Tim Garthwaite Memorial

Tim Garthwaite Memorial

Growing up in Berkeley, Tim was the closest thing I had to a brother. At his memorial last Saturday, I read a poem…that I wrote. Turns out, poetry is hard. Making the rhymes powerful and not trivial was a challenge.

Tim was a singer and guitar player. He loved the blues and folk music. His guitar teacher said: “Play how you feel.” I included a number of Tim’s favorite songs that we all loved and sang often.

Here is a video of my reading with the text below. We ended with a cheer from Troop 23 that Tim and I, and his brother David all loved. What better way to say “Good-bye?” I miss him so.

Key to the poem:

Miss Watts: Despised first-grade teacher

Ib Harris: Beloved first therapist

Blaire, Miles, and Wyatt: grandchildren

Hey Dear Tim

Your Childhood

From this valley they say you are leaving

We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile

All day long, Miss Watts gave you grief

It takes a worried man

to sing a worried song

So, into therapy you went as a young man,

with hopes you could become unbent.

You told me therapy was really cool

I’d be a fool if I didn’t see the amazing Ib.

So we analyzed our dreams

Mostly revealing sexual themes.

Oh no, what would my mother say?

Stay away from that Garthwaite boy.

Fortunately, that didn’t work

Before I even could drive

You said the blues and therapy

Will make me thrive

The good news is, my mentor Tim,

That old Miss Watts did not win.

Middle finger raised you went through life

We were so amazed those of us who loved you so.

As your friend from up the street,

I am so sad

Never again to greet you,

The brother I never had

I was standing by my window
On one cold and cloudy day
When I saw that hearse come rolling
For to carry Tim away

Your Adulthood

If you’re white you’re all right.

If you’re brown well hang around

But if you’re black, oh brother

get back, get back, get back

You learned from the masters:

Josh White, Rod Sterling – sing how you feel

David Stewart, Work With Me Annie, The Staple Singers

They all taught you how to make it real

You had two talented sibs,

Terry wrote and David played bass

In a hot young band – that cooked

Clearly first place in our hearts

When you three played together,

Simply, nothing better

You worked with kids
who were on parole
Your spirit, and humor
Made them whole, once more.

I asked why you became a PO
Always the smart ass,
You said, alas, because I had only one leg
I said “Tim can’t you be serious
You suddenly got delirious:

The phosphorous flashed in her seaweed hair


I looked again –

me mother wasn’t there


Her voice came echoing out of the night
”

To hell with the keeper of the Eddystone Light”
Oh, yo ho ho, the wind blows free


Oh, for the life on the rolling sea

Your Elderhood

You were my sunshine, my only sunshine


You made me happy when skies were gray

Who ever heard of a probation officer
Doing yoga, writing poetry, and arranging flowers?
No one in the Marin County Juvenile department
Except your kids said you had – magical powers

Oh, the Camp Codor bunch
is the truest and the best
They keep things going
and they never take a rest

God how we loved Troup 23
We slept on the ground,
At Lake of the Woods,
and we became men, you and me.

No stinkin’ badges, these free-form scouts
Lovin’ them mountains is what it was all about

Amazing grace
: How sweet the sound


That saved a wretch like Tim


He once was lost, but now he’s found


We were blind, but now I see him

I don’t cry because
death is near,
It’s those joyful memories
year after year.

Your Legacy

Let the Midnight Special shine a light on Tim


Let the Midnight Special

shine its ever-lovin’ light on Tim

On the guitar, you playing the blues
Music drifting into the great beyond,
Your chords, heard from afar
With unbreakable ties bonds us together

We’re all just links in a chain.
Soon in the ether – we will remain, but…
One last thing I just want to say

To Olivia, Miles, and Wyatt on their way.

You may, someday, have children of your own
Tell them about the great grandfather
they should’ve known and loved
His mother danced
his father played violin.
His name was Tim.

A humanist, a musician, a poet,
Who kept the family tradition alive
In you there is some of him.
His name was Tim.

END: Cheer for Troop 23

Cheer for Troop 23
23 will win.

Cheer to the finish,
Never give in
Rah, rah, rah
You do your best boys
We’ll do the rest, boys,

Cheer for Troop 23,
Rah, rah.

Good News on the Photography Front

My photo: “The Unhappy Jazz Fan” won First Place in photography in the Coastal Arts League current show (June 18 – July 24). Check out the show at:

300 Main Street, Half Moon Bay

New Religion

A few weeks ago I saw the beginnings of a new religion over at Half Moon Bay. They worship St. Drone:

5 thoughts on “Tim Garthwaite Memorial

  1. Michael C. Joyce says:

    Remembering Tim as the older kid who always was friendly and fun for us younger boys.

    The loss of a treasured friend soften by deep gratitude for his friendship reflecting in your poem!

  2. Gale Johnson Randall says:

    I remember Tim well. Our neighbor & a nice fellow. Enjoyed seeing him again at a hillside reunion.

  3. Lil Schaller says:

    So sad to hear of Tim’s passing! You had some wonderful times together and I certainly thank you for the few visits you graced me with together.

  4. Carrie Lynn Beckstrom says:

    That is such a touching, creative, personal way to honor your dear friend! Thank you so much for sharing, Rick. I hoped that helped with your own healing process.

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