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JACK SMITH

Even Those Who Never Knew Him Feel the Loss

November 07, 1994|JACK SMITH

Many readers have written to express their sorrow over the death of my Baja friend and landlord, Romulo Gomez. Though most of them knew him only through my columns about building our house in Baja, they thought of him as a friend.

"I was very sorry to read that Mr. Gomez has passed away," writes Dorothy Bolton of Huntington Beach. "I have enjoyed your adventures with him over the years. . . . Wouldn't it be wonderful if more of us had Mr. Gomez's attitude toward life?"

Most said they had enjoyed my book about that adventure, "God and Mr. Gomez," and wondered if they could get another copy. (I'm sorry--I have only a handful left. Maybe I can get some publisher to print a new edition.)

"This time," writes Ronnie McGee of Hemet, "God may have gotten more than He bargained for as I'm sure Mr. Gomez will organize Him."

From Michele Yepiz of Lemon Grove: "If there is a God, he is fortunate He has met Mr. Gomez. You and your Baja neighbors were lucky people to know this good-natured man."

"How touched your longtime readers must feel, having read your column today," writes Whit Brayton Jr. of Hemet. However, he notes that in saying I had used God's name in the title of my book I erred. "God's title is God," he says. "His name is Jehovah."

Oh, darn.

Eve Langstaff of Hemet writes, "What a bummer it was to read your column about the demise of Mr. Gomez. Shall we hope he's aiding and abetting St. Peter in his work, perhaps an addition to the heavenly estates?"

(If so, I hope St. Peter is a patient saint.)

"I have loved you and Mr. Gomez for many years," writes Kay Diebel of Newport Beach. 'I am sorry to read of his death. . . . Thinking of him, and the book, still brings back smiles of pleasure."

Several readers write of driving down to Baja to find our house, and others of meeting Mr. Gomez himself.

"You have enriched our lives in many ways," write Hugh and Anne Salisbury of Midway City. "But the association with Mr. Gomez's family and the building of your Baja home--such pleasure we had watching that part of your life unfold."

"My heart goes out to him and his family," writes Beverly Spiker of Los Angeles. "I did not know Mr. Gomez but I felt like I did through you. I'm sure he is with God now and doing only good things up there."

I feel obliged to print in full a letter, addressed to me and my wife, from my friend and mentor, Rabbi Alfred Wolf:

"Miriam and I wish to extend our heartfelt sympathy to both of you on the passing of your friend, Mr. Gomez. Thanks to you, he was our friend, too.

"Your column this morning, dear Jack, brought back a whole treasure of cherished memories. You gave us quite a treat by letting us share your trips to Baja. Yes, we've also been to Baja, Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas . . . by ship. We didn't really experience the place except through your writing, Jack. How else could we match your rocky rides over rutted roads, the risky hikes to your cabin, the fascinating negotiations with Mr. Gomez, the quiet seclusion of your retreat.

"Now all that wonderful material is locked up exclusively in your memory. Please don't wait for another chance event to unlock your treasure chest. Every once-in-a-Monday, open it up and share."

"I raise a glass to Mr. Gomez and to you," writes Mildred M. Bridgeford of Hemet. "The patience you exhibited, the gentle spirit of Mr. Gomez and the development of a strong and understanding friendship brought much pleasure."

"I reread my copy of 'God and Mr. Gomez' this afternoon," writes Alice Stearns of Woodland Hills. "Laughed a lot, and cried too. Certainly a tequila to a very wise and kind soul . . . and I'm sure it will ever be . . . God and Mr. Gomez."

In my column on Mr. Gomez's death, I said that some readers had mistakenly thought he was something of a con man. Not true. He was honorable to the last. It was only that sometimes his vision of propriety was different from mine.

For example, when I decided to sell the house (because the road was getting too long), Mr. Gomez was my agent. After all, he was the real owner of the house.

I gave him a figure that I hoped to get for it. Later, in talking to the buyers, I found that he had charged them somewhat more.

When I remonstrated with him about this he said, "Well, Jack, I had to make a commission ."

Can't argue with that, Mr. Gomez.

*Jack Smith's column is published Mondays.

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