You have probably noticed that The Word Detective has become, shall we say, somewhat sporadic in recent months. I need to explain that.
Over the past ten years, as many of you are aware, I have been fighting the advance of progressive multiple sclerosis. At this point, I have difficulty walking, my vision is unreliable at best, and my left hand is close to useless.
For the past two months, however, I have been undergoing a series of tests that indicate a much bigger problem. I have Stage 4 (i.e., metastatic) cancer.
Under the circumstances, I’m going to have to suspend The Word Detective in both its web and email forms. The Word Detective website will remain online for the foreseeable future, but will not be updated. Comments will be disabled because I won’t be able to moderate them.
The Word Detective began as an internationally-syndicated newspaper column called Words, Wit and Wisdom, started by my father, William Morris, back in 1954. My parents worked together on the column until my mother’s death in 1986; I joined my father as co-columnist in 1990 and took over after he died in 1994. This column will have lasted for 62 years.
I am very grateful to my parents for laying the foundations for what has turned out to be a fascinating career. The growth of the internet, which hardly existed when I started The Word Detective on the Web in 1995, has given me readers, friends and supporters from all over the world. Your questions have sparked my own curiosity and learning, and your generosity has kept the website and column afloat.
Unfortunately, my cancer diagnosis could not have come at a worse time for us financially. The effects of my multiple sclerosis had already made it impossible for me to continue writing books, my primary source of income, and in 2014 Newsday (the Long Island / Metro NYC newspaper) discontinued the How Come? weekly science column written by my wife, Kathy Wollard, for 27 years. Although Kathy has also produced four books based on her column, the royalties she receives are minuscule, and other freelance income is sporadic at best.
Meanwhile, our only car, a 1997 Toyota bought used in 2000, has finally given up the ghost, beset by a panoply of ills (steering, brakes, transmission, exhaust, and electrical system). Many of these problems can’t be fixed because the frame of the vehicle, to which those things are attached, is rusted through in many strategic spots. Our Toyota service center has warned us that driving the car is a very bad idea because it could literally break in half at any moment.
Unfortunately, you can’t even buy milk and cat food out here in the boondocks without some sort of car.
More to the point, The James Cancer Hospital at OSU in Columbus, where I’ve been going, is an 80-mile round trip from our house. So we are now struggling to pay for another used car capable of making the trip. My family has been very supportive, but nobody in this picture is wealthy.
All of which puts me in the awkward position of asking for donations through a website that won’t be updated (although it does have an archive of over 1,500 columns you probably haven’t read yet). Obviously, there’s no point in anyone signing up for an email subscription, but a contribution of whatever amount you wish through the “One Time Contribution” PayPal link on the Subscription page would be deeply appreciated. Checks can be sent to Evan Morris, PO Box 1, Millersport, OH 43046. Please make them out to Evan Morris, not to The Word Detective.
If you have set up an ongoing monthly donation, please consider letting it run for as long as you can. It will help pay the hosting fees and ensure the survival of the Word Detective website. I also expect to incur some large medical bills down the road.
Note: Subscribers who have subscribed within the past few months can have a refund if they ask.
I will do my best to update this post if anything seems worth mentioning.
As I’ve said many times, I have the smartest and nicest readers in the world, and I’m very sorry our little word circus has to end.