Jan. 21, 2011
by Kathryn Beckett
Surrounded by 4 friends (plus me and much love), my father Barry passed away on Friday January 21 at 4:05 pm from lung cancer at the age of 62. He was diagnosed in July of 2007 and given six months to live, yet he proved the doctor’s timeline wrong again and again. My father worked so hard to stay alive and endure the onslaught of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and I am so grateful to have been given so many years beyond the doctor’s diagnosis to be with my dad. Despite all of the treatments, Dad had an amazing force of will to live and a great deal of energy and enthusiasm for life. Barry was the best father a child could have ever asked for.
On the evening of January 20th, Dad’s beloved close friends arrived from his favorite spot in the world: Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that was founded by Meher Baba. Dad was able to see that they arrived and heard their voices. He had been looking forward to and waiting for Jeff Wolverton and Nan Wicker to visit and I believe their arrival helped him to let go because he soon slipped into a peaceful sleep and was finally able to rest. We watched over him and within the next 20+ hours we noticed that his breathing began to change. At last he began to be free of the pain and suffering of being in his body. His breathing became very shallow and I counted the seconds between breaths and when it reached 22 seconds, I knew he was near the very the end of his life. As he wished, I repeated the Lord’s name to him with each breath, as the group was reciting Meher Baba’s prayers. Dad’s last breath coincided with the very last word of the Master’s Prayer at the end of the phrase “The only One worthy of worship.” It was a great relief to witness as he was released at last from the battle and burden he had so bravely carried. We then began to sing devotional songs that he loved with his favorite performers Jeff and Nan singing and playing guitar starting with “The Healing Song,” songs by Kirtana, 7 Names of God, and then played his favorite Christian music on the stereo: “Breathe” by Kathryn Scott, “Above All” by Michael W. Smith, and “Draw Me Close to You” by Michael W. Smith; sending Dad off Baba’s arms with prayers, music, and much love.
Dad was a tireless lover of God and humanity, and his top priority was to serve his fellow man. He would say that he “never wanted to come to the party empty-handed,” and would share the bounty of his loving soul in many ways, namely in the form of gifts from his garden (including the legendary, best tasting homegrown tomatoes that he poured his love into, meyer lemons, peppers, squash, etc.), wonderful music that he sought after, and also ideas, tips, insights, and more. He was a connoisseur of beauty, art, and music, including sacred devotional music that reflected the fervor in his heart. He leaves behind a wide cross-section of great friends. Dad had a playfully irreverent sense of humor, a willingness to share his direct perspective, and was a naturally entertaining companion for any occasion. Few things in life gave him greater joy than making people laugh and he would say that he felt he had done his duty when he brought joy and delight to the faces of those he loved. The world will surely miss his generosity and contagious enthusiasm for life.
Aside from thanking Dad’s many friends and family, I would like to thank Jeff Wolverton & Nan Wicker, Cynthia Shephard, the Talbot family, and especially Mr. Richard Rarrick who dropped all of his plans to travel to Sacramento, CA (just as he was past security and ready to fly back to Myrtle Beach, SC) to answer my cry for help and put his life on hold. Richard’s endless energy, concern, and vigilance in caring for my Dad and ardent pains to ensure that Barry received the best care at our disposal was a God-send and I will always be grateful to this man. Richard has become like family to me and his natural sense to serve and help with an absolutely genuine desire to do his best has humbled me and gave me a greater understanding of love in action.
We had an impromptu memorial at Dad’s home just 2 hours after he passed in Carmichael, CA, And a delightful memorial was held on Sunday January 23 at the Talbots’ house in Moraga with the larger Northern California Baba group. I plan to have one last gathering sometime in February for those who did not have a chance to remember him. I would very much appreciate any stories/memories, and photos you have of Barry. [Write Kathryn at love2baba (at) yahoo.com.]
[Note from Kendra: Barry was fortunate to have attended the 1969 Darshan of Avatar Meher Baba. He shared some of his memories of that great event in the Summer 2010 issue of Glow International.]