I remember more and more about Frank every day. And while I still haven’t made peace with his death, I am comforted by the smile that inevitably passes over everyone’s face when I mention him. Is there any better legacy?
He gave me a signet ring when he got married back in the mid 60’s. I was about 12 years old, and, although I treasured it, time and indifference conspired against it. Today, I slipped on my new signet ring with FGT on it. Frank Thomas Gaglione.
I even started wearing penny loafers again, because for the first 8 years I knew him [until he became a lawyer with a real job] that’s all he wore. Bertha wouldn’t let him wear sneakers, and he could wear out a new pair of Weejun penny loafers during a good stretch of basketball on my driveway. Campus Corner khakis, Weejun penny loafers, and a Barracuda jacket were all I wanted. To me he was nothing more and nothing less than the coolest guy on the planet.
And then along came the Beatles in their Chelsea boots. Being a little hood from the West Side – they just felt better – and I’ve been wearing them for almost 50 years. But today, for Frank, I’m back in my penny loafers. [Although, I have to admit that I’m just waiting for the Chelsea boots to go back out of style. Every 20 years or so they start to be fashionable again like skinny pants. So, for the time being, I’m just applying the mink oil and waiting for it to pass. It will.]
But this post isn’t about signet rings or my choice in shoes, it’s about our legacy. What will it be?
I remember when I was 38, and I retired from the Stereo Advantage. My claim was that I didn’t want to still be singing Brown Sugar when I was 60. That’s why I always feel bad for the Rolling Stones – I couldn’t imagine singing the same crap for 50 years. What will their legacy be: The greatest rock’n’roll band in history or some pathetic money-grubbing entertainers who didn’t know when to hang’em up? They’re going to just milk that cow dry.
I couldn’t imagine my legacy being that I sold a million vcr’s. It just didn’t seem like a life well-lived. Money, what an awful legacy. Power, unfortunately, you lose it all when you’re dead. Love, well, it certainly may not be the best legacy, but it makes every day that you’re alive better. Friendship, joy, humor, caring, security, loyalty, opportunity ….
I’ve courted all of the above, but, if I had to choose one [and I have], it would be opportunity. If, at the end of it all, my legacy is that I created opportunity for my family, friends, partners, employees, and community, then I lived a life that I am proud of. It’s the road I chose, and I’m making progress.
Frank chose another road. He kept us safe and he made us smile. But, most of all, he made us smile. That is his legacy. Sometimes I wonder when I see the smile on everyone’s face when I tell a Frank story. The laughter, the fondness, the inevitable “There was no one quite like him” comment. It makes me a little wistful. It makes me question my path. But we all walk a different path.