I met Margie Lampel when she lived in an apartment down the hall from us. I opened the door one morning and found her sitting on the floor reading our morning Cincinnati Enquirer. Prior to that I only knew her by sight as the attractive girl with long, beautiful dark hair who owned the sweet mixed-breed dog, Bodie. That was fifty years ago. Margie became my best friend, Godmother to my son, my shoulder to cry on, and a person who made me laugh. I have moved many times over the last half-century, but always stayed in touch with her. She recently read my blog, A Grandson’s Book Review, and emailed:
“Love your Ezra story. I take it Ardent Spirit is available through Amazon? Will check as soon as I am through here.”
I immediately emailed back that she didn’t need to go to Amazon. A copy was already in the mail to her.
I got a one-word reply: “Yippee!!!”
The next day I got a phone call and heard Margie’s exuberant, breathless voice. I was sure she was going to tell me she’d won the Mega Millions with the first ticket she had ever purchased. But, no. Something more exciting: My book had arrived. She raved about the velveteen-looking hard cover.
“It’s so beautiful, I think I’ll put it on a display easel and just look at it.”
I thought maybe that was a good idea. I’d never have to hear if she hated it. I replied, “I won’t hold you to reading the book, but I did not want you to buy a copy.” Then I shamelessly boasted, “The Sanilac County News, my hometown newspaper ran an article about the book two weeks ago. The paper has a limited readership, but the article made my mom happy. A bookstore on Mackinac Island called and wanted me to do a book signing, but given that we live in California, that wasn’t reasonable.”
I finished bragging—and who can you brag to if not your closest friends—I continued. “There is one page in the book that should make you smile. It makes me laugh every time I see it. In the glossary there is a picture of a tikinagan, (p. 369). I got the photo from the internet, but it had the face of a Native American baby. It seemed wrong—if not illegal—to publish a picture of someone else’s baby, so Bob photo shopped the picture. That is Ezra’s face.”
Margie sent back: “I don’t know which part to respond to first. Ran upstairs to gingerly open my “velveteen” book to page 369. Smiled from ear to ear. How precious is this? AND my dear friend, Julie, the infamous writer passed up a book signing….where she and her just-released new novel, Ardent Spirit, would be introduced to the masses. Okay, I get it. The distance is prohibitive. I’m just so doggone proud of my dear friend. And moi? I didn’t do squat and I’m in two books. Not bad for someone who can’t punctuate a sentence correctly. I can add numbers pretty good! Gotta love that husband of yours. What a gem he is!!”
I chuckled at the part about infamous. I’d much rather be infamous than famous. As for being in two books, I thanked Margie in the acknowledgements to both PILZ and Ardent Spirit. Along the way, she and many friends read a page, or a scene and gave me their input. And everyone who knows him agrees that sweet husband of mine is a gem.
The emails from Margie gave me a few quiet, gentle smiles. Sometimes that’s all you need to get through a day.