In a December post entitled “Two Down, One to Go” I wrote about my three goals in writing ODES ON ALI: A TRIBUTE TO THE GREATEST. They were: complete a publishable manuscript, get it published while Muhammad Ali was still with us, and to get a copy to Mr. and Mrs. Ali. In a follow-up post, “Working On One To Go,” I wrote about locating an address for Mr. and Mrs. Ali and packaging up and sending off a copy. I noted in the post I had gotten back a signed return receipt from the address. While I didn’t recognize the name of the individual who signed for the package, I was still hoping at some point to get some type of acknowledgement from Mr. and Mrs. Ali. Bearing in mind the massive amounts of correspondence they must receive, I put any expectation on a back burner and moved on. Then, while speaking on my book at Miami Dade College on Friday, a lady in attendance asked if I had tried to get a copy to Ali and, if so, had I been successful and/or heard from him. I relayed to her the information above and told her I still was holding on to hope to hear back from them. Upon returning home after the speaking event Friday I retrieved the day’s mail. Standing out among the various white business envelopes of the solicitors and bill collectors was a deep pink, greeting card-type envelope. It had no return name and a not immediately familiar return address in Arizona. I put the mail aside as I went about putting away the things I had taken with me to the speaking engagement. My mind was still reflecting on the event I had just returned from, but my curiosity had been piqued as to the contents of that deep pink envelope. I retrieved and opened the envelope then pulled out the card inside. The face of the card was of a deep pink blooming flower on a turquoise background. As I gazed upon the elegant, elongated handwriting that began with Dear Mr. Bates, and started reading what had been written, it slowly began to sink in what I was holding. The opening thank you for sending Muhammad the wonderful tribute book that I wrote sufficiently fulfilled any and all expectations I held for a response. But then continuing with they were enjoying several evenings a week reading passages from my book, and that Muhammad was thoroughly enjoying hearing the rhythm and rhyme of  my poetry, just blew me away. And then just as I thought the smile on my face couldn’t spread any wider, thanking me for thinking of Muhammad and bringing joy and smiles to his day, I felt the corners of my mouth stretch to new heights. Turning to the back of the card it was signed, All my best, Lonnie Ali. I am eternally grateful to Mrs. Ali for taking the time to respond. I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing of her correspondence. It is by far the highlight of my long journey to the completion of a tribute to the greatest fighter of all time and someone I have held the utmost respect and admiration for from my earliest memories. To know that I have been able to bring even one moment of joy to a man who has provided me with too many to count makes this book a success and my long, winding road to publication worth every effort along the way. I am truly grateful for, and humbled by, her words. For her to take the time to respond means more to me than she’ll ever know. I wish for nothing but days filled with joy and smiles for both her and the champ. They deserve nothing less.