I try not to indulge much of the personal in my Sun column, which turns 43 on January 8. Mostly, over these many years, I’ve written off the news — issues and policies, crime and punishment, the environment, government, social trends and the big problems facing Baltimore and the country. I guess that covers it. Now and then, and too often after they’ve departed, I’ll tell you about someone I knew and how they made a difference in this life. The Baltimore Sun also allowed me space to eulogize my father and my mother, known to many as the former Rose Popolo, and one of my best friends. Today, I’ve been given space to tell you about “my other mother,” Gioconda Mannetta, the woman in this old photograph from 1981 or maybe 1982, taken atop a snow-covered hill in Baltimore County. One this last day of 2021, I feel more than ever a lucky guy, and she’s part of the reason.

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