By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Tom Menino’s doctors say the mayor of Boston will be staying in the hospital indefinitely for treatment of back pain, and the news is making me wince just thinking about it.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Because if you know anything about Menino, you know that the pain must be pretty unbearable to keep him down this way.

It’s been a rough couple of years for Boston’s incredibly popular mayor for life, as he’s dealt with a series of ailments while maintaining a schedule that would bring younger, healthier men to tears.

I am not exactly Harry Agganis, but I am a good 13 years younger than Menino. And a few years back when I was assigned to spend the day with the mayor for a magazine article, I thought it would be a piece of cake.

When I picked up his schedule at 9 a.m., Menino had already been up since 4:30.

By the time I peeled off at 7:30 that night, exhausted from a day of meetings and crisscrossing the city to attend an amazing array of public events, Menino still had a couple of hours to go before cashing it in.

When I told him I had had it, he rolled his eyes and laughed at me.

There’s a reason why half of Boston’s residents say they’ve met the mayor personally, why even more feel they know him personally, why he has been re-elected four times by margins that put most incumbents to shame.

The man is a force of nature, totally committed to the city and its people, living the way normal Bostonians do, a car with a driver his only concession to status.

His interactions with people are not the “hi, how are ya, get out of the way so I can check myself in the mirror” style of many big-name pols. He is intensely involved in his job, and does it through one intense conversation after another.

Like the rest of us, Menino is far from perfect. But for the past two decades he has embodied what full-service governance should look like in a way no one can match.

That’s why Boston has felt like a ghost town the past three weeks. We’re haunted by the absence of the man who makes the city go.

So if you’re reading this, Mr. Mayor, cut it out and get better, fast.

You’re starting to scare us, and Halloween was over two weeks ago.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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