Some of you might recall my letter to Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) after my father-in-law’s death. In that letter, I described the process of my assisting Jay in casting a Republican ballot in favor of Mr. Roberts and others, a day before Jay slipped into the last mortal sleep, less than forty-eight hours before he died. As I promised Jay, my favorite curmudgeon, I charged Mr. Roberts with being a faithful steward for the citizens of his state and this nation.
Mr. Roberts called my office just days after his re-election and, reaching my voice mail, left a message of which I’ve spoken here. It brought tears to my eyes; and reminded me that regardless of our differences, we walk the same earth and have compassion for the same endearing concerns. Mr. Roberts and I have traded messages over the last month, but yesterday, in the middle of my Verizon Wireless odyssey, he called my cell phone and I terminated a long hold span to speak with him.
Him, mind you. Not an aide saying, “Hold for Senator Roberts”. I said, “Hello,” and he said, “Ms. Corley, this is Pat Roberts,” and a conversation ensued. He said my letter moved him more than any he had received in many a year. He told me he keeps it on his desk to remind him that there is a Democrat in Missouri watching over him on behalf of her father-in-law, a life-long Republican who has gone to his heavenly reward. He told me that he hoped he would not disappoint either me or Jay, and he vowed that if I ever needed anything, anything at all within his power — or if any of Jay’s family did — I should call. I, in turn, thanked him for taking the time and effort to continue to reach out to me. I told him that he could count on one friend in Missouri at least, being myself, a Democrat but nonetheless, someone whom I hoped he would consider a friend. He vouchsafed to do so. We parted with Christmas greetings, and he wished me, too, God’s blessings.
Today, I am grateful for minds left open — both mine and that of Senator Roberts. With no press, no fanfare, no intervening assistants, no sound bite, no photo op, Mr. Roberts made every effort to reach me and thank me for my words to him, and to tell me how much they moved him. I cannot say that I will ever agree with how Mr. Roberts votes in Congress, and I might well criticize the actions of the Republican-controlled Congress. But Senator Pat Roberts has earned a fair measure of my respect. For whatever it is worth, I would consider him a friend, and lift my hand to help him if I could.