Archive for Snow Angels

Post #150 – About the Life and Death of James Thompson

Posted in BOOKS, Family, family drama, marriage, Motherhood, nonfiction, relationships, true stories with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2015 by tenaciousbitch

For those who didn’t read my previous post last August –

http://tenaciousbitch.com/2014/08/04/about-james-thompson-author-of-snow-angels-my-ex-husband-who-died-last-weekend/

My ex-husband, James Thompson (author of Snow Angels) died in an accident in Helsinki, Finland where he had lived for the last 16 years. Initially, the details of his passing were sketchy.  However, I’ve since learned more about the circumstances on that dark night when Jim departed this world.

Unfortunately, Jim had suffered with severe migraines for years, and the medication he was taking made him drowsy, and it can also cause dizziness. The night he died, he took a walk after dinner by a lake near his house, which he’d done many times before. From what I understand, he lost his balance on the pier bordering the lake, and he drown.

He also had a head injury, so he either struck his head on the pier as he fell or he might’ve hit a rock or something in the water. They’re not really sure. However, he had always been a strong swimmer, so he had to have been unconscious, or he’d still be with us today.

Annika, his widow was just here in the states a few weeks ago. They had a memorial for him in Kentucky. Our son and his fiance were able to attend, but, unfortunately, I just started a new job in March, so I wasn’t able to get time off work. I also didn’t want to make Annika, uncomfortable – especially since I’ve never met her.

They buried his ashes in the family cemetery on his father’s farm. As I mentioned in a previous post, he and his third wife, Many, lived on the farm in a mobile home for a couple of years before they moved to Helsinki in ’98. It’s really beautiful there with acres and acres of lovely green grass and lush foliage, a very fitting place for his remains. He spent a lot of time there as a kid when his Uncle lived on the property before his father built a house there in ’98 or ’99. Some day, when I’m driving down to West Virginia to see friends or something, I’ll take a detour to Kentucky to visit his grave. I’d like to see the headstone that my son and his father’s family chose to honor him.

It’s odd being the ex-wife in these situations. I sent sympathy cards to his father and stepmother and his mother and stepfather. I emailed Annika and several of Jim’s friends a few words of condolence, but it still doesn’t seem real to me because I haven’t experienced any of the usual ceremonies of closure since I wasn’t able to go to the memorial or anything.

The last time I saw him was in 1998 when I picked up our son from the farm a few days before Jim and Many (pronounced money) set out for Helsinki. And our last conversation a few years later was fraught with anger and animosity – and our last email in 2003 was just as ugly.

I was 20 years old when we got married, and it took me a couple of years to realize that we were very different people with opposing priorities. I knew that neither of us was going to change, so I left him, and he was devastated.

He moved to Boston the week after our divorce was final, but things didn’t end there. He used to call me all the time and tell me how lonely he was. By that I don’t mean, he wasn’t alone all the time. He was knockin’ boots with a different girl every night, which he felt the need to share (awesome). What he missed was the connection and camaraderie we shared, a connection that was brutally severed after we attempted to reconcile in ’89, but we shall not knock upon that dreadful door at present – or ever.

I had wanted to move to Boston for graduate school after finishing my B.A. in English so that our son could spend time with his father. However, I just couldn’t afford to do so. The cheapest daycare I could find was $800/month, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable leaving my dog there. And it would’ve been impossible to squeeze $200/week into a budget based on the pittance I was offered as a TA (teaching assistant), which was around $9,000/year (plus free tuition).

I also didn’t know anyone in Bean Town that I could share an apartment with, and you can’t just move in with a stranger you met through an ad on a bulletin board at UMass (University of Massachusetts at Boston) when you have a child. Jim was very upset that I moved to New York instead because I had a friend there who was in need of a roommate, and that also happened to be where I found a job first.

Of course, when I ended up moving to Ohio in 1995…well, let’s just say – we won’t go there. His fury and frustration were understandable. And guilt was my constant companion, but I truly felt that Ohio was a better place for me and my children (i.e. my son, Max, was 5 when we settled in the Buckeye state).

Anywho…it is what it is.

Oddly, Jim used to joke around about his demise, quoting the infamous James Dean all the time:

“Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.”  Sadly, that’s just what he did. A tad bit eerie when you think about it.

Adieu, Mr. Thompson, may you rest in peace.

If anyone’s interested, I’ve got some photos of Jim for sale on Ebay – which I’m selling to either add to the monetary wedding gift for our son who is getting married in 6 weeks or to help with travel expenses for the wedding, which is taking place in Florida (1,000 miles away).

To see a photo of Jim with long hair when he was 26 or 27, go here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/252079424659?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

To see a photo of Jim in a hard hat when he was working construction, go here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/252079483379?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

And for one of me and Jim when we were dating when we were both 20 years old, go here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/252079435979?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Over and out from the island of chaos that never seems to close… 🙂

~TB

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Post #142 – Jim was just hanging out of what?

Posted in college, dating, Family, family drama, friends, humor, memoir, nonfiction, relationships, sex, true stories, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2014 by tenaciousbitch

The night I met Jim (Thompson – see my previous post –http://tenaciousbitch.com/2014/08/04/about-james-thompson-author-of-snow-angels-my-ex-husband-who-died-last-weekend/,

I was waiting tables at the Monarch Cafe in Huntington, West Virginia, when I was going to Marshall University in 1985. I was carrying a tray full of cocktails and a pitcher of beer when a man behind me called out, “Yo, babe with the legs, would you bring me a beer?”

I turned around to see Jim sitting along a row of benches in the pool room with a couple of his friends (who exactly, I don’t remember). He had this big, goofy grin widening across his face, and he was waving at me as if he knew me. Not the quote I would’ve volunteered to my grandchildren about my first encounter with my future husband…:), but I was only 19 years old! He kinda had me at YO BABE (ugh my feminist alter ego YELLS).

I went over and took their order. Later, I caught sight of a couple 8 x 10 black and white photographs on the table. As I walked over to see if he and his friends wanted another round of beer, I noticed one of the photos was of a quarry from a rather high altitude. I recognized it, but I wasn’t sure why.

“You like the photo?” Jim asked, those bedroom blue eyes twinkling.

“Yeah, and it looks really familiar,” I replied. “Where is that?”

“It’s in Ashland by the refinery,” he answered. “Ever been there?”

“Many times,” I said, smiling. “My Dad works at Ashland Oil.”

“Really? So do I. What’s your Dad’s name?”

I told him, and then I asked, “Do you work in the plant?”

“No, I’m a photographer. My Dad was a photographer there too, and he got me the job.”

“Oh, cool. So, how’d you get that picture? Did you go up in one of the towers?” I asked, meaning one of the cooling towers in Ashland’s refinery (where they make gasoline and other petroleum products).

“No, I didn’t like the angle from the cooling towers, so I went up in the company helicopter.”

“That sounds like fun. And it must’ve been challenging to get the photo since the only window surrounds the pilot.”

“The propellers obstructed my view from the co-pilot’s seat, so I laid down on the floor and had Troy hold my ankles as I hung out of the helicopter for a minute or two while I snapped away.”

“Oh, my God!” I shrieked laughing. “Who’s Troy?”

“An intern in the PR department. Should’ve seen his face when I was done, white as a damned sheet,” Jim said laughing.

“No safety harness of any kind?” I asked.

“Now, that would’ve been a good idea, but I didn’t think to ask for one,” Jim said, laughing. “And they probably didn’t have one anyway. I doubt the executives at Ashland Oil would wanna hang out of the helicopter.”

“Probably not. Well, I need to get back to work. You guys need anything else?”

“Just your phone number,” Jim said smiling.

“I’m dating someone,” I said.

“I don’t care,” Jim replied boldly with his most auspicious fuck the world attitude.

I laughed and later I gave him my phone number, and we started going out. Frankie, my boyfriend at the time, was out of town at a music festival with a couple of his friends, and things weren’t going well between us before he left anyway.

On our third date, Jim told me loved me, and we were inseparable for the next 3 years…except for the night Frankie returned.

With tears in my eyes, I broke up with Frankie, who said. “I don’t blame you” because we had a lot of serious issues in our relationship (like the fact we’d been dating for 6 months and had never had sex, but that’s another post itself). Frankie’s lack of anger and such made me feel all the worse. And he moved out that night.

That said, for those who knew James David Thompson, Jr, I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that I fell for a guy who seemed absolutely fearless, and the hanging out of the helicopter incident kinda put him in the realm of Indiana Jones or Tony Stark on a small town scale…

But we were very young, and things didn’t work out. We divorced in 1988, and I’ve been happily remarried to Charlie since 2000. While Charlie hasn’t hung out of any helicopters, he’s been known to impersonate a Tesla Coil on occasion (hence his nickname – SPARKY), and he’s an Olympic cutter, who could cut himself in a room full of cotton! 🙂  And he’s always there when I need him…:)

~Tenacious Bitch and her band of truth-spouting hippies

TB/ks/lsl

Tenacious Bitch © 2014

Post #141 – About James Thompson, author of Snow Angels, my ex-husband, who died last weekend

Posted in Family, memoir, nonfiction, relationships, rock music, true stories with tags , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2014 by tenaciousbitch
JIM HIS DAD OUR WEDDING

From our wedding album – James Thompson and his father James Thompson, Sr., on March 23, 1986.

Yesterday I received the sad news that my ex-husband, Jim Thompson, died in some sort of accident a couple of days ago. I don’t know all the details. I haven’t spoken to anyone in his family yet. He was the author of Snow Angels and five other novels.

Jim moved to Helsinki, Finland, in 1997 or ’98, and we’ve had no contact since a heated argument via email in 2003. However, he and our son, who is in college, have kept in touch, and Jim visited him here in the states last summer.

It was difficult to break the news to our son. And, naturally, he was rather shocked. I assume they will have some kind of memorial in Kentucky where Jim grew up, where many of his relatives still live.

Despite our differences, he was a very talented writer, and there will be a literary void without his future books.  But what many people don’t know is that he was also a very talented musician. He moved to Boston after our divorce and became the lead guitarist in a rock band, whose name I don’t recall.

Eight years later, he and his third wife, Many (pronounced money), moved back to Kentucky for a short time. They lived on some farmland Jim’s family owns, which was about an hour from my hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, where I was still living at the time.

I’ll never forget one particular incident when I went down to Kentucky to pick up our son when he was around 10. It was in the middle of the summer, and they didn’t have air conditioning. Though there were numerous fans whirring, it still seemed swampy inside their small but orderly house.  After I walked in, Jim stood by the front door smoking a cigarette and blowing smoke rings into the screen door behind him.

I glanced about the room at the modest but artsy furnishings and noticed a dead squirrel on the Formica-topped kitchen table. And it was all bloody! Jim burst into a fit of laughter seeing my look of revulsion at their recently murdered entree, so to speak.

He grew up hunting and fishing and the like, and my childhood was marked by ballet and gymnastics classes, playing tennis and lounging by the pool at a middle class country club. My parents weren’t wealthy, but we lived comfortably, and the country club cost less than a family membership to the YMCA these days.

“You’re welcome to help me skin that squirrel if you’d like,” he said, grinning. “I know how you love that sort of thing.”

Our son giggled, and I smiled.

His tiny wife rolled her eyes and gave him a smiling smirk. In her thick, Finnish accent, she said, “Pay no attention to him. He does not seem to understand that not everyone is accustomed to eating the critters from the yard.”

“He knows he’d have to be a lot harsher than that to offend me,” I replied amiably.  However, I thought her attempt to alleviate the awkwardness was very kind, but I honestly didn’t care that Jim was making fun of me. He and I always attempted to get along – especially when our son was around.

Aside from killing creatures of the forest and playing guitar, Jim was also an excellent photographer. He was working in the photography department at Ashland Oil when we met, but that was never his first love. I always thought music was his true mistress, but he found a new passion when he moved to Helsinki. And I’m glad for him that he found success writing novels.

He and Many divorced when our son was in high school, and Jim got married again 3-4 years later to a lovely lady named Annika, whom I’ve never met. But my son has shown me photos.

It’s my understanding that Jim developed some serious health problems, probably a decade ago. He had headaches so severe that he often couldn’t work or do much of anything. The doctors in Finland had run dozens of tests but never determined the exact cause from what I was told. At least now, though his life was truncated way too soon, his family and friends can take solace in the fact that he’s no longer in pain.

Many prayers to my son, Jim’s widow, and all of Jim’s family and friends.

Rest in peace, JT. Rest in peace and may there be lots of biscuits and sausage gravy, pie and pastry, White Castle hamburgers, Kim Chee, and dark beer wherever you’ve landed in the next life.  And I hope you and your friends, family and your fans will enjoy the photos below from our days of yore…:)

~TB

JIM AND I - WEDDING PHOTO

JIM AND BABY CHRIS - 1ST DAY IN ATHENS OUTSIDE OUR APT

Jim and our son, Chris, in front of our apartment the day we brought him home from the hospital in Athens, Ohio, where we both attended Ohio University for a year.