Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dear Angelo...

Dear Angelo/Ruben,

I’ll admit it, the first time I met you, I wasn't sure what to think. I was trying to get the signatures of all the Cavemen for my friend, The Sherry, who couldn’t make it to that very first Romanticon because she got sick. I asked if you would hold her autograph book so I could take your picture with it, and sign the book for her. Your response was to shove your sweaty chest (you had just done a dance) in my face, though you did immediately back off at my surprise.

See, I had no idea there was a language barrier, magnified by loud music. That you were just doing what you thought I wanted you to do. In your experience, that was the norm. In mine, you had stepped into husband-only and “You thought I wanted what? I’m old enough to be your mother!” territory.

Still, I was thrilled to report to Ashlyn Chase that I had met the exact physical version of our hero, Paolo, and wouldn’t it be awesome to get you on the cover of Strokes? We did, and it’s one of our all-time favorites.


The second Romanticon was when I truly got to meet you. The real you. In one year, through sheer hard work, you had mastered the English language - with a few snafus that we will all treasure forever. That alone was an amazing feat. Your personality was bigger than life. By the end of that week, there wasn’t a single person there who didn’t adore you.

Year three, you won the first ever Caveman of the Year award. Alex gave you a good amount of friendly, healthy competition, but you were The Man! In true form, you were just as proud of Alex as you were of winning.

By then, we had talked a bit about things outside of EC. My teenagers are in a band, and one of them has a passion for the same music you loved. The other eats, breathes, sleeps baseball. I had told them all about you, about how hard you worked - not to make lemonade with the proverbial lemon, but an exotic drink everyone wanted that somehow made life better. They never got the opportunity to meet you, but they looked up to you all the same, and rightfully so. In reading all of the things people have posted about you, one thing is consistent in every single thread: you were truly beautiful both inside and out.

When I found out that you weren’t going to attend this year’s Romanticon, it just didn’t seem right. Then I watched the videos you posted of your new venture, the Total Explosion Gym. The joy on your face said it all. You had arrived. We all posted your links with pride.

I wish you’d had more time on earth to spend with your family, your friends, but especially your son. It’s our turn now to give back to someone who was completely selfless in his quest to help others.

You will be greatly missed.


There is a fund that was set up to help Ruben’s family with burial costs. My hope is that it will take care of that need and go on to become a scholarship fund for his son.


Amber Skyze said...

Geez, I didn't think it was possible to shed any more tears. He was beautiful inside and out. His poor family and friends.

Dalton Diaz said...

I can't even imagine what they're going through.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I remember your excitement when you came home from that Romanticon and you said, "I met him! I met Paolo!"

I didn't dare hope our wish would come true, but I feel so blessed to have him on our cover, representing our Italian painter.

Angelo later signed that cover for me. Over and over. I had him sign ALL the cover flats, knowing our fans would probably prefer his signature to mine! As you said, after his second Romatnicon, everyone loved him. Including both of us. Somewhere there's a picture of us on either side of Angelo with his arms around us. He was indeed an angel on earth. Now he's an actual angel. We'll miss him.

Mai said...

Wonderful words Dalton, thank you. I also regret not meeting him, because everyone has spoken such beautiful words about him. RIP Angelo you will be truly missed.

Naima Simone said...

This is such a beautiful post, Dalton. I never had the opportunity to meet Angelo in person, but I "knew" him before becoming familiar with many of EC's authors because of his covers. Even before his death, everyone always spoke of his smile and kindness. So though I didn't have the chance to meet him, he's still missed. It's a tragedy that a beautiful life full of hopes and dreams about to be realized was cut short. My prayers are with his family, especially his son.

Victoria Adams said...

This was absolutely beautifully written. Wonderful words. So sad that you had to write them.

Casey Crow said...

Another wonderful tribute.