scientific answers for Braeden’s medical problems.
The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls balance, coordination, and muscle control. Since Braeden’s is too small, he can’t talk, and falls when he walks.
He wears blue leg braces, but his grandmother said they don’t help much. He wears a body brace, too, but she said it doesn’t help much either.
The helmet he wears to cushion the impact when he falls doesn’t always stop the hurt, evident by a small, deep-blue lump healing over his right eye.
“Every night and every morning, I just say my prayers to God that they find a way for Braeden to walk, because it’s heartbreaking every time you see him fall,’’ Kathy Flynn said.
But Braeden is far from helpless.