I’ve been struggling lately. It has been reflected in my writing schedule as reflected by an almost month-long gap posting on this Hot White Snow blog. I’ve written less on my own web page as well, and I can’t remember the last time I wrote on The Dake Page. My current book projects are starting to sprout weeds due to a combination of a heavy travel schedule and some unforeseen psychological trials.
This latter aspect became acute a couple of weeks ago. My father fell and broke his collarbone two days before my long-planned drive to Massachusetts and Maine to visit family and get some R&R. I had postponed a different road trip and presentation in April to drive instead to Massachusetts when he fell and broke his hip. At 91, this has become an uncomfortably common occurrence. On that visit, and the current one, I never saw him at home; he was in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities during my entire stay. He is still there as I write this over two weeks from his latest fall, although the hope is he can move home this Friday.
While staying at my parents’ place keeping my mother company I found out that William Terbo had passed away. Terbo is the grandnephew of Nikola Tesla, the topic of my first published book. I had met Terbo a few years back and he was complimentary of my efforts to inform more people about Tesla. I bragged that I had shook the hand of a man who had shook the hand of Nikola Tesla himself (Terbo had at ten years old met his granduncle). Now he was gone.
But that, it turns out, was merely a preamble to another more profound death. As I wrote on Science Traveler, John Elliff had just completed his term as President of the Lincoln Group of DC. I looked up to him as the proverbial scholar and gentleman in all ways. I wrote about him a few days after his sudden passing and find that two weeks later I am still intensely moved. Because of my own father’s situation I wasn’t able to make it back to DC in time for his funeral, and I still feel at a loss. John was a mentor, a friend, and, in a way, a father figure. I’m still struggling with his sudden departure. This has become especially evident as I begin to address Lincoln Group issues. John was to be our October dinner speaker, a chapter contributor for a book we’re developing, and as past-president, a sage adviser to the new board. He was also our font of knowledge in the monthly book discussion group. As all of these voids hit me, my sense of loss intensifies.
Add in Aretha Franklin, John McCain, and other notables, plus some non-death related stressors, and its been a rough stretch.
So I need to get back on track. Last night I juggled for the first time in two weeks; I had been doing it nightly as a way to destress and focus. I’m writing this post, which I hope will get my thought processes working again. Shortly I’ll be flying out to the Pacific Northwest for a long road trip beginning at Crater Lake and ending at Glacier National Park. Fires are currently limiting access to both areas, as well as along the Columbia River gorge, so my fingers are crossed that we’ll still manage the experiences we originally anticipated when the idea for the trip arose. After that we get a travel break. The break is needed as the last three months have essentially been non-stop. It won’t be a total moratorium and the expectation is there will be one or two or three short trips, perhaps to Chicago, Charleston, and New York City. But the main goal is to get my writing back into gear, especially since I have three books “in the works,” none of which has seen much ink lately.
So the struggling will continue for a while. I’m playing tour guide today and chauffeur the end of the week, followed by the Northwest trip and final planning for a busy travel season spanning mid-November to nearly Christmas (including Thanksgiving with my family, hopefully at home and not in a hospital). Somehow through all this I need to find a way to write productively while traveling. And with that, I must get going.
David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.