My Favorite Things 011

Frank’s Favorite Tie

A couple of weeks ago, my nephew Frank was in town for Juliana’s wedding party, and he brought along some pure gold … a collection of [his dad] Frank’s old ties. Ties to Frank were his statement that he was ready to work. To this day, I always wear a tie when I go to work [which for the past 10 years has been at my home office]. When you are Zooming with me, you know I’m working – and it’s the tie that gives it away.

Frank Gaglione has been gone for ten years now, and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of him. Frank and I were more than friends, we were brothers, but most importantly, we shared a full exposure to everything we were. There were no secrets. We were privy to each other’s hopes, ambitions, fears, and, candidly, our numerous flaws and transgressions.

Way to go, Tony.” How many times did I hear that as I messed up in one way or another over the 50 years that he watched over me? The most memorable was as I was spinning out on the Thruway on a bed of ice, and as we were getting ready to crash into the side rail, all I heard was, “Way to go, Tony.”

There have been countless people who have been instrumental in all that I have done and been. I’d like to say that they all get to now confidently share in knowing it was a job well done, but I don’t think I would get universal agreement on that point. Nevertheless, I am beholden to everyone, especially Frank.

But back to the ties …

Every Christmas, Frank and I would gift each other two ties. It was a great tradition that started when I was 13 as a Freshman at Canisius High School [where we had to wear a tie every day]. To say that I looked forward to ‘Frank’s Christmas ties’ would not do it justice. Every year, without fail, Frank delivered my favorite ties [that I would repeatedly wear for the rest of the school year]. And shopping for the two ties that I would gift him became a treasure hunt every December.

In the early eighties, as Frank and my sister were breaking up, Christmas rolled around, and with the usual anticipation, I unwrapped Frank’s slim Christmas-wrapped package only to find two of the most depressing ties I’ve ever seen. To which he said, “A little too dark?” And that was life with Frank … there was never a moment, no matter how dark, that we couldn’t still find some humor.

Today, we live in a world with the usual chaos. Trust me, it’s no worse or better than what nearly every generation has had to experience. My grandparents went through a world war, followed by the Great Depression, and then another world war that featured a little nuclear bombardment to finish things off. But what that generation had was perseverance buttressed by a joy for life. There was less complaining and more doing. And this morning, I have put on Frank’s favorite tie, and I am doing more [just as the Jesuits demanded of me]. It may not be the answer for everyone or to everything, but it’s a start.

And, hopefully, somewhere along the way today, I will have a good laugh. And sometimes, the best laugh is when you get to laugh at yourself.

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