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