Farewell to a Writer, with a capital W

Barking Mad & Cailean November 2008I met Ross Eldridge through my online writing critique group, The Internet Writing Workshop (IWW). As a mark of his writing ability, I felt I knew him personally even though we had never met.

His prolific works were always filled with life, wit, charm, and British intellect at its very best. I loved his long and looping essays that started in one place, and like any good, long story, encompassed many subjects before returning to wrap up at the end.

We corresponded outside the workshop and I came to know him and his little dog, Cailean, through his blog and irregular letters several of us continued long after he left the critique group. So when I heard this week he recently died of cancer, I felt as though I had lost a good friend. One of his last Tweets: “Well, if this is cancer, I don’t think much of it.”

Rest in peace, Ross.  Wherever you are, I hope they have plenty of paper and pens available (or computers, I know you’d love that!), and an ample supply of small Dachshunds for you pleasure. Maybe just one; I know that would make you happy. I would love to hear from you about the people you see on the other side and how things work over there. Write me a letter because I miss your voice.

God speed, my friend.

You can find his essays at Barking Mad in Amble by the Sea and there is an extensive set of essays at the Camroc Press Review/ Ross Eldridge.


  25 comments for “Farewell to a Writer, with a capital W

  1. James Simmons
    15/02/2013 at 7:49 am

    Thank you, Sarah, for your kind comments. I was just browsing through some of Ross’s work, when I came across this timely thought:

    I’m looking forward to being cremated, with no funeral service, and scattered off in the wild somewhere easily forgotten by a stranger.

    Will anyone think of me when the anniversary date rolls around? I’m not sure that I give a hoot. I’d much rather somebody thought of me while I was alive to enjoy it. Perhaps a postcard?

    Well, Ross, we are thinking of you as the anniversary date draws near. And I would like to think that you do give a hoot, wherever you are. I’m sure you do. You were exactly that type of person: considerate, thoughtful and supportive – just to mention three adjectives. As for the postcard, forward me your address and I’ll pop one off in the post – gladly!

    • 15/02/2013 at 8:00 am

      How interesting you should have found that particular piece of writing just now. I also read that, and happily for me, before he died. I immediately wrote him a post card and told him how important he had been to me and to my writing. I hope he got it.

  2. James Simmons
    14/02/2013 at 3:25 pm

    So, almost a year has gone by since Ross passed away. I was remembering him today as I strolled along the beach at Seascale, Cumbria. He and I met only a few times, but we had been emailing each other for a good number of years, going back to the days when he lived in Cherristone Cottage, Bermuda. In our correspondence, he patiently gave me detailed and constructive criticism of a novel I have been writing; and we would type away at away at length about our dogs – his dachshunds, Aleks and Cailean; and my border terrier, Angus. Whenever we met in the Lake District, Ross enjoyed touring round, feasting his eyes on the views from the car window and marvelling at the beauty he saw in Nature. He was especially fascinated by the Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Keswick, and wrote a novella centred on that ancient site. I wonder what became of it.
    Ross, it was a great privilege to have known you and to have shared our thoughts. I miss you, but am comforted by the knowledge that you are now at peace. Sleep soundly, my dear friend.

    • 14/02/2013 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks for writing, James. I remember Ross writing about a friend who was writing a novel; it must have been you. I know he helped me immensely with my own writing. He was so lucky to have such caring friends. Yes, he is missed but I, too, take comfort knowing he is no longer in pain. I just wish he’d write and tell me what it’s like ‘over there.’ Can’t you just hear his riffs on what he’s seeing?

      Take care of yourself and do stay in touch.

  3. 11/06/2012 at 3:44 pm

    Oh that makes me sad. My thoughts are with you in this time 🙂

  4. Justin
    07/06/2012 at 12:40 pm

    Thank you for your well expressed sentiments. Ross’s cousin sprinkled his ashes into the water in the hope that they might someday wash up on the shore of Bermuda, where Ross was born. I said, ‘Let’s hope that the tides will carry you back home.’

    • 07/06/2012 at 1:00 pm

      A perfect ceremony, Justin. Water is such a wonderful medium for the last resting place. May the gyres carry him around the globe and beyond. namaste.

  5. 06/06/2012 at 4:59 pm

    He showed us how to think and then how to write about the thinking. I had to read his work slowly … one, to understand and two, to savor.

    • 07/06/2012 at 1:10 pm

      Exactly, Karna, a perfect description of how one has to read his work… And his Ross-isms, sublime. I am so glad his blog is still there.

  6. 05/06/2012 at 10:55 am

    How sad but a lovely tribute. Mt condolences for your loss.

    • 05/06/2012 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks, Liz. He was a lovely person.

  7. 04/06/2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’m so sorry he’s gone. Thank you, Sarah, for this post about a man whose writing I remember as wonderful. And he cared about the writing of others. I’m glad you kept in touch with him, and who knows, maybe you will again in the future we’re all going to discover.

    • 04/06/2012 at 4:00 pm

      What do they say? Only the good die young. He was 62. Only 62. And, yes, Deanna, he cared about writing, his own and that of others. I loved his reading lists and his knowledge of current events as well as history. I told someone recently that I always felt I needed a newspaper and an encyclopedia by my side when I read his essays. He will be missed. But his writing is still live on his blog; that is the gift he left all of us.

  8. 04/06/2012 at 1:31 pm

    Those are my exact sentiments, Pam. I love that his blog is still live and that he published some of his work over at Camroc Press Review– a sort of immortality.

  9. 04/06/2012 at 9:09 am

    I’m sorry for your loss. A writer’s gift is that when their body leaves this world, those left behind are still graced with their words.

  10. 04/06/2012 at 7:55 am

    I know how you feel, Gary. The last letter I got from Ross was the Christmas before he died. I had sent him one of those Jacquie Lawson animated Advent calendars I sent to your family. His had tracks from the London Boy’s Choir; he said he loved it so and it made him weep. That was the last email I got from him. I can only imagine he already knew his diagnosis. I do know he had good friends and family close by, so I hope he had the support of those who loved him when he died, and you just *know* he made arrangements of the best kind for little Cailean. I MISS him!

  11. 04/06/2012 at 7:27 am

    “Write me a letter because I miss your voice.”

    Dear God, what a perfect sentiment.

    As for me, I feel as if I failed him in some way. Such is life, I suppose. We stumble, ramble, and fall. All we can do is get up and take another step.

  12. 03/06/2012 at 9:02 pm

    Sarah, I read some of his work through your link and loved it. I’m sorry you lost this friend, at least for now. I have hopes of regaining all those we lose in this life in some form or another when I cross over.

    • 04/06/2012 at 7:26 am

      I completely agree, Laurie, and I hope to catch up with him somewhere, someplace. I know he’d have some wonderful observations about where he currently finds himself. I am happy his blog continues to stand so his writing is still circulating. Namaste.

  13. 03/06/2012 at 5:16 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to your old friend. I’m sure he’s quite touched by your words.

    • 04/06/2012 at 7:23 am

      Thanks, Cindy. It’s always hard losing people we care about, and for sure Ross was very special.

  14. peggy vincent
    03/06/2012 at 12:03 pm

    This makes me very sad…sadder still that I had to learn of it this way.
    His gift with words was marvelous, as was his love of his little dog.
    He was such a loner…who will care for the sweet dog?

    • 03/06/2012 at 12:53 pm

      I just learned about it yesterday from a mutual friend who did an Internet search and saw a brief note from The Ambler where Ross was an occasional contributor. No Obit that I could find and I’ve been searching ever since that last blog post. It is heartbreaking. I know Ross had a couple of very good friends in Amble, and his family lives nearby, so I have to assume Cailean is in a loving home.

    • Justin
      07/06/2012 at 12:34 pm

      I was his best friend. He bequeathed Cailean to me. I’m taking good care of him.

      • 07/06/2012 at 12:50 pm

        Hello, Justin, and thank you so much for visiting my blog. I can only imagine the visceral pain you must be experiencing these days. I lost my (very elderly) father in April and while it was expected, due to his age, it has taken me this long to be able to write about or talk about him without dissolving. There were several of us who knew Ross through the IWW and all of us miss him acutely. Know that you have company in your grief. I am so glad to hear that Cailean is with you. He needs a good friend who understands and feels the same loss, and I am sure he provides you untold amounts of comfort. Take care of yourself, my friend, and be well. If you believe in the hereafter or a wheel of life, I am sure we will all see each other again, somewhere, sometime.

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