Cherished: A Portrait, a Photograph, a Memory, a Feeling

Note: This is a guest post for the Cherished Blogfest. It was written by my brother Bruce and I am honored to present it to you.

1976 Mt. Tamalpais

1976 Mt. Tamalpais

I have an oil painting of my late wife Barb from a picture we took in Mt. Tamalpais State Park in 1976. It was painted by my daughter, Sara for Barb’s Memorial Service in 2013.  It shows Barb dancing at the top of a trail in the park in front of a huge tree. She is happy and carefree and that is how I always want to remember her. The trip was a family reunion, our fourth anniversary (June 24), and we spent the Bi-centennial in San Francisco, with dinner on the wharf and fireworks shooting up through the fog!

We were twenty-one years from the onset of symptoms of Huntington’s, but there was no way to know that. Still barely noticeable in 1997 but progressing over the sixteen years to follow, the disease slowly took one freedom or ability after another until she was taken from us on Feb. 15th, 2013.

The details of the loss of her abilities over time cannot be confined to five hundred words, so this post will be about “The Plan.” We suspected the disease would show itself by age 50 or so, as it had with her mother. If it didn’t (there was no test developed yet to let us know), we would continue to work as long as we could. In the meantime, we decided to do the things now that most people planned for their retirement. It would be more expensive because we were less able to afford these trips in our twenties than we would be in our fifties or sixties, but we were younger and could camp and motorcycle… We climbed up into that tree on the trail at Mt. Tam, where six miles of winding road to the southwest and about 1000 ft. lower is the entrance to Muir Woods.

Muir Woods became a favorite place for us. We would not get there often, but on every California reunion there would be a day spent at Mt. Tam, Stinson Beach and Muir Woods. A motorcycle trip in 1977 would find us in Juarez, Carlsbad Caverns and on the beach in Galveston. In 1979 it was Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone, and Estes Park. Later that year we biked to a motorcycle rally in Ruidoso, NM. A 1983 trip to California included a visit to Glacier National Park, this time with a three-year-old Sara along. That trip would be tragically cut short by my father’s untimely death at age 60.

We would take Sara to Washington D.C., Disneyland and the Grand Canyon, and Disneyworld with Grandma, who would also accompany us to Maine, Colonial Williamsburg; other places. There were family reunions in Pittsburgh, Jackson and Vicksburg, MS, Traverse City, MI, and Painted Post, NY, and numerous short trips to Duluth, MN, Galena, IL, and Kansas City. I can recall any of those joyous times when I lose myself in that cherished painting, those memories. 

 

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
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65 Responses to Cherished: A Portrait, a Photograph, a Memory, a Feeling

  1. Jill's Scene says:

    And I feel honoured to be able to read it. Thank-you, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Jill. Also, thanks to Dan for the invitation to the Cherished post and for final layout and posting of it to No Facilities. He was glad to see my cherished object wasn’t a political campaign button. BA

      Liked by 3 people

  2. C.E.Robinson says:

    Dan, this is a beautiful Cherished photo and story from your brother Bruce. How accepting and giving to “speed dial” life and travel to wonderful places to collect memories that would last his and Sara’s lifetime. The incredible portrait by Sara of Barb is a beautiful capture of her exuberance for living. A treasure to remember that. Thank you for sharing Bruce’s story with us. Christine

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thank you Christine. We searched through albums looking for the photo, of which I had a vivid memory. We were assembling a cd of photos for Barb’s memorial service and Sara surprised me with the painting several days before the service. She helped edit the posting perhaps now she will make time to paint more. BA

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Wendy Brydge says:

    If there was ever anything in life worth cherishing, it’s what you’ve presented here, Bruce. Thanks, Dan, for lending your blog for this beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bikerchick57 says:

    Bruce, I am sorry you lost your wife, but glad you were able to enjoy so many trips and have so many wonderful memories of traveling with Barb and your daughter. The painting by your daughter is more than a cherished object. It’s a joyous celebration of a beautiful life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thank you. Sara and I have made two trips back to Mt. Tam/Muir Woods since 2013 and I plan to make at least yearly visits back to the parks. Most thoughts of Barb now are indeed joyous, although … BA

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Cherished? Yes, this certainly takes a top spot in that category. Impressive to take the high road and remember and cherish all those happy memories. Of course, a loving, talented daughter certainly must be a great comfort. Great post that helps remind us all to remember what is really important in life. Thank you. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A sad but wonderful story. My wife and I also love Mt. Tam, Muir Woods, and Stinson Beach. We are in Texas now but still recall the great times there. The painting is lovely. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A picture can hold our feelings in place. Once we look at it, the feelings come tumbling out. Thanks god we have pictures of our loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thank you, Susanne. This picture is special to me because it also reminds me of those many dervishly exciting moments that we never get to catch on any device outside our mind, like a moment at the top of a Ferris Wheel, when a night out with three girls from work turned into a date with Barb.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. loisajay says:

    Beautiful post, Dan. Smiling through the tears.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dan Antion says:

    I want to let people know that Bruce will be replying to your comments. I could try, but I wouldn’t get it right.

    I am so happy to be able to provide a place to publish this story. I’ve heard bits and pieces of this, but this is special, as is the painting. Barb was a wonderful person. I miss her, her sense of humor, her sense of adventure and her spirit. I am so glad you and Sara built these memories over time and have them to remember her by.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. joey says:

    That was a poignant tribute. The photo and the portrait both exude such vibrancy. I am weepy, sad for your great loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thanks, Joey. Don’t be sad. We were together just four months shy of 41 years and I can honestly say that I was consciously happy to be with her nearly every day. Her spirit soars where the wild things are. BA

      Liked by 2 people

  11. This is such a lovely tribute. My sincere condolences to your family. That kind of loss… I’m sure it seems like only yesterday. Hugs all ’round.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a beautiful post and tribute to your love. The painting capture a joyful spirit. Thank you for sharing cherished memories. I’m honored to read them.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Oh what a beautiful tribute to your wife, and your life together. Your foresight to do what you could in your younger years rather than put it off was a blessing I’m sure you both were grateful for everyday. The painting and memories are priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Grateful, indeed. Early on there were opportunities that would have meant serious alterations to, if not abandoning the ‘plan’ that we thankfully declined. But, turning down a teaching job in Merced, Ca. In the mid ’80’s proved to be a very wise decision. Thank you. BA

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Sammy D. says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a loving family member through your memories, photo and precious painting. Muir Woods and Mt. Tam have always felt like hallowed ground and it is so fitting that it became a place of joy for you both. I am sorry that disease took Barb and hope you find comfort sharing her with all if us. I am grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thank you, Sammy. Muir Woods felt immediately like hallowed ground. There may be cathedrals as awe-inspiring as Cathedral Grove, and now Mt. Tam has become one of those places for me and for Sara as well. This year I found a secluded lake (reservoir) as I exited the park to the north. No swimming or fishing, just looking allowed, so it’s a very quiet place. BA

      Liked by 2 people

  15. dweezer19 says:

    I am speechless with feeling. Such a magnificent tribute. Such a beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Damyanti says:

    This is such an exceptional post, on so many levels.
    Wonderful tribute, and such a poignant but positive decision to remember and celebrate the good times. Thankyou for sharing this Dan, this was special.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thank you. As you can imagine from the photo there were many great times in those days. That trip was two weeks and three weekends spent in Northern California and every day was an adventure. The Cherished Blogfest gave me another opportunity to recall those days and I thank you for that.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. This post is commendable. Loved the photograph and the post. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hard to find words that suffice. I feel you made the right and brave decision to go ahead and live your lives and enjoy so many great experiences together while you were able to. But this is so true for everyone but we don’t do it because we think we still have time. And we don’t really know how much time we have.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Peter Nena says:

    A very poignant memory. Sweet souls depart ever so fast. We are always one angel less. May God rest her soul in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Don says:

    Dan, I find this so deeply moving. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Okay, my response went in incomplete. Dan, please edit.
    Bruce, I am deeply moved by these cherished memories of your wife. What a wonderful thing you guys did…travel and have fun as if you were retired. You’ve made some great memories for Sara. The memory of a loved one never fades…this beautiful art that Sara painted is such a tangible memory of her mom. Please encourage her to continue painting. Thanks again for sharing these precious memories with us. Have a wonderful week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thank you. Sara helped me edit the post down to the 500 word limit, even tougher for me than for Dan, and after reading the comments she now believes me when I tell her she should do more painting. BA

      Liked by 2 people

  22. What an incredible tribute to a wonderful marriage. Thank you very much for sharing. We just celebrated our 41st anniversary this year and every day count our blessings that God has given us this time together. I know how fast it goes and you have wonderful memories….very moving!!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Very touching story Dan, I love how he chooses to focus on the good time. The good times and memories are what we need to cherished. The painting is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thank you, J. I looked at some of your photographs. You do excellent work. One of them got me thinking that i am glad we owned better cameras than cars back then. A couple days after that photo was taken, in a borrowed Karman Ghia, we took a side trip to Sula’s Belly Dance Emporium in Walnut Grove so Barb could buy some items to finish a belly dance costume, parts of which are now part of Sara’s. It’s amazing where an image can let your mind go. Thanks again. BA

      Liked by 2 people

  24. Bruce this touched me deeply. Thank you for sharing it through Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. cardamone5 says:

    Please extend my condolences, and compliments on your brother’s loss and beautiful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Robin Kline says:

    Barb was a dear and cherished friend—a blithe spirit and unique presence. I carry so many memories of her, and appreciate Bruce’s sharing this lovely and moving memorial.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Paul says:

    I know it can’t have been easy to write about her, Bruce. It still chokes me up to remember my father, who we lost in 2009, after he suffered a stroke six years earlier that greatly diminished his physical capabilities. I’ll always be grateful for the time we got, though. Thanks for writing this, Bruce. The thought of how this picture brings back so many happy memories made me smile, though. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thanks, Paul. My condolences on the loss of your father. We tried to be conscious of the changes in Barb’s abilities so we could continue doing some things, like Sunday breakfast at, then later on, as takeout from, a favorite diner. I am glad this part of Barb’s story and memories of your Dad brought a smile to you. BA

      Liked by 2 people

  28. Beautiful painting of a beautiful lady. That was such a great thing to do, make lots of memories to hold onto. Thanks for sharing such an emotive and sensitive post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Antion says:

      Thank you, Jean. Our last road trip was to California in 2011 for Sara’s graduate school graduation. We knew, as we planned it that it would be the last long trip we would be able to take, but we never really gave much thought to not doing it. BA

      Liked by 2 people

  29. Beautiful painting. Beautiful story. You and Barb celebrated life to the nth degree. We can all learn from that. Thanks for allowing Dan to share your sadness and joy with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. A beautiful moving tribute from your brother to his wife, Dan. Beautiful painting and of course so many memories of California can only make this post more personable to me. Beautiful story. Peace to your brother and daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. reocochran says:

    The commenters all said excellent and well thought out condolences, sent hugs and love, along with expressing how I felt when I read this story of a well loved woman.
    I was touched, moved to tears and still happy for Barb’s life shared with her husband, Bruce, and daughter, Sara. The painting us absolutely luminous and shows great talent, Sara. Sorry this happened and also, being late to the gathering. ~Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Pingback: School Nights and Absent Friends | No Facilities

  33. A lovely tribute and photo.

    Liked by 1 person

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