My name is John Hayes, and I recently received the following sad news which I would like to post for those who have noticed Barbara’s absence from these pages:
“Alas, your fears are justified. Barbara died in early September (2018) from complications of surgery. . . She had survived radiation for tumors behind her eyes, and her sight had improved. She was in the middle of chemotherapy. Evidently, however, her cognition and balance led to a fall and immediate hip surgery for the break. She aspirated during surgery.”
I “met” Barbara online in 2012 while reading her book, The Gandy Dancer & Other Short Stories. We shared a love of art and writing, and over the next half-dozen years our email correspondence would grow to ¾’s of a million words.
From the beginning it was obvious that Barbara was special. Her observations and insights, her paintings and drawings, her bohemian life as an artist – in so many ways Barbara defied the norm and approached greatness.
In 2013 I described Barbara’s life in a blog as:
- A life lived on the edge where the risks are greater but the rewards are priceless
- A life spent saying ‘no’ to compromise and ‘yes’ to distant horizons
- A life bristling with the ‘courage to be’ and practiced in the art of joyful engagement
“If ever there were a biography as yet unwritten I would love to read,” I noted in that same blog, “it would be Barbara’s.” And toward that end I urged her many times to sketch her life in words, as well as to let me photograph and document her canvases. An artist of her caliber should not be forgotten.
“The only impulse I’ve had is to try and organize and solidify my papers and work, to make it easier on historians to keep alive, and still have some control over what gets selected out. Whoosh. I want some legacy, I think about it.”
– Barbara Sparhawk
And yet, two months after Barbara died her body still lay unclaimed in a morgue in Carmel, California. I do not know if the situation has since been resolved.
If anyone has more information or thoughts they would like to share, please do.
“So we shall have at it and write for the sake of, and see where it leadeth and be happy and full in our souls from the splendours of the language, shall we not.”
– Barbara Sparhawk