As I mentioned in a prior posting about my blood and platelet donations, there is a regular group of folks I see when I visit the Blood Center. In addition to the phlebotomists who have the Saturday shift, there are the men and women who, like me, spend a couple of hours every month making a donation. Some I only know by sight, others I know by first name. And then there's the Fudge Man.
A few years back, after I finished up my platelet donation, I saw that, in addition to the usual assortment of cookies, crackers, and trail mix in the canteen, there were a couple of plates with cut-up bars of fudge. When I asked about it, Debbie, the appointment coordinator, said that it had been brought by one of the other regulars.
Well, if making a blood donation is a good excuse for eating Lorna Doones for breakfast, it is a great excuse for having fudge. And we're talking really tasty, creamy fudge!
It was a few months before my donation schedule again coincided with that of the Fudge Man, but on the day it did, I noticed that there were a lot of familiar faces among the donors. It turned out that I was a latecomer to the group who were scheduling their appointments so they could be there for fudge. Over the next couple of years, I was pretty much in sync with him and more often than not had the opportunity to enjoy such flavors as eggnog, pumpkin pie, Oreo cookie, cheesecake and , of course, all manner of chocolate varieties.
This past Saturday, after I finished my platelet donation, I was sitting in the canteen with Steve (one of the regulars whose first name I do know) and another donor. When I mentioned that I hadn't seen the Fudge Man in awhile, Steve told me that he had died a few months ago. He and some of the other regulars found out on a Saturday morning when the Fudge Man was scheduled to donate that he had passed away in his sleep at the age of 48. That morning, Steve and a couple of others did a "triple," donating three units of platelets each. "We decided that we had to make up for the fact that he wasn't there."
Steve pointed at the two signs on the wall in the canteen, a list of all the people who have made 75 or more platelet donations. "He told me," Steve said, "that his goal was to get his name on that sign. And he did."
No, it doesn't say "Fudge Man." His name was John Roach. Most of us knew nothing about his family, his job, his life. But he was one of our Saturday morning regulars. And though we only saw him for a couple of hours every month or so, we will miss him.