From Barry's wife Justine:
Hello Jay, My sister Paula wrote the eulogy after a group of us spent some time talking on Sunday evening. As you can see, she is a gifted writer and completely captured Barry's spirit. It would be wonderful if you could share the eulogy with anyone who would appreciate it. And, you have my permission to add the photo you mentioned of Barry to the memory tree. Thank you, what a nice way to honor his memory. His death was very sudden and here at home we are still stunned. Thank you again, Justine
and now Paula's words:
This past summer, Justine and a few of us listened with our customary mix of bemusement and awe as Barry described the itinerary he had planned for his British adventure, which was about to begin in an hour or so. First heíd stop at a tavern in Gloucester, Mass., where heíd enjoy a few hours of music-making with friends - including one, as luck would have it, who had to head to Boston after the session and could give Barry a lift. Once in Boston, at a bus stop somewhere near Chinatown (he couldnít say exactly where - but really: how hard could it be to find a bus stop?) he would board a 2 a.m. coach to New York. He hoped to arrive just in time to locate the apartment of a friend, crash on the couch for a few hours, shower, and set out for JFK airport. (He hadnít thought about exactly how heíd get to JFK, but really: how hard could it be to get yourself to an airport?) His evening flight would take him to London, where heíd spend several days doing what he so loved to do - singing, performing, spending time with friends, learning some new songs, making some new friends, singing some more. After England, he was thinking heíd like to get over to Wales (although, as he explained, flights and hotels and other exact details of this leg of the trip were things he hadnít entirely worked out yet). And then in Wales, he thought it would be really great to get to travel around that country. Somehow. After that, heíd get back home.
And get back home he did.
Itís not that Barry didnít know how to plan: from a roofing company created from scratch to an addition to the house designed and built by hand; from compost-fed vegetable gardens planted, nurtured and harvested, to an extensive library of sea shanties, meticulously researched and catalogued, he demonstrated over and again the skill and determination to set his sights on a goal and move step by step to its completion. But in other parts of his life, Barry understood something that many of us never learn: that the destination isnít always the most important thing. More often than not, itís the journey that matters.
Barry had that rare and enviable gift: he knew how to immerse himself completely in every minute of the journey. He must have gotten his indomitable spirit from his mother Betty, who taught him by example to be one-of-a-kind, and proud of it. And his self-confidence was undoubtedly due in large part to Cheryl, whose lifelong love and devotion must have made Barry feel like the most cherished big brother on earth. Their large and loving extended family taught him and his brothers to laugh long and to laugh hard, often at themselves. When Barry laughed, he made everyone want to laugh along with him.
But his greatest skill was the ability to find happiness. His knack for that led him right to Justine, the love of his life, his soulmate, the partner with whom he belted out songs on their very first date, and harmonized forever after.
When he and Justine got married in 1986, Barry also became part of the Donovan family. You could say that we suppress our emotions. He tried his best, but reining in that much effusiveness defies the laws of nature. He was the groom who, despite a valiant effort, couldnít help but cry when he delivered his own wedding vows; he was the uncle who cried at school plays, and dashed to the store for a cake to celebrate a first menstrual period. He brought music and madness, goofiness and gladness to our stiff upper lips. The man could make anyone smile.
And the constant, irrepressible smile at the center of his universe and Justineís was still to come. Natalie and Gabriel brought to them both a lifelong joy and pride and a boundless love that even Barry couldnít have imagined possible. His spirit, his intelligence, his curiosity, his love of things large - the ocean, the world of music, the desire to make the wide world a better place, and his corner of it a happier, funnier one - these are just some of the qualities that made Barry Barry, and that live on in Natalie and Gabriel.
At age 12, when Gabe first heard the news that after an excruciating wait, Barry was to receive the life-saving liver donation that everyone had been anxiously awaiting, his first reaction was relief -- but his first words were, "I hate that!" The adults looked at him, puzzled, until he said, "You donít even get to thank the family."
Gabe, you are your fatherís son.
Last night, after a grueling but beautiful four hours of receiving countless friends and relatives whoíd come to pay their respects, Justine gathered around the kitchen table with a few family and friends, reminiscing about Barry and, inevitably, telling stories that had us all laughing uproariously. Natalie and Gabe, wrecked by their grief, had collapsed into bed, and someone went up to ask Natalie if the noise and laughter felt inappropriate or distressing. "Not at all," she said. "Iím just so glad to hear my mom laughing."
Natalie, you are your fatherís daughter.
His journey isnít over. The spirit, the love, the laughter, the voice touched all of us, and a little of his irrespressible joy marches on in everyone here. Godspeed, Barry.