Dear readers, you have probably noticed that I haven’t written anything new in the past few weeks, except for a scheduled post for #WorldKidLit Month on my work as a translator of children’s books. That’s because on September 19, I lost my husband of 38 years, Richard Lachmann, to a heart attack at the age of 65.
Richard regularly contributed to my blog, mostly restaurant reviews read and trusted by people visiting Portugal and cities around the world. He also wrote a piece on Covid-19 and the decline of U.S. power, as his 2020 book First Class Passengers on a Sinking Ship was one of many that came out just before or during the pandemic.
Richard and I met when we were both 19, in a sociology class at Princeton University. He was the best student in the class. I was in over my head. He tutored me, and I came to see that sociology wasn’t the easy A that I had been led to believe. As he approached the discipline, it was far more abstract and philosophical, while I gravitated to history because of its focus on individuals and their stories. It was through history — stories — that I became a novelist, but his focus on broader social forces deepened my own work.
Although we were married for 38 years, we were together for 45. We waited to tie the knot until he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and had a job offer in hand from the University of Wisconsin so as to receive the blessing of my very traditional family in Houston, Texas.
Richard’s intelligence initially attracted me to him, but over the years of our courtship, I came to see what a truly good person he was. He was devoted to his family. His own father, with whom he had a close relationship, died when he was 12, and as the eldest he took over many of the roles. He started doing his mother’s taxes when he was 13 and had just filed her 2020 return. His father traveled all over the world as a United Nations official — once in elementary school, a classmate teased him by saying his father was going to be eaten by a lion — so it was important for him to be around for his own children. He took an active role in raising Derrick and Maddy and set a good example for Derrick to become an involved father in the lives of his children.
People always said Richard and I had the perfect relationship. Sometimes when they say things like that, they don’t see the more complicated underside. In our case, however, they were right. He brought his intelligence, his kindness, his worldliness, his endless patience, his attention to detail. I brought — I don’t know — a sense of humor. Poetry. Whatever the case, he never seemed disappointed.
After seven years in Wisconsin, Richard took a position at the University of Albany, and we were able to move closer to his family and the city of his birth, which he always believed was the greatest city in the world. After our return from a semester in Portugal thanks to a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, we decided to make the move to New York City, at first part-time, then full-time. My essay, “A Midlife Crisis and a Big Move” was my Valentine’s Day gift to him in 2015, the year we moved for good.
Richard loved his life in New York, being close to his family. He loved his teaching and being a mentor to several generations of young scholars throughout the world. His classes and workshops took him not only to Portugal, where he continued to teach at ISCTE, the graduate institute of the University of Lisbon, but also to China, Russia, Abu Dhabi, and Kyrgyzstan. He loved his research and was working on three edited collections of scholarly articles as well as a long-term project on changing attitudes toward war casualties in the U.S., Russia, and Israel. I wish he had more time, and I wish we all had more time with him.
From time to time, I’ll share some of the work he was doing on this blog, because his ideas influenced many of my posts, and in some cases like the war casualties, we disagreed. When we met, we saw ourselves as opposites — a determined intellectual from New York City and a wide-eyed but somewhat aimless kid from Texas. Over the years we grew closer in temperament and interests. We were the couple who finished each other’s sentences. I became the person I am because of him, and my life from here on will be part of his legacy.
What a shock! So sorry!
Thank you, Patrice. It was very sudden. The one thing I can say is he didn’t suffer.
Dear Lyn such a shock. I wish you strengt, wisdom and tenderness.
Dearest Lyn, I am still in shock over Richard’s death! I can’t imagine that he isn’t here with you, Derrick and Maddy. Richard and your grandsons also won’t have him in their life any longer. That is so sad. Thank you for sharing so many details about you and Richard, and about all his accomplishments. I didn’t know all that you shared. My heart breaks that he isn’t on Earth with you, his precious family and with all of us, too. I send my love to you Lyn and to Derrick and Maddy and to so many more whose life he touched. Love, Kathryn
Thank you for your kind words, Kathryn. <3
Lyn, in the midst of your deep sorrow, you found a way to introduce Richard to all of us who never had the honor of knowing him.
Thank you, Beverly. That’s what I wanted to do in this piece, and it took me a while to get it right. Especially since Richard always read over my blog essays before I posted them.
Dear, dear Lyn,
I have a feeling that he read this blog essay as well, and totally approves.
Oh, Lyn, what a beautiful tribute to Richard. I’m in tears over here. Just weeping. We’ll miss him so much. I’m holding on to our memories of him, and I love that your life from here on will be part of his legacy. That’s beautiful. Sending love to you.
What a beautiful tribute to Richard. Thank you for sharing him and what he meant to you and the family so generously.
This is lovely and loving. The photographs are wonderful, to see — and be reminded of — happiness, joy, and a life well lived. My own life’s less for having not known Richard; yet better for having read your words. I’m so sorry, Lyn.
Oh, Lyn, I am so very sorry. Your blog demonstrates all that you loved about and shared with Richard. I know these good memories will ease your grief, even though your heart will ache. Thank you for sharing Richard’s story with all of us. Peace and love.
Lynn — I am so sorry for your loss. I feel for you deeply. I understand what it is like to build a life with another person starting in your formative young years, and can only imagine the hole in your heart. Thank you for writing a blog that gave me a glimpse into the special relationship that you and Richard had. Thinking of you as you navigate these stormy waters.
Lyn, what a beautiful tribute you have shared with us. It gives us a sense of the full and vibrant life that you and Richard created together. Thanks for sharing these stories. I’m wishing you comfort in this time of loss.
Oh Lyn. My heart breaks for you. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.
I wish he had more time too, my dear friend.
Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute with us, Lyn. Richard lives on in these poignant memories and the many lives he touches. Sending much love. xo
Lyn, what awful stunning saddening news. Deep condolences to you and your family.
Somehow I missed this and I am so very sorry! My condolences to you, your family, and Richard’s colleagues and friends.
This is a beautiful tribute to your husband, Lyn. He sounds like a fine person and I know that his spirit will still light the way for you.
Lyn what a beautiful tribute to Richard.
I am so sorry for your loss, Lyn. You are in my thoughts and prayers!
Wishing you, and your family, strength and peace at this time.
Richard was clearly a good soul who made this world a better place.
Gary Golio & Susanna Reich
What a shock to have Richard from this world and your life and the family. Beautiful Memoir of Richard. Thank you for let us grieve with you.
My 70 year friendship with Ruth made me feel very much part of the family.
With prayers, Lisa
Thank you for sharing so much of your story together. What an immense loss.
Lyn, your husband sounds so wonderful! This was a deeply moving read. How lucky he was to be so appreciated! I hope that his memory comforts you and gives you the inspiration to be strong in hard moments. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful partnership.
I’m so very sorry. This is a beautiful and moving tribute to a person as wonderful and kind as you. Much love, Tess
Oh, Lyn! My sincere condolences. What a lovely tribute to your dear love. So many incredible memories you have of this amazing human you traveled life with. Much love to you. Donna
I’m so very sorry, Lyn. This is a beautiful tribute to him.
Lyn, thank you for sharing and introducing Richard to all of us, so we can remember him now too. Sending you so much friendship and love.
I am so very sorry, Lyn. Your marriage to Richard sounded like it was a great blessing to you both. My thoughts are with you. 😢💐
Oh, Lynn—I’m so sorry to hear of your husband’s death. How shocking—especially for you, I’m sure. He was so young—you should have had many more years with him! I hope that your memories will be a comfort to you as you go through your life.
That is a lovely look into your history and life with Richard. Thank you for sharing it.
Lyn, your love shines through in this. Thank you so much for sharing Richard with us. Much love to you and yours.
This is such a beautiful tribute to your husband, Lyn. I am so very sorry for your loss. And yes, those we love do live on in many ways. I’m glad you’ll continue to share those thoughts/ways with us.
What a lovely, moving post. 45 years. 45 YEARS! And for him not to be around anymore to finish your sentences… Oh, Lyn, I’m heartbroken for you. I’m so glad you posted this piece to let the rest of us know what you’re going through. And it’s good to know that your family isn’t far away, but this is oh, so very sad. I look forward to learning more about Richard in future posts. Thinking of you fondly…
What a beautiful tribute to Richard. And how strong and loving of you to write it. Sending much love in the hope that his memory and the beautiful live you shared will be a blessing for you and your family.
Sending condolences on your loss. And thanks for sharing Richard — and your loving relationship with him — via this blog post. I’m sorry that I never got to meet him, glad for the happy lives you shared together, and sad that he’s passed away.
Lyn, this is such a beautiful post. It sounds like he was such a wonderful person. I am thinking of you and your family and sending my love.
Lyn, I am so sorry. I logged onto the Pen Zoom late today and had no idea. I was staggered by that lego city behind you, which I imagined you made. Reading your post made me wish I had known Richard. Your words about him are so moving. His kindness and intelligence are legible in the photo. Serban and I had such a lovely time with you during those few hours you showed us Lisbon. Our door is always open to you so please visit us. ❤️Orel
Lyn, what a wonderful man and what an extraordinary relationship you’ve shared with us. Such a loss turns the world around. Sending love to you.
Oh, Lynn, my heart is broken for you and your family. I’m just so sorry. Richard sounds like a man in a million and an incredible person to partner with for life. I am so glad you had him and so wish you had him still. You will be in my thoughts and prayers and I am sending so many concentrated, loving vibes of comfort your way. xoxo
Thank you for sharing these lovely words and memories, Lyn. My thoughts are with you as you and your family move through this difficult time.
I’m so sorry for your loss, Lyn. Thank you for sharing your love story.
Lyn – this is sad news, indeed. I hope you’re surrounded by people that love you and can comfort you. Sending a hug to you across the miles.
Oh Lyn, this is so beautiful. I’m sending all of you all my love.
What a lovelly declaration Lyn. I can testify what an extraordinary person he was and what a nice couple you were. I will never forget the way you received me at Albany and New York. And Fátima, Frederico and myself will never forget both of you. My other children and grand children heard a lot about you and will always remenber of grand phater’s American friends. Love you. Luís Capucha
Such a lovely tribute. As a close friend of Maddy’s since college, I am so privileged to have had the time and opportunity to know him and the special, interesting and considerate man Richard was. Above all, he loved his family so much and that was always apparent. My condolences to you and hope to see you soon ❤️
Thanks for sharing the beautiful memory. Sending hugs❤️❤️
It’s so beautifully written, Lyn. Sending you and your family love.
I was his grad student in Albany in early 1990s. His seminar inspired me to write my first solo article which was published in Social Forces. He was incredibly supportive and kind. Then and every time I saw him at conferences. We became FB friends more recently. I did not know Richard that well but I recognize him in your story. Thank you for sharing it. He was so special. P.S. I visited your house in Latham (?) over department international dinner around 1992. Your son told me I need a haircut. Please tell him I did get one. Today.