Back to the Real World

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.

In Memoriam

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.

Ted Grudzinski

Ted Grudzinski

Rest in peace, Theodore George Grudzinski, poet and fellow SWAGger. We will always keep a chair at the table for you.

10 thoughts on “Back to the Real World

  1. This is beautiful. Ted is my grandfather and I miss him dearly. Reading this entry brought tears to my eyes but also a smile. It’s comforting to know he has so many people who care about him. Thank you.

  2. I loved this piece. I am Lucy Tauber Brysk. The “lost love”. Ted’s lover & muse for the past four years. We first met in college when I was 17–and he was a 23 year old graduate teaching assistant. He was my conductor & my friend. And he felt he was too old for me. We re-met 4 years ago after an absence of more than 50 years…and then he declared his love for me. By then we had accumulated marriages (3 for him, 1 for me) children (5 for him, 5 for me) and grandchildren (10 for me and 6 for him.). We were lovers for the past 4 years. I was with him as he lay dying, and when he died. I read 2 of his poems at his funeral. I miss him unbearably.

    • Lucy, I was at Ted’s funeral and loved your reading of his poems. I took that picture, and I have three of him. I will email them to you when I return from a trip I’m on. Take care. Maggie Duncan

      • Thank you so much. I wish you had stopped to talk with me that day. I did notice a group of young women that I did not recognize. (Figured they were a gaggle of old girlfriends) Ted loved the SWAG sessions. Was always wanting to me to come with him. Often I was out of town.

  3. so my email is lbrysk39@yahoo.com & mailing address 4269 Hawk St. San Diego CA. 92103
    I was going to go to penultimate SWAG meeting with Ted–as I was in Churchville with him…and then he felt to fatigued to go. So sad about so many missed opportunities in the last four years.

  4. and our second ‘date’ after we re-connected four summers ago in July–was to a Haiku reading in Greenwich Village in NY–were he was invited to read his poems for a Plum Blossom Festival Haiku reading. That was my first introduction to his poetry. And I was delighted.

  5. Hello, I just stumbled onto your blog post quite by chance, and unfortunately, too late to make a reacquaintance with Maistro Grudzinski, as I knew him. I was looking at a Wine reference book and noticed the name…surely less common than John Smith! And to my surprise, yes, this was the same man who led the boy choir I sang in during my childhood, and who took special interest and time into my personal development in music. He left quite a lasting impression. To think that I found him via a completely different world was unbelievable, and not surprising…He was obviously quite talented in many areas. How I wish I had been given the opportunity to “catch up” on life with him before his untimely passing. And perhaps to listen again to one of his many reel-to-reel recordings of me singing in that boy choir many years ago! What a bright spot it was today to read about his life as it soared in many other endeavors! And special thanks to you for publishing this and allowing me this glimpse of an important life, in my life.

    • Thank you, Joe. Ted would have loved to hear from you again. His books on wine & an encyclopedia of musical terms are still available on Amazon–and in the Staunton Library.
      He died almost 3 years ago–and I miss him immensely each and every day. Lucy Tauber Brysk

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