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To Richie Smolev: In Loving Memory

Offerings: A Novel by Richard Smolev (Oct 15, 2012)

Dear Richie,

I made my ALS ice bucket donation in your memory. I wish you were here so we could talk.

In 2013, after our mutual friend told me about your two published novels and illness, and I called you, I was touched by your delight in hearing from me and the ease with which we spoke.

I felt awful you worked for so long so close to where I live in New York and now that you were sick, this was not only our first conversation since I lived on North Drive and you on Starin Avenue, but I had wanted to share something for a really long time.

Thank goodness, I got to tell you that I used the line you came up with in second grade and I was in third for a Mother’s Day card but never used: DEAR MOM: WE LOVE YOU ON MOTHER’S DAY AND HATE YOU ON EVERY OTHER’S DAY in a New York Times Sunday Magazine “Lives” essay about my mother. It pleased you that I remembered and used it. Our conversation flowed. How revealing you were! Were you always so relatable and open? I mean—really Richie—so many people aren’t.

As a child, I thought your mother and family were perfect, but then it always looks different from the outside. From another house down the block. Perfect families. Perfect mothers. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

I loved hearing about your writing and publishing. I loved telling you what I have done. When we talked about continuing the conversation over dinner with our spouses in Bucks Country near your house, you suggested I call you early one morning when you had the energy to arrange it. When we hung up, I emailed you my Times piece with your line. You emailed me right back. What fun to then stay in touch by email with literary gossip and news.

Then…I read your essay, “Life Seems Inconceivably Rich” (Poets & Writers, Jan-Feb 2014), and immediately emailed you my praise. You wrote back that my taking the time to let you know moved you. How could I not? It’s such a moving piece. At this moment, it is open to the last page and to the photo of you holding your grandson—born a few months after mine—and I am reading again your last few paragraphs about the preciousness of our little ones. Talk about resonance. Man, you sure could write.

Your friend, Scott Turow, said you were also a great lawyer. I don’t doubt it. You were incredibly smart.

And incredibly cute. I never got to tell you that you were my first crush. When you shared the Mother’s Day line at age 7 on our way home from school, you found your way into my heart.

You’re still there. I’m sorry we never had that double date dinner. Or a friendship between the early grades and your death. Your words, talent, spirit, smarts, and sense of humor continue to enrich me, make me smile. Laugh. On Mother’s Day and every other’s day, I thank you for your gifts.

In Praise of Angels: A Novel of the Reconstruction Era by Richard Smolev (Jul 30, 2013)


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