Remembering Ma Siss

Bobby Constantino says goodbye to Idene Wilkerson, better known as Ma Siss, the de facto matriarch of Quincy Street in Dorchester, who took him in when he arrived in town in 2006 as a newly minted lawyer - with no money and no place to stay:

There were cold, dark winter nights when I would come home from a day of running around, exhausted, frozen, and starving. I would walk up the steps to my room in the building Ma owned, full of hunger and pride, angry and conflicted over whether to knock and ask for food. I often decided against it, ashamed to be begging for food with an advanced degree on my resume.

Nearly every time this would happen, I would walk up the stairs, go into my room brooding and griping, and no sooner take off my coat than a knock would come at the door, one of Ma’s children or grandchildren, or one of the neighbors, or one of the many people that helped out around the neighborhood, with a hot plate of food, baked chicken, greens, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, beans, black eyed peas, and so on, wrapped in foil, condensation steaming on the underside, set aside for me, and a small black plastic bag full of canned goods, vegetables, and other groceries. I have never met someone with such intuition for people in need. Somehow she knew. She always knew.

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