Sometimes a person comes in to our lives for some reason or another. Jobyna Ralston tends to be that person for me. Whether it’s me talking to her son on the phone or just looking at simple photographs of her, makes me feel like I’m getting closer to her. Now, Jobyna has been dead for over several years, 50 to be exact, and it seems that she has made a name for herself over the years. Her life began in 1899 and ended in 1967. She has one son that is 83 years old today. Jobyna is a name that is not heard anymore. I feel that it is my duty as a film historian to remind people that yeah, she existed.
Now, I know that her son is with her, it breaks my heart. I know that they’re happy together and that they’re not in pain anymore from being apart.
I’m sure that they’re eating ice cream together and happy in heaven.
Jobyna Ralston had led me to him, and I know it took her some time. But in 2015, she thought to herself, this is the time – yeah, that sounds nuts, right? But I felt like she was saying to me, “just call him” and thank goodness I did. Jobyna Ralston was also the reason why I wanted to be in film studies. I wanted to give her everything. When I made the first move in 2015, I wanted to make sure Jobyna was in on it too. I called him on the anniversary of her death, which marked 48 years at that point.
When I talked about her to her son, I tried to keep it to a minimum, because it could have been so painful for him to recall his mother, who he loved so dearly.
It was hard to lose him too, because he was my last link to her, but I felt more of a connection with him too. I became friends with him and he spoke of me often, which I had no idea he did, because little does he know, I spoke of him and his mother daily. I talked about them today, because it has only been 24 hours since I learned the news of her son’s death. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to get the news of his mother’s death. One thing I didn’t ask him was the blessing of making a documentary or writing a book on Jobyna. I was too shy and too scared to ask, and now, I’m wishing I had. But, I could always ask both of them together now, or their extended family. I first heard of Jobyna when I was younger and then, she re-appeared in my life. I felt that her son was a dear friend and now that he’s gone, it’s hard on me to not call him.
With Jobyna’s death in 1967, I was not around them then, but I can imagine how difficult it could be to loose someone like Jobyna. Jobyna Ralston and her son are now together and that brings me peace. There was so much I wanted to ask about Jobyna, but again, my mind didn’t want to burst any lines or boundaries with her son. I didn’t know what was sensitive or not. There’s so much that I wanted to ask, and now I don’t have the answers to it. But I was lucky enough for three years to know her son and to know her too.