This will be short and sweet -- probably too sweet for many of you; for, you see, it's the first anniversary of the death of a good friend of mine.
When I came to Greenville on my exploratory visit in 2008, I ate on the second night at The Peddler Steak House. It's a family owned joint between downtown and Furman University. It is housed in a building more than 100 years old.
That first night I met the owners George and Deborah Schneider. After most of the crowd had cleared out, we sat in the rustic bar and chatted until closing.
Warm, friendly and truly fun to be with, the Schneiders became my Greenville family.
George and I shared a love of wine. I would bring him bottles of new wines I found and he would open some amazing things for me that weren't on the wine list, but part of a private stash he always kept upstairs.
He always gave me a hard time about the places downtown where I was a regular when not at The Peddler.
The last communication I had from him was a text message from the Greenville airport as he and his immediate family were getting ready to board a plane for a family wedding in the northeast. He died the next evening at the wedding's rehearsal dinner.
I will always remember the date of his passing because I didn't learn about it until the following day -- my birthday.
Although I had only known George for little more than two years, I felt I had known him my entire life. I am not alone in feeling that way. Our little troop of Peddler Wednesday-Night Irregulars rarely get together that his name doesn't come up one way or another.
He was a terrific man and a close friend. I still miss him and probably will every day for the rest of my life.
The photo posted with this little tribute is the only photo I have of George and me. I'm sure there are others out there, but it's the only one I have.
On that note, I have several Florida friends who came up to help me celebrate my birthday. Several of them surprised me downtown last night. A pub crawl of biblical proportions is planned for today. I'd like to get to the gym first, but that may be far too ambitious.