Family Tributes

Requiem for My Brother

In better days we tried to read by the flickering light
of fireflies trapped in jelly jars,
emitting barely enough lumens to guide us through the night.
Yet we persisted still, deciphering one illuminated word at a time.
We were younger then and challenged by the impractical.

In less than better days we traded barbed-wire words
prickling skin too thin, erecting see-through barriers, yet barriers all the same.

Most days were the better days and special moments flickered
in our lives, guiding us through our nights as we deciphered
one illuminated hour at a time.
We were challenged, as always, by the impractical.

And now the barriers are downed but, too, the light has dimmed.

October, 1998


Up from Texas a young man
Ventured to a northern town
To find a new beginning.
There were times when life would
Not allow his talents to emerge.
Courage and family made him strong.

From humble beginnings
Came a quiet woman who
Also sought a new beginning.
Life for her had not been easy
But hope was springing eternal
For a better way.
Courage and family made her strong.

We here have all drawn on their
Strengths and their gifts of
Love and courage and
We are the beneficiaries of
Their desire for a better life.

They gave us love, intelligence,
talents, strength, vision and an
appreciation of beauty.

We now have those gifts to give.

Family Reunion, July 10-12, 1998

A Song in the Key of E
(for E. Lileah Furgerson Harris on the occasion of her 80th birthday)

Life is full of complexities, it seems,
Composed of variations on a single theme.
A fugue of sorts, like Bach’s classical score,
Or Ravel’s Bolero—could its crescendo pulse more?

But the best things in life are really quite simple,
Symphonic movements, yet basic, elemental.

Think of the myriad of colors we see—
All derived from red, blue & yellow—just 3.
And the plethora of words we use to describe
The awesome experience of being alive—
That crazy etymological mix
Is derived from a small set of characters—26.

And in the realm of intricate musical chords,
The Chromatic Scale is master and Lord.
All other chords and scales from it take their cue,
But it has only 12 notes—what a coup!

So the structure of life is really quite simple,
Basic designs, small numbers, all very elemental.

All this reminds me of your 12 melodies,
Compositions of seemingly elaborate themes.
But simple in structure, derived from just 2
And each a reflection of the lyrics of you.

They’re smart and focused, I see that in you.
They’re kind and compassionate, that’s also your hue.
And funny—my God, they’re a comedic bunch—
They got that from you, I have a hunch.

And they all have music ingrained in their riffs—
Who else but you could have bequeathed these wonderful gifts?
Some are sharp and some flat (they know who they are),
But together their improvisation is superior by far.

So this birthday is more than a celebration of birth,
It celebrates your life-long song on this earth.
And if I could work Russian into this review,
It would be to say S dnem rozhdeniya, Happy Birthday to you.

Your loving sister, Rebecca Sloan 2/23/11

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