Seven years ago today, May 3, 2009, my best friend died. Fuzzy Thompson and I were roommates at Clemson. We were roommates after Clemson. After Sally and I were married, he ate more meals at our house than I can count. He was in our wedding. I spoke at his funeral.
Fuzzy spent Christmases with my family and went on vacation with us. We lived on the same side of town in Columbia, South Carolina, where his Orange Volkswagen Beetle with the “Fuzzy” license plate was ubiquitous. He threw at least three Big Parties annually—one during the Christmas season, one for the Super Bowl, and an end-of-school outdoor extravaganza known as the Porch Party. We had our last Porch Party after Fuzzy’s funeral. Actually, it was an important aspect of Fuzzy’s funeral.
I keep thinking I will write something longer, something funnier, something more substantial about Fuzzy sooner or later, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m not sure why.
I’ve missed him even in New Hampshire. Memories there, too. He and I took a trip to New England one year at the peak of the fall leaf season. Sally taught school and didn’t take time off for all the destinations I wanted to see. So Fuzzy and I traveled together. We ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the beauty of the colorful mountainsides, then we’d argue about directions—turn right or left?
Fuzzy would have enjoyed many of my New England experiences this winter—especially the fine dining. Of course, he would have complained endlessly about other things. That, too, was part of his charm.
We traveled lots of miles together, literally and figuratively. Fuzzy went with my family to England, Scotland, and Wales one summer. We stayed six weeks, driving from London to Yorkshire to the Isle of Mull in Scotland and back again. When I wasn’t getting on Fuzzy’s nerves, my daughters were. Once, we stopped at a small museum in Wales and Fuzzy didn’t come inside with us. When we got back to the car, we realized we had locked him in. Apparently you can do that in English vehicles.
Sally and I celebrated her 40th birthday in Paris. Fuzzy was, of course, with us.
Fuzzy spent Christmases at the Aldridge’s for over thirty years. As a bachelor, he felt the need to cut some of the apron strings from his mother in Manning, South Carolina, so he started coming to our home in Batesburg on Christmas Eve. He helped me assemble play kitchens and bicycles and a hundred other toys for Jenna and Julie.
Together, Fuzzy and I went to the Holy Land, to the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and a whole bundle of Clemson football games. We went to a John D. MacDonald/Travis McGee conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We chaperoned teenagers at a Young Life Camp in Colorado. Different events had different configurations. Ted Godfrey, Marty Kearse, Fuzzy and I shared season tickets to Clemson football games for over thirty years. The Wrights, the Shepherds, the Snellings, and other regulars tailgated with us in Tiger Town. Larry Abernathy, Fuzzy, and I took a baseball trip to the Northeast, seeing games in Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and Camden Yards.
Not enough experiences. Not enough memories. Fuzzy died too young—at age 60. I still miss him, even in New Hampshire.