Today is my longtime friend Jason Fleigel's birthday. I'm sure he is celebrating with his wife and 2 youngsters, but I will salute him from here.
I first met Jason back in 1995, when he started as a telemarketer for Lerner Newspapers. The telemarketing job didn't work out well, but he became far more valuable to Lerner. More importantly, he became one of my dearest friends.
Some people called him "the angry one" or "the little ball of hate" and I really couldn't disagree (especially since I called him that). He definitely added some life and energy into the company. Despite sometimes lacking tact, Jason always was willing to help anyone.
Our work relationship lasted about 5 years, but our friendship has passed 23 years (and I have the gray hair to prove it). We have had great roadtrips, been to many comic cons, shared many laughs, gotten through some hard times and all the other things that friends do. I was so proud to be one of his groomsmen at his wedding, too.
JayHawk is married with 2 kids and living in the western suburbs. I don't get to see him as often as I would like, but time and distance doesn't matter. He is still my little brother and I couldn't be happier that he has found such happiness with his family.
Happy birthday, Jason. Enjoy your day with your beautiful, loving family. You deserve it all, my friend.
Ashley Prester, Jason Fleigel and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.