Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Father Asks: `Where Was I?'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Father Asks: `Where Was I?'

Article excerpt

MEET James Hardy.

Hardy's only son, Charles, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Chicago two years ago.

Hardy's wife died when his son was an infant, so he raised Charles alone. By all accounts, he did a good job. His son got good grades and was a high school track star. At 16, he was on his way to a positive future, his father thought.

And then it happened.

Hardy thought about telling his son no when the teen-ager asked to go with some friends to a party on that night in 1991.

Hardy was concerned because it was 9 p.m. and his son had no car. But he relented after Charles assured him that one of his friends would drive him and that he would be at the party for only a couple of hours.

That was the last time he saw his son alive.

Charles and several friends had been standing on the front porch of the house where the party was being held when someone in a white sports car leaned out the window and fired several bullets at the house before speeding off. One bullet struck Charles, killing him instantly.

James Hardy was devastated. He had lived his life for his son. How could it have happened? Why did he tell his son that he could go to the party?

Hardy asked himself the questions over and over again. They haunted him, whenever he went to his house, whenever he looked at his son's track shoes, whenever he pulled out his photo albums.

The two had been close and had been big fans of the Cubs and the Bulls. Now, whenever he even looked at the Cubs' Wrigley Field a sadness fell over him.

He began having nightmares.

Finally, it became too much for Hardy.

He left Chicago and moved to St. Louis. After finding a job here last year, Hardy set out to make a new life for himself. Leaving behind things that brought such sadness to him, he thought, was the best thing for him.

St. Louis was a smaller city. It had many of the amenities of Chicago, he thought, without the problems.

He began developing a social life and got active in a church. He was on his way to becoming a full person again.

But it didn't last.

The memories are back.

This time, though, they weren't triggered by Wrigley Field or Michael Jordan or the dog-eared photo albums full of pictures of his wife and son. …

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