Poems by Laurel Hessing
Read at memorial services on the commons of Free Acres, New Jersey
For sisters Betty, Jane, and Roxane Eberlein
Betty Eberlein Brown
Free Acres, October 10, 1982

For Betty

Birds were her children and they were her friends
Coming from the distant ends
Of the earth to reach her garden fair
Where she heard opera from her chair
Petted her cats and lived in peace
Marking spring by flights of geese
She did not hear well, had limited sight
But she knew what was just and what was right
She had the vision to pick the rare
To cherish the beautiful, pure and fair
And found these treasures not with the elite
But in the garden at her feet
In the song of birds, in the light filtered through
The trees she loved, in morning dew
In spring flowers and autumn seeds
In shining stars and lowly weeds

She had good fortune for she loved living
Wasn’t needy, she preferred giving
And when trains called to Betty Brown
She smiled in her garden and turned them down

The birds fly south, the flowers fade
As if condolences were paid
To the gentle lady in the green eye shade
But Betty was part of Free Acres life
As a child growing up, as Eddy Brown’s wife
As Jane’s dear sister; as neighbor and friend
We won’t see her walking round the bend
Of Apple tree Row from the senior’s bus
But she will still come back to us
As long as Free Acres legends last
Though now she belongs to our past
She’s part of Free Acres and will be here
The kindly lady who seemed to appear
From a quieter time, a gentler year

Jane Eberlein Hall
Free Acres, October 10, 1982

For Jane

She did not long for worldly things,
money things, Jane Hall
She’d tell us now to strive for peace,
for love and warmth for all
But who will show the babies flowers
and who’ll prune wild trees
Who will plant for others;
for humming birds and bees?
She said “George asked about the morning glories.
He missed them quite a bit
I’ll plant them by the tennis court where he likes to sit”
She gathered leaves near meadow trees;
gaily raked them up
But Jane was special guardian of the buttercup

We can plant blue morning glories by the tennis court
Because the one who thought of us had her life cut short
We can always keep the buttercups, let them live again
Not mow until their petals fall let them live for Jane
But if her courage and zest for life and uncomplaining ways
Lead us like a golden light through all of our days
If we let these lead like shining stars
that break the dark till dawn
Love nature and help others more,
Janey will live on

But who will show the babies flowers
and who’ll prune wild trees
Who will plant for others
and for humming birds and bees?
And can’t you somehow hear
Jane’s voice telling you and me
“Just keep some buttercups next spring
near the sycamore tree
Dear friends, leave some buttercups
and remember me”

Roxane Eberlein
Free Acres, June 17, 1990

A Light in the Woods

At night, walking paths I could walk blind
Only a Free Acreite can find
While a stranger might not know it's near
For me the cottage needn't appear
To know it is there and hold it dear
While walking my dog on Appletree Row
I knew Roxane had returned from the glow
The welcoming magic of a window lit
Where honeysucke says "stop a bit"
And it made me happy just to see
When the cottage light shed light on me.

Decades melt behind that line of lacing branches
tree and vine and sheltered there by nature's skill
Lies the place where time stands still.
For seven decades it has stood
A little house in a wild wood
The power of the place one can't explain
It's been a magnet again and again
Whose magic healing drew three souls
From other cities, other goals,
Other places on fortune's wheel
I do think it had power to heal. A magic power of healing pain
Up to last summer when the little light burned
I knew it meant Roxane had returned
I knew next morning we'd take a walk
Before I went to work we'd talk
So much news; So much to say As if she'd never been away
It's impossible to explain
Light shines on us who here remain and love what they loved,
Are drawn by the same. Woods and flowers, path and season
Impossible to explain or reason
Light is what it's all about. It heals and never will go out

Roxane, Betty and Jane Hall, You the brightest lights of all
Will shine for my grandchildren to see
As long as there is light in me.