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…:)