For Lathan West

Lathan, your up there now, just, out of reach,

West. The delight and soul of Hartford Beach,

You're fishing on that far-up heavenly stream

That flows from the High Country pure and clean.

And all your earthly cares have washed away;

You rest beside still waters all the day.

Would I could join you there, my dear old friend,

And have you teach me how to fish again.

You taught us how to live and laugh and fish,

To seize the moment, not just sit and wish.

And when that moment came for you to fly,

You met it with a calm, unblinking, eye.

Now Hartford Beach will no more be the same.

How could it be without your merry games:

No more guitar nor tinkling mandolin,

No more great moments with your violin,

Nor will we hear your crow, your heee, hee, he

As you crank in the big ones by the stream.

No more your stories in the resort store

With grin and style and people wanting more.

So now we stand in cold November snow

And wonder how we'll face things here below.

You always had a word to lift the gloom,

Or song to brighten any dreary room.

At least we know that back in Esther's arms

You're rockin'. Jubilee is going on!

And all the family there is gathered round

To hear your mandolin and joyful song.

So Lathan, take your well-deserved rest --

Of all the men I've known, perhaps the best.

May we all taste your lesson ringing clear

That life ain't all that sweet without good cheer.

Without great stories and sweet music played,

The joy of life can quickly ebb and fade.

Save me a chair for that great day we meet

To celebrate our Lord's great victory sweet:

When all the friends and family gather round

To make great music letting Praise resound.

Till then, thank you, my sweet-faced faithful friend,

Who never knew old age nor story's end.

GenePinkney (11/12/03)