Going thru Mom’s things we found this note from J. Frank Raley thanking her for remembering his 65th birthday. (J. Frank and my Mom were first cousins but with Mom being an only child, for all intents and purposes J. Frank, his brother Bill and sister Peaches were more like the two brothers and sister that she never had.)
Here is J. Frank’s thank you note to her:
The note from J. Frank brings up two points that came to my mind. First, it touches upon Mom’s habit of always remembering her family and friends’ birthdays and special occasions. Even in her later years she had a system set up whereby she would always remember folks’ birthdays and send them a card.
My Mom was from that school of social interaction where notes and cards were used to stay in touch with people close to you. She sent quite a few of these and obviously J. Frank was on her rolodex. We even found cases where Mom did a rough draft of what she wanted to say in her notes and cards just to show how much time and effort she put into these messages.
|J. Frank Posing With Old Campaign Sign (Note Buzzy in Lower Right Corner)|
The second thing that J. Frank’s note brought to my mind, involves his confiding that he was not as connected family-wise as was my Mom. That it took him turning 65 to realize this is a good thing. That it took my Mom sending him a birthday card to make him think about it was also a good thing.
You see for my Mom, her family was the most important thing to her followed closely by her friends who were also a priority to and for her. J. Frank on the other hand, chose to spend the bulk of his time being busy doing great things for the County and interacting with like minded folks.
Consequently then, thru the years, J. Frank was always a little, shall we say, cavalier about family and our special occasions and get togethers. (I know, I hear some of you wise asses saying who could blame J. Frank for not wanting to hang out with a family like ours?) But that’s kind of my point here – my Mom loved it and I mean absolutely loved and enjoyed it to no end when all of her family would get together (even when some of us were feuding with one another at the time.)
I remember once swinging by J. Frank’s home in St. Mary’s City on my way down the road to a family function and invited him to ride along with me. (I knew that Mom had also invited him and that it would have meant a lot to her had he attended.)
However, J. Frank begged off going with me citing that he had to work on a speech that he had been asked to make at some affair in Annapolis the following day. Not wanting to let him off the hook so easily I teased him “Come on J. Frank, you’re a politician, just get up there and bs your way thru it. You don’t need to work on any speech. Get in the car.” He laughed and said something along the lines that he wasn’t that politically skilled when it came to giving speeches and remarks at events and that he really did have to think about and write down what it was that he wanted to say before hand. While I let him slide that day, in retrospect I wish that I’d busted him some more and guilted him into going with me.
In 2012 I was a pallbearer at J. Frank’s funeral at St. Michael’s Church where Congressman Steny Hoyer gave the eulogy. As Steny reviewed J. Frank’s political career and all the things that he accomplished, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for J. Frank. While he was busy doing all those things, he missed out on so many other things which to me at least, were so much more important. I guess though, I am my Mom’s son and am glad that she helped shape my perspective that in life, it really is family and friends who are important. Everything else is secondary.
Speaking of turning 65, check this video out. Take special note of the drummer on the couch. He is the 93 year old father of the singer/pianist and as noted in the comments “still rockin’.”