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El Jefe

One of my greatest pleasures, in twelve years of reading you, was your review of Dick van Dyke's memoir. And one of the best parts of that was explaining not just "that", but rather "how", MTM was the love of van Dyke's long life. And not by pining for bad timing and opportunities missed, not juggling the schedules and locations of working Hollywood careers to carry on an affair Hepburn-Tracy style that was ultimately as taxing as it was rewarding. No, simply that he loved her that much, that broadly, that truly, with such honesty of heart and constancy, all his years. To live that feeling for another human being all your life is a remarkable thing in itself, to carry it well through a life of ups and downs in which the other person is never at any point your spouse, balancing the real here-and-now with what your heart owns to, is extraordinary. And what's best of all van Dyke seems always to have known how lucky he was even to have the chance to have her in his life at all, because Mary truly was that special. The mid-Teens continue to scythe their sickening swathe through the best of us; at least we can say Mary truly had a life well-lived, hard as it was medically for her the last few years, a life to the full that was not incomplete. And for all the MTM Show tributes out there (Bubbles has gotten a lot of intertubes air time for good reason, although I still think the Thanksgiving episode of WKRP does it one better for TV comedy) thank you for reaching back to the heart of things, to the classic. The Dick van Dyke show was one of the Sixties afternoon reruns of my Seventies childhood that helped raise me (and frankly shape my tastes: after spending time with the golden age of both Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers in the morning, the rest of any TV viewing in the day was spent as part of a time already ten to fifteen years past, from Rob Petrie to Colonel Hogan to Maxwell Smart to Jim West and Artemus Gordon. Even Spider-Man with the good theme song and Captain America throwing his mighty shield.) This was a little bit of home and at home Mary was always with us. She is still.

El Jefe

In memory and celebration, it's a different "Laura" but Johnny Mercer's haunting lyrics still apply:

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