My friend Fred, may he rest in peace

After we had our second child at the end of 2008, Fred and Jeri unexpectedly sent a gift — a soft lamb that was also a palette for Gunnar to roll around on. When next I was in Washington, Fred insisted we go out to dinner so he could hear all the details about the baby. He was very insistent I not travel much, but spend time at home. He was very open with me that, having lost a child, I needed to make sure I spent as much time as possible with my children. It was as much a direct order as fatherly advice…

The last time we went out to dinner was around Thanksgiving in 2011. Jeri, Fred, Ed, and I sat at the Palm as Ed and I lamented the campaign season and the candidates. Fred chuckled and said he hoped whoever we decided on for 2012 did better than our horse from 2008. “I hear that one got taken to the glue factory,” he laughed, referring to himself.

I haven’t seen Fred Thompson in the past few years. But I think of him often. I catch him on Law & Order reruns or the inevitable showing of Hunt for Red October, Days of Thunder, or In the Line of Fire. I remember the stories he would tell of various actors and the quirks he saw. Fred, you need to understand, was a good actor. He was good enough not to be the lead, but to be the supporting actor who lifted up every scene for everyone else. More than once, scenes rested on his shoulders and he had enough humility to make the scene without making himself the center of the scene.