My Friend Frank B., and Ted Kennedy

Written By Gary Spirer Published October 7th, 2009

Furtively, early in the morning, I typed in Google his name, Frank B.  It had been years since I had even thought of him.  Maybe decades that I wondered where he was and what he’s doing. 

What prompted me, I questioned.  I knew right away; I had started reading Ted Kennedy’s memoirs.  Kennedy reminisces about his early days in Hyannis Port, MA.  The youngest of nine children, he relates how he looked up to his older brothers, Joe Jr. and Jack.

This was a family of spirited competition, constantly waging in games of intellect and physical prowess.  Dinners were full of lively debates with dad Joe monitoring and prompting lively exchanges.

That was Frank.  He had the Kennedy looks.  His dad, a pediatrician, was well educated.  Like Joe Kennedy, he welcomed lively debates among his children.  In the large house there was always classical music or Broadway show tunes playing.  There were games of wit, trivia contests, and the Kennedy-like tag football and basketball games played at the next-door neighbors house.

For me, Frank’s house was a cultural oasis.  It was an escape from the incessant TV that kept our house from being a silent intellectual desert.  There were no intellectual exchanges, no games, no stream of visiting friends, no sense of a real family.

Away from Frank’s house, it was swinging a bat and dreaming of being a professional baseball player.  Intellectual debates threatened my Dad.  It mirrored his lack of a college education.  To my Dad,  being intellectual and reading books was a waste of time.  It did not put food on the table and money in your pocket.  Being of the Depression Era, my Dad always saw poverty lurking around the corner.  He remembered putting cardboard in his shoes to cover up the holes in the soles.

Until my junior year in high school, I only read books on baseball and Indians, other than what was assigned in class.  Going over to Frank’s house became almost a daily routine.  Soon, like Frank, I was writing poetry and some short stories.

Frank was number two in my high school.  He had a way with words.  His grandfather completed the Sunday N.Y. Times crossword puzzle in pen.

When I looked up Frank, I saw that he had turned to Buddhism and psychoanalysis.  He was a professor who received some glowing ratings from a few students.  The last entry related how Frank had suffered a slight cerebral hemorrhage and some paralysis down the side of his body.

A friend had sent out a letter that Frank was out of ICU and had left the hospital soon after to recuperate.  Frank was in good spirits and acknowledged he was endeavoring to follow his belief in impermanence. 

Maybe it was a coincedence that Ted Kennedy and Frank both suffered from conditions related to the brain.  Both men were brilliant.

What I learned from Ted Kennedy and Frank was the importance of family and the value of being challenged and challenging others to use their minds.

I was lucky to be welcomed into Frank’s world; I was given a glimpse into a world I did not know.  It was those moments, those games and those exchanges that opened my mind to the endless possibilites of life. 

In these brutal times you may be wondering how to make ends meet and how to rebuild your finances and wealth. 

It may be some solace to acknowledge that life is impermanent, including our finances.  The real riches reside in our minds – exploring and exchanging ideas. 

By using and enriching your mind, you have inherent freedom and wealth.  The mind is “a beautiful thing.”

Life is full of these glimpses of possibilities that you can make a reality.

Like Ted Kennedy and Frank B.,’s vision is to be an oasis of insights, debates, challenges and exchanges.  Steps To is the family away from your family.

P.S. Yes, Dad, I am working hard, but if you only knew there was and is so much more.

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