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The crazy welter and shades
Of the cascade of days into decades:
The sheltering towns; hopes and fears;
Fields of work; achievements and tears,
Merge down trails softly blending
Into misty history; a visceral rending,
Yet lending gladness to the grateful heart.
Treading the twisting paths, the part
Others played is clear: the braid tightens
Again the unity that brightened
The voyage with friends, family and wives
On the river of our lives.

The spirited exchange of views
Floated renews: the nuggets of family news;
Ideas or ideals rendered and chewed
Over long after partaking of food;
The heady entertainment libations
In celebration of each other; conversations;
Laughter; cards; sports; the wry slip
Into sly comeuppance and gamesmanship.

The missing are memorialized, unable
To pull up a chair at the table;
No longer holding up their end
As a loyal, dependable friend
Or sister or brother; glow now dimmed
And song unheard; once an audible wind
That could whisper, hum quietly or shout;
No longer tenderly or brusquely reaching out.

Absence tweaks a chord down deep,
Strummed by those who have fallen asleep
Or who have become too distant
To dole out nick-of-time subsistence:
A smile or measure of affection;
Lessons of wisdom, advice or correction
That snatched the tentative white flag
Of despair before it reached the crags
Of the crumbling ramparts of weakening will,
Resulting in fresh hope instilled.

Their large figures have upper rank
In the vaults of our existential bank,
Defying cords weakened by death's cold stare;
Exhaustion or crossroads veering elsewhere.

How we fared or failed doesn't loom
As large in our inevitable scatter;
What remains leaves only room
For vestiges of love, the nub of the matter.