Yesterday, when I was supposed to blog, my brain was still jet-lagged. You spend a week in a beautiful state on the west coast, and by the time you adjust to the three-hour time difference, it’s time to come home–and adjust to the three-hour time difference. I know the purpose of a vacation is to “vacate” your regular life and relax, but I felt bad that I didn’t do any writing, except for a 100-word Friday Fictioneers piece. I did no work at all on the project I’m in the middle of revising. Bad me.
A writer friend pointed out over coffee yesterday afternoon that the break from the revision project is probably good, that I likely needed to take a step back, not think about it, then dive back in. Sounds like a plan, except that yesterday my brain couldn’t wrap itself around what time zone it occupied, much less concentrating on revising a novel.
Let’s hope today is better and more productive, and at least I’m writing a blog post. That has to count for something.
Now on to something a bit more serious. A writer died over the weekend. He didn’t have the national notoriety of a Richard Matheson or a Vince Flynn, but he was beloved here in the Shenandoah Valley and among his fellow writers in the Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta Group of Writers (SWAG Writers). His poetry, whether about animals he spotted in his yard, lost loves, or eccentric composers, was sublime and touching. He was initially dubious about our open mic nights. “Can’t we just sit at the table and read to each other?” he asked. We encouraged him to the stage, but he didn’t have enough light to see his pages. We would take turns over the weeks and months holding a lamp over his shoulder so he could see well enough to read. Why? Because his poetry was wonderful. He gradually took to the applause and was often among the first to sign up for reading slots.
Then, in the past few months, he stopped coming. We tried to find out what was wrong through mutual friends, and we heard that he just “isn’t doing well,” a southern metaphor for “he doesn’t have much time left.” Then, we heard he would be coming back to SWAG Open Mic night this month, but he didn’t show. Again, we asked around, and then we got the news. He had passed away this past Saturday at the age of 79, far too young we thought.
His obit described him as “a loving father, grandfather, friend, musician, teacher, choir director, author, poet, and wine connoisseur.” I think we in SWAG got to experience each aspect of him through his poetry readings. We had already missed his whimsical verse over the past few months, and now knowing we’ll never hear it again is disheartening. He was a true Renaissance Man, whose wit and wisdom we will miss, and we are lessened in our craft by the loss of him.
Rest in peace, Theodore George Grudzinski, poet and fellow SWAGger. We will always keep a chair at the table for you.