This blog was supposed to be about art, and yet life keeps intruding. I flew back to Chicago on October 24 to face the shocking and painful news that my father unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. Here is a picture of my parents relaxing at a late-night art performance, in happier times.
My sister Missy and I made the flower arrangements for the service ourselves. These are surrounding his urn. Below is an excerpt from the eulogy I wrote for his service, which sums up how I feel:
“Several days ago, I received the shocking phone call that no one ever wants to get, telling me to get on a plane immediately and come home, because someone I loved deeply was gone.
Much of the pain of my father’s passing comes from how early and suddenly he was taken from us. He did not have the chance to grow old with my mother, travel to Europe like we planned, or even meet his future grandchildren. He had been looking forward to retirement for as long as I can remember, and he had a lot of exploring planned. Because he will not be able to fulfill those plans, my family and I have decided that as I continue on my travels, I will take his ashes with me, and I will scatter them in all of the places that he would have liked to go and experience for himself. And who knows what new realms of space and time he is experiencing now! I would like to think that he is off on a new adventure, greeting whatever mysteries are waiting for us with his characteristic curiosity and open mind.
I know my dad is physically gone, and his absence leaves a hole in my life, and in the lives of all who knew him. But underneath the pain is the very real feeling that he is still living inside of me. My sisters told me they feel the same way. Being the science-fiction lover that he was, I told my mom, he’s like Obi Wan Kenobi now. As in, “If you strike him down, he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” He is Obi Bob Kenobi.
My father was simply an amazing man, always up for anything, so patient, so supportive, so proud of me and my sisters. I live a pretty alternative artistic lifestyle that some parents might worry about or not approve of. But I have never felt anything but acceptance, support and genuine pride from my father. He was so intelligent, so generous, such a friend to my friends, so accepting of everyone, curious and inquisitive and willing to engage anyone he met, on any subject. He instilled in my family the exquisite gift of non-judgment, as he taught us young, and continued to show us by his example, that all people are created equal and all deserve kindness and respect. He loved peace. I think it simply seemed to him the most logical way for people to live together.
Even in the midst of tragedy, it is possible to count blessings. I feel so lucky that I was born into this family, so blessed to have Bob Barcus as my father, and I am just overwhelmed by all the love I have felt from my family and all of my friends. I want to sincerely thank everyone for the non-stop parade of prayers and food and assistance that has been so generously given to me and my family in this time of need. I am also moved by the steady and true bond between me and my sisters and mother, that has allowed us to make this last week as good as it could possibly be. I think we have laughed as much as we have cried, and trust me, we have cried A LOT. So many people have asked me, “What can I do for you?”. I have an idea what we can all do for each other. Appreciate the life we have. Let the people you love know how you feel, express it freely and often, and try to be at peace will all who surround you. Because in the end, only love matters. My father taught me that.”