Sonia Pressman Fuentes March 18, 2012
     Michael was my friend

Dear Arnold:

When I received your Tribute issue of the Megillah, I first read your moving tribute to Michael. Then I read the moving tributes from three of your regular column writers--and my first thought was: Who are these people? Michael was my friend.

And then I realized that since Michael was dear to me and I am a writer, it's time I wrote something about Michael.

My relationship with Michael began several years ago with a tirade on my part. Someone had told me about the Gantseh Megillah and when I went to the website, what did I see but an article by Phyllis Schlafly, an arch-enemy of feminists, such as I, and a former member of the John Birch Society. I was aghast and sent off an angry email to Michael blasting him for publishing Schlafly.

He saw this as an invitation to a loving friendship, which he then embarked upon. He told me he didn't know that much about Schlafly, that the article he published dealt with a subject unrelated to women's rights, and vowed never to publish her again. (He never did.)

That was the beginning of my close friendship with Michael and you. I cannot, of course, write about Michael without writing about you, Arnold. I have always referred to you as a saint and I see no reason to stop now. Because of Michael's physical disabilities, it fell on you to do all the work of running your household: you did the grocery shopping, cooking, driving the car, taking care of your two dogs, and worked hand-in-glove with Michael on publishing the monthly and weekly Megillahs. I remember the beautiful artwork you did for some of the Megillahs. With regard to your work on the Megillah, Arnold, I think you forgot that you are not Jewish. I never heard you voice a complaint about all this. Instead, you considered yourself lucky to be sharing your life with Michael. I've known many people in my life, Arnold, but have never known anyone like you and don't believe there is another person like you on this planet.

I had the privilege of being with you and Michael twice: first, when you visited me at my townhouse in Potomac, MD, and, second, when I came to Montreal for your wedding. As I mentioned, I still have and treasure the cup from your wedding with the picture of the two of you. When I came to Montreal, I visited you in your current apartment and remember watching the two of you seated on your couch, in front of your computers, being together happily side-by- side.

Michael published a number of my articles in the Megillah; one that I recall is "A Love Letter to Ostuni," about my experience teaching school in Italy. He also reviewed my memoir, Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter.

In 2005, I had to travel from my townhouse in Potomac, MD, to Cleveland, OH, for surgery--and the recuperation turned out to be longer than anticipated, eleven days instead of just a few. Michael called me every single day to see how I was doing. Only my brother called me as often. So, when Michael was in the Montreal Jewish Hospital this past year, I was able to return the favor and called him just about every day. During this time, I developed a pattern of sharing information with Susan Smolenski, who, with her husband and family, also met Michael through the Megillah and became a dear friend of his. Whenever I spoke to Michael or you about Michael's condition, I'd email or telephone Susan about it and she did the same with me. Sadly, I was the one to telephone and speak to her husband, Tony, when you told me we had lost Michael.

There are a great many people who come into one's life during a lifetime--but only a handful truly love and care about us. Michael was one who loved me, and I him. His loss is devastating and his presence in my life is irreplaceable. I am so glad, however, that I can continue my loving friendship with you.


Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Speaker, Author, "Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give
You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter"

Editor-> Thank you Sonia, Michael cherished his friends
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