It’s been an eventful Spring and Summer. In April my father David Ward passed away, in a miserable sort of slow-motion way, and on his birthday of course. Dad had a great life, considering it ended -and started- terribly. (that’s him below on an airplane somewhere over America, circa 1960)

Dad was from Duluth MN, and had polio as a child. He finished high school from his hospital bed, then found the means to flee the frigid Duluthian tundra and make his way to college at the somewhat less fridgid Northwestern, where he was determined to make something of himself. He did so. In fact, my Dad’s marketing savvy for Shulton in the ’60s and ’70s is one reason Old Spice is a National Brand today. He didn’t get rich, because back then you didn’t get rich by being a loyal company man, but he was good at what he did, worked hard at it, took nothing for granted, and probably deserved better than he got.

(SIDE NOTE: When I was 15, we moved from New Jersey to Tennessee, and I was not happy about it. Dad was smart enough and gentle enough to wisely convince his skeptical and snotty son (me) to go to high-school here, which cost Dad a fortune, instead of where I wanted to go, which would have cost him nothing. He was generous even when I didn’t deserve it)

After Dad’s death, and after putting up a brave face for several weeks, my Mom was admitted to the hospital . She ended up staying in the hospital for over a month, which necessitated several additional trips out and back to Phoenix. Each of these trips have the unintended consequence of causing my older brother and hero Steve or I to stop work quickly and mobilize for travel cross country. During these times I can lose touch with clients, they can get (rightfully) annoyed , and I can end up making the whole world mad, losing money in the form of client refunds along the way. I have a 6 year old (Noah) and a 1 year old (Abram) at home that I also have to say goodbye to for these trips, and that’s no fun for me, or my wife.

As a mid-Summer-bad-news-palate cleanser, in early July our 3 year old golden retriever Izzy was killed by a reckless moron driving way too fast for the road in front of our house. Izzy had gotten out of the backyard, ran into the road, was hit, limped home, and collapsed. Dead. The rest is just too sad to write about. She was the most gentle animal I’ve ever met.

You know what’s more fun than a barrel-o-monkeys? Explaining to your son that his dog is dead. After the initial shock and tears, the conversation goes something like this:
NOAH: “Daddy, when I die will I get to see Izzy and Grampa again in heaven?”
DAD: (to himself) “There is no god Noah, because if there was a god none of these things would happen and Al Gore would have been our President.

DAD: (out loud) “Yes Noah, we will all be together again one day in heaven and it will be awesome, and we know this because that’s what they teach us in Sunday School, right buddy?”
NOAH: “Right Dad!”


If there has been one positive thing to happen this Summer, it was my wife Melissa urging us to give the boys (and ourselves) a Summer so good they’d have a chance to forget the bad. So off and on we’ve spent most of the Summer in a house a couple blocks from the beach next to Seaside Florida. People like to make fun of this area, but they don’t get it. It is a wonderful place, and I get to watch my son thrive in this not-of-this-world idyllic bubble, just as Truman Burbank did, only for me it’s by choice, and I get to play with Noah doing things like skim boarding, surfing, trail mountain biking, hanging at the ocean, and just trying to provide a sense of normalcy during a time that is anything but.

I’ll wrap this up with a note aimed at anyone who has been trying to do business with me over the past 4 months. I’m here and working, just not as much as you’d like. Parents come first, wife and kids come second, myself third, and you, patiently waiting client, come fourth. It has to be that way, for now.

I’m working a few hours each day, as well as late in the evening when the kids are asleep. In mid-August, when school starts and we’re back in Knoxville full-time, I will be back providing link building services, strategy, and training, working longer hours, as usual. I have to. I’m going to buy that place at the beach and semi-retire by gosh, and you, my new and existing clients, are what will make that possible.

Thank you for your time and patience.


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  1. says

    I’m a little late on this post. As you were, I’ve been dealing with several painful blows that have left the family emotionally exhausted and me feeling like a big ball of guilt for not finishing certain extraneous responsibilities (like blogging). This post helped put things into perspective, perhaps it’s appropriate that I read it today, a day when I’m ignoring work because my thoughts are already spent on personal matters.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry for your loss, you father sounded like a great man and your comments on him working so hard reminded me of my grandfather. Also, thank you for the laugh, “There is no god Noah, because if there was a god none of these things would happen and Al Gore would have been our President.” I’ve had that thought on more than one occasion, especially lately. Being surrounded by evangelicals doesn’t help the situation, i.e. “evolution is the devil, but this nice geneticist is going to help test the rest of the family to see who has the cancer gene.” The irony is painful. It makes me want to shake them and scream, “stop praying! Do more research, find another doctor, etc.” ::sigh::

    Thank you again. I’ve been reading your blog and following your presence in the SEO world for years now (yeah, that prob sounds creepy, I can relate though – I’m a chic in the field, that presents a number of creepy situations in and of itself) and really appreciate your openness and creativity. I want to keep learning and growing my understanding and I thank you for providing that opportunity.
    It’s now late August, I hope your family is doing better and work is caught up!

  2. Katherine Cole-Ingram says

    Hi Eric,

    I’m saddened over the loss of your father. I remember your father from Signal Mountain cleaners and he was fine man and I just know he is so very proud of you.

    I wish your Mother the very best and may God bless you and yours…but I believe he already has.

    Kitty Cole-Ingram

  3. says

    Eric, I am so sorry to hear about your father. I can’t imagine what that was like. I’m also very sorry to hear about your dog. I had a similar experience with my beloved black lab, Hudson, a few years back. I’m glad you and your family had a good time on your vacation and I’m sure your children and wife appreciate it. My thoughts are with you. And you’re right. Family always comes first.

  4. Anonymous says


    Don’t forget to be grateful, even when it seems there is nothing to be grateful about. I have had some experiences in recent history similar to those, an being grateful and surrendering. Try CS Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” – It helps.

  5. Anonymous says

    My condolences to you and your family. Even though you suffered so many hardships in such a short time, you shared your story so beautifully. Family is number one, and the way you put it, makes me think you are one down to earth and wonderful man. Best wishes on your continued return for your family to normal living.

  6. says

    I’m glad you have shared what you are going through, Eric. I’m a new client, so it’s good to know you are coming back to work fairly soon…and it’s good to know you’re the kind of guy who puts family first. Time with your loved ones, rest and being in nature should be restorative–God is in all those moments, as well as with you in all the hard things. I’d share more, but it’s really best to do that over beers on the beach. Maybe NEXT summer…

  7. Anonymous says

    Eric, I don’t even know why I read your blog, note, but I feel for you, your wife and son. I guess having gone through so much in my own life has made me closer to God not further away. Pain this intense is like hell itself, (as described). May my God grant you hope, peace, and a great deal of faith to substain you as you continue on this life journey.
    Cheryl Dixon

  8. says

    Dear Eric,

    Sorry to hear about your Father, and family troubles. Since becoming acquainted with your link building philosophy and methods, I’ve appreciated them as being very clear and honest — even noble.

    In your last post, you mentioned some criticism that people sent your way. It’s not worth taking too seriously. You are doing your best. And I’m grateful for whatever you want to share.

    So, why do bad things happen to good people? And good animals?

    Difficulties happen to everyone. We may all have our own thoughts about why, but I can say from experience that when you rise above them, you find them a blessing.

    On a side note: one other thing I really liked, when I saw you speak at SMX West, was your enthusiasm. That is great!

    Very sincerely,

  9. says

    Eric, Sorry to hear bout the hardship you have been enduring. At least now I understand why you haven’t been getting back to me (I paid a couple of weeks ago for the link building strategy).

    It does put everything into perspective. I hope things will only improve for you and hopefully you will also find some time for us fourth place clients :)


  10. says

    Eric, no one can make sense of the senseless hardships that come across our paths and the only approach we can take to survive it is to stay in the NOW. Keeping our thought-structures only in the present now… and simply taking only “the next indicated step”.

    My very best wishes for your family’s continued healing.
    Kindest regards,
    Valerie DiCarlo

  11. says

    All the best Eric. I don’t know you but you sound like a very decent guy.

    May you live forever, in song, story, fable and myth and may your life be as sweet as a Peshwari naan bread.

  12. says

    Tough times Eric. Why does it all have to come at once? Is there some evil plan to this, like God’s joke or something?

    I won’t pretend to understand what it’s like to lose your loved ones. I do know what it’s like to lose a dog. Losing one now to cancer, and she’s the most loyal, beautiful, loving creature I’ve ever dreamed existed. Even in cancer she’s playful and joyful. Stoic beyond words.

    Good for you to get away for awhile. Hope your luck starts moving the other way. It will.

    You’re a good man.

    All the best,

  13. says

    Eric, my condolences to you. That was very sad to hear about the passing of your father and your dog as well. Synchronicity – My good friend’s dog was hit and killed by a car just a few weeks ago and he has a young child as well [and on the 1st anniversary of the boy’s grandfather’s death]. How to explain that to the child was definitely a big concern. I truly hope that your wife continues to stay healthy and that you continue all the great work you have succeeded in thus far. Kind regards, Matt.