November, 2005 Manchester, New Hampshire
In the spring of 1987 I had become friends with an emigree from Sierre Leone named Jamal Dayek. Jamal was working at a Mobil Station in Lynn & had struck up a conversation with me after seeing my “Free Mandela” & “End Apartheid” stickers on the back of my Pontiac Phoenix. When I returned from Venezuela he introduced me to his fiancee, Laura Hackett.
We had great times talking politics over cold beers & Popeye’s Chicken. When Hugh Masekela & Miriam Makeba came to Boston I invited them to join me & Hillary to see their concert. In September I was invited to their wedding. They became my best friends in Lynn. The following year I persuaded Laura to apply for a per diem employee position at Greater Lynn Mental Health & Retardation Association. Ultimately we would hire Laura to work full time at our vocational program. She would work there until she became pregnant with her daughter Myriam. Jamal & Laura moved to Derry, New Hampshire in 1992 & problems began to arise in their marriage. Lynn was a considerably more urban location with greater supports.
When Kathy & I got married in September 2000, I had invited them & was sad to learn they were separated. I lost touch with Jamal around this time but would from time to time see Laura at our mutual friends the Thomas’ family home in Lynn. Laura went through some hard times. I learned she & her children had lived in homeless shelters, she had been sick, all difficult. I begged her to move back to Lynn where she would be closer by in case she needed us. We didn’t hear from Laura for awhile & then I learned the sad news that she had died tragically after getting lost in the woods near Manchester, N.H. Laura was a beautiful, kind, funny & dynamic friend. I’m sure she graduated to angel status.