(Birthdays, Awards, Losses, Celebrations of Life . . . )

  • I have been writing poems to family members and friends who have passed away, sometimes for their Memorial Services, other times as a more private dialogue between souls.  I will try to speak of any losses in your own life, including Obituary texts, in your struggle to find words.



Thoughts for Your Memorial Service  (Example Celebration of Life)

It’s tough being a Grandma (as some here know),

when your own wearies of being wife and mother

take on a new dimension of watching your children

grow into their own selves, gaining from you, yet

still on their own, differing journeys from yours.

in a world ever and never changing both too fast

and not fast enough to “protect us from all harm.”


Last evening I fished for you, felt you standing

behind Grampa Clayton in the glowing dusk

as sunset filled the lake and sky and dissolved

into the darkening moment in time to go home

with a valuable catch.  You are free to be anywhere

now, while all the rest of your extended family

still must rely on the old reliable telephone

and telepathy, when we can’t be in each others’ arms. 

Even your last plane ride was an accomplishment

to be sure, an amazing gift of your persevering

energy and love for the whole of your brood.


Just so, your sojourn/journey here on Earth

continues in every step and laugh and cry

that your children, grand, and great, make

each day.  We gather, now, and each time hence,

to commune with your great spirit of elementary love.

Trust, in the Dance  (Example of Awards Poetry: Volunteering)

Sometimes there are just things that need

to be done; and it is never finished, this

saying yes in your heart before, during and

even if only after you become part of some-

thing, someone else’s life in a way that is

essential to our mutual survival.


If you have a boat, there is always

a flood, if you can hear it through

the din of telepathy, before anyone would think

to ask.  The third basic instinct, ahead of

fight or flight, help.


And sometimes it isn’t life and death,

Sometimes it’s just life and life.  And life is

precious, whenever we know it, and time

is a thing that we have to give only

so long as we are alive.  Some people go

a long way on their own before we see


that their need is our need,

only we are on the outside

until someone asks, or we

ask, or we act even before

thinking to ask.


You can carry someone in your arms.

What else can you do?

There is always that question,

but to act on it is a leap across the stage

into a  stranger’s arms, your own.

The Inner Game (To Sig)  (Example of Memorial)

As children, even in the womb, we discover Loss.

It helps make every “Find” more precious, fragile,

slippery minnow in the water, and so we have family

and cherish friends, and mourn every loss, treasure

every wonderful thing they got to bring into Life,

and take what Life gives, each “One Day At a Time.”


First we fear, then are angry at, finally accepting

its cruel (indifferent) inevitability, maybe coming

to terms with – another closet filling with clothes

never worn, accumulating until there is no room –

where to find a place for all this sorrow?

In every bird call, flash of color, find Sig there.


The impact of string, sweet spot, and tennis ball,

and the sound that then follows: ball hitting net

(the second rule of tennis), ball hitting whatever

surface lying on the other side of the net, from

hardcourt, to clay, to grass, and hardcourt again.

Sure the 500’s matter, 250’s, even Morocco!  Yes,


you made it with Diane to Houston, the U. S. Open,

but, NOT to Indian Wells or Monte Carlo with me.

Not to worry; when I go, I will buy an extra ticket.

But all of us who have counted you close will miss

hearing your voice, watching you demonstrate that

nine-step approach and recovery from, just keeping

the ball in play.