It was Mark Foley's first public appearance since he... I guess that he...  I'm not sure exactly what he did, but I do know that it was nasty, and he sure looked guilty as hell, and he did take the mandatory perp walk straight to the rehab center. So there.

It was his 85 year old father's funeral. And while we fully expect the local press to reflect upon their former congressman's return, we didn't expect the sort of Cinéma vérité provided by Andrew Marra and Brian Crowley of the Palm Beach Post.

As his father's coffin went into the ground, Mark Foley began a eulogy, his first public words since his career's ignoble end. It started in the voice of a politician but quickly unraveled into sobs.

"I'm sorry for having disappointed you," he said to his father, tears pouring.

Oh, man, me me me, it's always about me... 'I'm sorry I've disappointed you, papa. Poor me, I feel guilty'

You know, if I'm 85 and I'm dead, and somehow I'm surveying the situation, I'm thinking that I might have deeper thoughts than the proclivities of my (always disappointing) son

But on the street outside the church stood a battery of television cameras. And down the center aisle with the grieving family came the former congressman in the eye of a national furor, a grimaced, wet-eyed smile on his face, congressional cufflinks dangling from the sleeves of his shirt.

A grimaced, wet-eyed smile? A grimaced, wet-eyed smile? I'm... unable to picture it, although I can see those dangling congressional cuff links clear as day.

The funeral mass was for the 85-year-old father, who died Tuesday after a long sickness from cancer. Yet so many of the eyes were on the son.

Well, no wonder.

The family arrived with the funeral procession. Mark Foley walked among them to the front of the church, a polite, teary grin on his face, his hands reaching for the shoulders of friends in the pews.

The grimaced, wet-eyed smile has now become a 'teary grin', a phrase that brings to mind the face of a newly crowned Miss Americas.

It was on the procession out that emotion first got the better of him, (first got the best of him?) as he and the family followed the coffin down the aisle and toward the waiting motorcade. Foley stopped for every familiar face, touching and hugging, kissing women's cheeks, crying through his smile.

Oh my.

Outside, by the black limo motoring in neutral, the mourners gathered to greet him. He couldn't stop crying, yet he couldn't restrain his thankful grins.

He hugged them with huge swipes of his arms, crying harder and harder. Some he embraced two at a time. He said their names, thanked them through his sobs.

Thank you for the report, Andrew and Brian. I don't know why it took two of you, but together you are golden.


©2006, Mark Hoback