In Memory of Barbara
1966 ~ May 18, 2001
The world was all before
Where to choose her place of rest
And Providence her guide
Hopeful heart with wandering steps and slow
to Sanctuary took her solitary way.
(Paraphrased by Sandra Estes)
With kindness and a smile you can lead an elephant by a thread.
»» Add your tribute to Barbara
Barbara, shown in the middle of this picture, was a friend to each elephant at the Sanctuary.
She will be greatly missed by them, and her humans Carol, Scott, Joanna and Jennifer
Barbara loved the high hills of the Sanctuary...and on such a hill she now rests in peace.
On a warm spring day, Barbara enjoyed tender grass on the edge of the pond.
Don't mourn my passing,
Stand beneath the trees
you've chosen for me .
Close your eyes
and hear the sigh of wind
through the leaves.
Know that I am here ,
close to you and content.
Hands gently caressing me,
I left that frail body
with dignity and grace .
Surrounded by loving family.
Don't mourn my passing ,
Rejoice for I am truly free .
Laura Linklater ~ May 2004
Jac ~ May 2004
Barbara touched all who were fortunate enough to meet her. Even those who only viewed her on the Sanctuary's EleCam were affected by something most could not explain. She had a presence, an energy, a powerfully wise being disguised in a body so frail.
When Barbara arrived at the Sanctuary five years ago, doctors predicted a short tenure. She immediately surprised everyone and set out to explore every inch of Sanctuary property. At the time of Barbara's arrival there was only a forty-acre pasture for the elephants. The Sanctuary land beyond the "40" was not fenced and was considered off limits. It was a matter of days until Barbara's insistence to go beyond the fence was more than Carol and Scott could resist. So an official "elephant watch" schedule was implemented.
Each morning, a keeper would accompany Barbara beyond the gate into the unfenced habitat which comprised several thousand acres surrounding the Sanctuary. Eight hundred acres of this habitat was leased by the Sanctuary as a buffer zone to protect the elephants from human activity such as recreational vehicles and hunting. Beyond that was several thousand acres of undeveloped timber land owned by Champion International Paper Company, an elephant's paradise.
Interns were recruited to monitor Barbara's whereabouts and activity. Field notes where kept of what Barbara ate, when and where she slept, and where her wandering led her. We soon learned there was a pattern to her movement. Each morning Barbara would be impatiently pacing, ready to pass through the gate and immerse herself in the lush habitat. Like clock work and with no coaxing by her caretakers, she returned each evening at dusk. The gate was closed and locked behind her until the next morning. You might think that she would resist coming back to the barn but that was simply not the case. Of course, if she had wanted to stay out all night there would have been several willing care takers volunteering for the overnight watch adventure. Regardless, Barbara always chose to return home.
As the seasons passed, we discovered that Barbara's movement patterns also varied with the seasons. After months of plotting, her movements were so predictable that close supervision was not necessary. We could track her with cameras and by the records that were kept. All were quite comfortable with the pattern that had developed elephants go outside the "40" in the morning and come back inside the "40" at night. Barbara had started sleeping outside all night. Although her nights were restricted to the "40", that seemed to be acceptable to her. Barbara thrived in her environment. She immersed herself and became apart of it. Her oneness with nature was holy. At no time during the following four years of her arrival did Barbara migrate beyond the Sanctuary's invisible property line. Until that day in April 2000.
Perhaps we will never know what possessed Barbara to change her pattern. Many surmised, but only Barbara knows why one day while casually grazing along "Barbie's wash", she penetrated the invisible property line. She did not make a break for it, or appear to be running away; she was simply grazing and migrating the way elephants were designed to do. Young tufts of bamboo were the tempting morsels that kept her moving forward and adventure awaited her. Where her journey lead her was through Sanctuary property, through the leased property and then through hundreds of acres of forest. Scott quickly realized that Barbara was not in her normal location and set out to find her. He had become quite versed in tracking and was sure she was close since her footprints ambled, sometimes in lazy circles, where she was savoring the grasses. But Barbara apparently got the exploration bug and she exited the forest to find herself face to face with a neighbor's house. By Dexter's account, the neighbor Barbara visited, he saw her calmly walking around on his property. Keep in mind that Dexter's house was set up against the forest so it appeared to be no more out of place than a wandering elephant.
Dexter and Barbara met. Dexter has no idea what a lucky person he is. Some say he is lucky she did not hurt him, but that is not why he was lucky. Barbara is wise beyond human comprehension and had no intention of doing him harm. Somehow Dexter sensed this and simply chained her to a tree as Scott came into the clearing. Even though we know how good natured Barbara is, it was still a cause for near panic when Scott saw a stranger securing Barbara to a tree. This was the beginning of Barbara's determination to visit every neighbor beyond the woods. And the beginning of the construction of a corral to fence in the entire Sanctuary property all 222 acres.
For the next several months Barbara was incorrigible. She was determined to get off grounds. Due to the new fence construction, areas of fence would be temporary constructed with hot wire. She was observed dropping trees across the hot wire to down the fence and allow her passage. She could hear if the hot wire was turned off even for a minute which was necessary during construction. Needless to say. Barbara's determination to travel was becoming a hardship for her keepers. Without question, the Sanctuary would be cited if Barbara succeeded at her attempts to leave grounds again. She did not give her keepers a moment's rest and left them with no other choice but to confine her to the night yard. This eight acre pasture was the only elephant-proof corral. Barbara was quite irritated at being confined and her keepers were heart-broken. Barbara thrived in the habitat, and confining her to an eight acre yard seemed to verge on cruelty. As much time as possible was spent outside the night yard under supervision, but Barbara's desire to explore beyond was so strong it was difficult to keep her on Sanctuary ground even under direct supervision. Finally the new fence was complete and Barbara was free again.
Now Barbara could explore 222 acres with no fear of breaching the boundary. This allowed her caretakers to relax. At first Barbara would stand at the perimeter of the new fence and stare beyond, but after a few days she redirected her attention to the habitat within. She soon resumed her past behavior of utilizing all of the habitat available to her. Her joy of freedom was obvious to anyone who was blessed enough to see her set out on her day's journey.
But over the past few months things changed. Barbara no longer suffered from the abdominal pain that plagued her when she first arrived, but now she was beginning to form edemas. First on her belly, then her face, and later on her legs. Her wanderings were hampered by the edema which initially would improve almost immediately when she was given a remedy. But after awhile the remedies that had proved successful in the past either did not make a difference or would relieve the edema in one place, only to have it surface somewhere else. Barbara's resolve started to dissolve.
Barbara's physically difficult times were emotional taxing times for her caretakers. Not a moment went by, day or night, when Barbara's condition and care was not a priority. Caretakers kept a constant vigil. During the day cameras were focused on her so that keepers could monitor and document her activity. At night she chose to sleep in the barn with a caretaker sleeping in the adjacent stall. Everyone knew that Barbara's condition was deteriorating. All we could do was observe while the veterinarian continued to prescribe remedies for her symptoms. To add to our concern, Barbara stopped lying down to sleep. The naps that she took standing up were not enough to rest her fragile body. She soon showed signs of fatigue. Her only relief was to lean up against the wall of the barn to sleep.
Three weeks ago keepers started documenting unusual behavior between Barbara and the other elephants. Barbara's slowly debilitating health had made it almost impossible for her to wander as she had done from the first day of her arrival. She was now spending all of her time in the open pasture area and tree line, in proximity to the other elephants. What was so unusual was how the other elephants gravitated to her. They would surround her, caressing and stroking her body for hours. It was the most endearing interactions the keepers had ever experienced. Always there would be at least two elephants standing on either side of her. On several occasions Jenny left the constant companionship of Shirley to spend a few hours with Barbara. Tarra was even observed sleeping next to Barbara as she grazed. It is very rare for Tarra to nap during the day. Barbara's keepers watched this behavior with mixed emotions; concern and hopefulness. All prayed that Barbara was on the road to recovery and as result was spending more time with her family.
On May 18, at 6 p.m. after her evening feeding, Barbara went down on the barn floor. Carol, Scott and Joanna were all there with her. Sissy and Winkie were in an adjacent stall, and Tarra, Jenny, Bunny and Shirley were outside, close to the barn. Being well versed in hoisting Barbara, her keepers wasted no time preparing to hoist her to her feet. They attached her harness and the hoist and attempted to raise her. But this time something was different. Barbara did not assist in any way. In the past, the hoist would get her body in place and then Barbara would do the rest; but not this time. Barbara was lucid, calm, and resigned to not get up. She did not fight, kick, or in any way struggle. She remained relaxed and calm. After two attempts to raise Barbara, Carol looked into Barbara's eyes and said, "She wants to go; we must let her go." No amount of death and dying preparation readies you for that moment when you must let a loved one go.
Without a spoken word, Barbara made her wishes known. Her caretakers released the hoist, and let her settle back down to the barn floor. They laid their hands on her warm, relaxed body and closed their eyes. Please give me the strength to let her go was the silent prayer. For fifteen minutes Barbara guided her loved ones along a path to the golden staircase. If you have not been there you will recognize it when you see it an immense staircase reaching up into the heavens crowned with a bright white light. Barbara did not hesitate, nor did she stumble on her way up the stairs. As she rose, her body became less encumbered and it began to glow. An overpowering feeling of exhalation and joy was all that could be felt as Barbara reached the top of the stairs. Once on top she was surrounded by a multitude of being. She was finally free.
In one short hour, life at the Sanctuary has been altered forever. Barbara is released from her frail body. Her gifts and lessons will live on. What she taught all of us is immeasurable. The other elephants as well as her human family are making the transition well. Barbara was buried at her favorite location at the top of the property. For the next 24 hours Tarra spent the entire time at Barbara's grave site. Jenny, Bunny and Shirley seemed to experience no grief; perhaps that is because they already said their goodbyes. Winkie had a great deal of nervous energy which she vented by playing almost in a frenzy with the toys hanging in the barn. And Sissy appeared to grieve. She was quiet and withdrawn, especially at night, which is the time she spent with Barbara. The following day Tarra spent with Jenny, Bunny and Shirley. Sissy and Winkie slowly returned to their normal routine, although Sissy remains subdued. As demonstrated by the unusual behavior just prior to Barbara's death, one could suggest that Barbara prepared her family for her passing.
Message from Carol Buckley following Barbara's passing
May 20, 2001
To all who shared the joys of knowing Barbara, I am sorry to bring you this sad news:
Our Barbie passed away Friday, May 18th, at 7p.m. Not exactly the birthday gift I might have asked for, but in hindsight I realize that it was the greatest gift she could have ever given me her true freedom.
We have been dealing with her passing and feel that we have fully let her go. Her body has been buried at her favorite spot the highest point on the property, in the middle of the newly acquired land. Barbie's footpaths are everywhere in this place. They lead through the thick brush to overlooks where an eight-foot-high eye can survey a breath-taking, beautiful horizon. She spent a lot of time here, immersed in her habitat, savoring being an elephant.
I rejoice for all that Barbara has given each of us. She flourished in her freedom here at the Sanctuary but her frail body could no longer support her. Now she is watching over and guiding us from her rightful place among all the other wise beings that have gone before her.
The other elephants are all dealing with Barbara's passing in their own way. We are watching them closely to be sure they have the support they need during this transitional time.
Without warning or previous illness, Reggie, our shy feral cat from a Nashville parking lot, died a peaceful death within hours of Barbara. They were buried together.
I pray to never forget the lessons Barbara taught during her precious time with us.
Honored to be Barbara's and Reggie's friend,
Message from Scott Blais following Barbara's passing
It is with great sadness and even greater amount of joy and comfort that I sit here to let you all know that Barbara has moved out of her body and traveled forward to carry on with her soul's work. As many of you know, Barbara had a degenerative illness and had a lot of difficulty this past winter.
For the first four years that Barbara resided at the Sanctuary she continually amazed those who met her. She was bigger than life, full of joy and love that touched many in the depths of their soul. The lessons that she brought to us have been endless and profound and have carried many of us into a higher realm of consciousness and for that I feel forever blessed and grateful.
This past winter Barbara struggled; her desire to wander was greatly inhibited by her physical condition. Several times Barbara went down and needed to be hoisted back to her feet. The light that Barbara carried grew dimmer no longer did she wander through the woods in the moonlight and we all said she is not the Barbara that she used to be.
On Friday, May 18th, Barbara decided to stay in the barn for the day, which is not uncommon for her to do, especially when it is hot outside. At around 6:00 p.m. Barbara went down in the corner of the barn and we were not successful in our attempts to hoist her back to her feet. Barbara had fought to hang on to this life long enough and she let herself leave her body.
By 7:00 we could see Barbara ascending with incredible grace and beauty; she turned to look back and we all saw Barbara, the Barbara that we all knew, shining brighter than ever before and finally free.
Namaste Barbara, and Namaste to all of her friends,
Polly Points remembers Barbara
On the last morning of my internship, I went in the barn and sat alone with Barbara as she ate. I was quite sad (to be leaving) that morning and somehow it was comforting to share that sadness with Barbara. I can still feel her presence.
Here is the poem I wrote about her that summer.
In stovepipe pants pressed and crisp
she strolls the late summer fields beneath a sapphire sky
and the effortless flight of a redtail hawk.
Like brushes on a drumskin, the high, dry grass skims her ankles
and parts mutely as she flows on through.
She, like Fred Astaire, knows the ease is in her legs—
bend only enough to break the crease; not enough to cause a wrinkle.
Unflappable and fluid, she glides toward the pine grove
understanding how the circling hawk ferrets out a breeze
without ruffling a feather.
Andrea's thoughts on Barbara's passing
I have looked closely at the aspects the day Barbara died. It is so interesting to me that she picked Carol's birthday, and so meaningful.
Barbara died on a day in which Taurus was at 28 degrees, security strong, earth support strong, nature in harmony. Carol is a Sun Taurus, so an Earth sign, and it was her Solar Return.
It is easier for animals and people to go out on special days like birthdays or anniversaries, astrologically, as people generally tend to be more "sun" empowered on that day...hence the loss would be more astrologically supported for Carol, and no doubt Barbara felt that. Two days later (the 20th) the sun went into Gemini, and the transition would have been much more problematic (the twins/split/yes or no/indecision).
On that date Mercury was in Gemini, its own sign, so communicating of feelings/thoughts much easier. Venus in Aries (a Fire sign)gives a strength and drive to love that she would have needed if she had felt weakened physically, to express her feelings at the end. Mars was retrograde at 29 degrees Sagittarius, giving a real boost to the spirit's liberation and allowing Barbara (and in harmony with her, Carol) to be sure of her decision (retrograde gives us the opportunity to reassess what we might have overlooked or been pondering). Jupiter is in Gemini, an Air Sign.
I feel that this helped Barbara in her transition and gave her lightness of heart and spirit, knowing that Carol was so much with her, and though in emotional pain also was able to share Barbara's joy. Interestingly enough this was EXACTLY the right time for Barbara to make her transition because Saturn just went into Gemini at the beginning of the month. This tends to make people dour, very serious-minded, and takes the light-heartedness away from Gemini.
If she had waited, or been held back, this transit would suggest she might have become burdened with uncertainty and perhaps become overly and falsely concerned about what was "expected" of her.
Letter from Bill Elliott to Scott, Carol, and everyone at the Sanctuary
June 7, 2001
My name is Bill Elliott and I work with Ingram Book Company. A couple of summers ago I had the distinct privilege and honor to visit your Sanctuary and paint fence posts as part of our United Way Day of Caring. During the visit (on what I believe was the hottest day of the year), Barbara returned to the barn and walked right past us.
Scott had instructed us to step aside and wait quietly as she passed, which of course we did. I will always remember looking into her eyes as she passed and the awe I felt...as if I was in the presence of some divine wisdom and grace...which I believe I was. I don't have the words to describe the peace I felt being in the presence of these wonderful creatures. It remains one of my fondest memories of my forty years thus far.
I was terribly saddened to learn of Barbara's passing. It was quite difficult to read about her and the other girls and the events leading up to her death. I trust her soul resides in the place of beauty described on your website, and it gives me great joy to imagine her free and whole again.
I'm sure it must be difficult to continue the daily tasks of the Sanctuary in her absence, and to that end I would like to extend my sincere condolences and to thank you for the wonderful work you continue to do.
To Barbie From a Friend
Because I love.
As I do, I must shed my tough
exterior and cry because my
Because I'm selfish.
Were I not, I would pray for
The gift of death for all
elephants in captivity.
Because I love selfishly.
And Barbie is in Heaven.
Name withheld by request
Weep not, my dear friends,
for I am in Paradise.
Roaming the meadows and fields,
Guardian of the young.
Abundance and beauty surrounds me,
Love and friendship everlasting.
My services were needed elsewhere,
My deeds on earth were done.
Dishonor me not by sorrow,
Rejoice with me in happiness.
Cherish our pleasant moments together,
Let good cheer resound throughout my Sanctuary.
Our spirits forever intertwined,
Our memories never ending.
Be not afraid to follow your hearts,
As your protector, I will always be.
My gift to you, my friends,
Is the gift your selflessly gave to me:
Freedom to be true to myself,
The freedom to make a difference.
Remember me fondly,
As I remember all of you.
by Barbara Borchardt
Valerie and Gavin Campbell wrote:
Dear Elephant Sanctuary,
Last Christmas, I told my wife that all I wanted was an elephant. Imagine my delight when I opened my parcel and found that I had adopted Barbara! We have both had a passion for elephants from our childhoods.
We have grown to love Barbara so much over the past months. We never met her, but felt that we got to know her well, thanks to the Internet. We were so upset to hear of her passing. Valerie wrote the following poem as an expression of her grief.
Thank you for taking such good care of the girl and making her last years happy ones.
For Barbara, Our Lovely Girl
It was softly you left us and softly you lived
So full of wisdom, with so much to give.
Strolling and exploring, cooling off in the stream
How much we loved you, you answered a dream.
Always so gentle, yet missing no trick
How happy it made you to find a nice stick!
We'll never forget you, that is for sure
Enjoy all that Paradise holds now in store.
Your family both elephantine and human, too
Miss you so terribly, that is so true.
But we know that great tag games and juicy sticks await
As you find yourself passed through Heaven's bright gate.
WE LOVE YOU BARBARA
REST AND PLAY WELL, SWEETHEART
Valerie & Gavin Campbell
June 19, 2001
TRIBUTE TO BARBARA 1966 – 2001
by Sharon Callahan
Just as there are saints, sages and mystics among human beings, so I believe there are animal saints and sages who come to point the way to another, higher, way to live.
Barbara was one of these. Captured as an infant in the wild, and suffering many years of physical and mental hardship of an intensity we can only imagine, she remained loving, forgiving and openly embracing of life. She was the perfect emissary of her species, always reflecting the goodness and love of which she was created to all who encountered her.
Knowing Barbara has changed my life immeasurably. I keep her picture on my desk and another photo of her on my altar along with pictures of St. Francis, the Blessed Mother, Ramana Maharshi, Yogananda and other great souls I aspire after. To me she is one of them; a sage, a saint, a mystic come in the guise of an Elephant - a beautiful trick of the Divine.
Whenever I have a difficult moment, a feeling of self-pity or a depressive though, I have only to look to Barbara for inspiration. She wore her life's hardship with dignity, courage and beauty. And in the end, she died as beautifully as she had lived, gently surrendering herself into the hands of He who sent her.
Barbara Speaks for the Elephants
March 12, 1997- 9:30 pm
''I speak now as a single manifestation of the great ones you call Elephant. I have been sent during this enormous time of planetary transformation to speak for those of my kind who have no voice, and for those who have gone on into the realms of White Love.
When we are together nothing can separate us but the ropes and guns and greed of humankind. We care deeply for each other, and we move and breathe as one great gray and luminous heart center. I have seen one lost calf turn a whole herd wild with grief and rage.
What one feels so do we all feel, and as much as we are attuned to each other we are attuned to the Great Mother Earth herself. . . her pain, the scars upon her body , the tears of her great rivers as they attempt to remove impurities from her quivering form, the clouds of brown particles that surround her glittering countenance impeding the in-flowing of the great central sun.
It is true 'an elephant never forgets' for we are the Earth's historians. Her biography cannot be separated from our own, for thus it was ordained from the beginning. We come to you now to raise your awareness as to the great suffering of this beautiful earth that we share. Her life hangs in the balance and the outcome is up to you, her stewards. She can become again the Eden of long ago—a paradise—or she can go the way of other planets of her kind, becoming dark, cold and lifeless orbs circling endlessly through the void of space.
Our great wild brothers and sisters have failed to attract your attention, and so a few of us have volunteered to enter your civilization through the darkness of the circuses, wending our way into positions of influence and visibility to draw your attention once again to the suffering of mother Earth and all of life upon her.
Please listen. We have allowed ourselves to be torn from our mothers' underbellies, to endure indignity after indignity, to be swallowed up in the bowels of depression and despair all in hopes of finally being heard—not for our own suffering alone, but for the suffering of every sentient creature upon our earth including those of your own species who live lives not unlike the most tragic of our own.
Let us not be afraid. Let us love one another and let us midwife the birthing of a new and glorious earth—a 'second coming'—it is not too late."
Barbara, through Sharon Callahan
Message sent by Sharon Callahan on behalf of Barbara
10pm May 18, 2001
Mt. Shasta, CA
May 18th, in the sign of Taurus, waning crescent moon, birthday of my precious Carol, I made my ascension into the realms of White Love and I AM resting tonight in fields of golden lotus flowers and singing birds of a beauty heard no where on Earth.
Thank you so much for allowing me to answer the call that beckoned me home. I am surrounded by friends and loved ones of all species, and it feels so magnificent to be freed of my body which was no longer able to contain my spirit.
Matoosh, The Great White Elephant Mother of us all was the first to greet me, followed by Baby Kitty who had gone but a week before to prepare a place for me and to hold the energy for my transition. Then Ruby and her child, along with my own dear mother and many, many others. Such a reunion!
I only wish there was some way for you to experience the joy and the freedom and the exaltation of this moment. You would never again fear the transition you call death.
I shall preside like a Morning Star over the Elephant Sanctuary guiding many other souls along their way to freedom and love and dignity, and as they make their transitions one by one over the years I will be there to guide them along the path of angels and into the fields of golden lotus flowers where the great ones rest.
I Love You All,
Our Lessons from Barbara
Her long gray trunk swung to and fro as her large old frame
ambled through the green field towards the outlying woods.
In a classroom far away, she was watched with growing awe.
Over the internet, students walked a visual bridge each day
to visit their large elephant friend.
Unbeknownst to Barbara, the elderly elephant,
she joined these small children
with special needs in their small village school.
Through her and the other elephants at the Tennessee sanctuary,
they learned the ways and needs of the large animals.
Every morning, as they wrote their lessons,
they peeked at Barbara to see how her day was going.
They watched her feeding, showering as she greeted the day
with great enthusiasm and a toss of her hay.
They watched as the elephants played
in the pond and wandered the woods.
Barbara and her gentle friends taught these children
about timeless love and devotion, patience,
wisdom and the magnificence of animals.
She taught them the importance of working together, using
their passion for fairness and freedom to benefit others.
With Barbara's help, these handicapped children
devoted their time to learning about elephants.
They worked with great enthusiasm to help
other elephants so they could also have
freedom that they so deserve.
Barbara has gone now.
She led an important and fruitful life
She lived bravely and strongly
in her tired, sickly frame.
She has earned the gentle peace
that awaits her spirit.
She is loved and missed.
Noel Elementary School
May 18, 2001
May 18, p.m. I (Carol) spent the night in the barn to be close to Barbara. I put my bed where I always do, knowing that Barbara's spirit was already gone, I was dealing with my need to be close to her physically. I woke many times through the night and watched Barbara's still body laying in that restful position, a position she had not been able to be in for months. She was at peace. In the morning it was hard to accept that Barbara and I were going to have to share this sacred space for a less than welcomed activity. Although I knew Barbara's body would be moved to her resting place with dignity and ceremony, I worried about how to complete the task.
May 19, 2001 There was no question as to where Barbara would be buried. The top of the mountain was her favorite place; her most visited location in the whole Sanctuary habitat.
With reverence and tears Barbara's body was loaded onto a flat bed trailer and moved to the top of the mountain. After much deliberation about which direction her body should face, it was decided that Barbara's head should face the North with her back to the East. Carol, Scott and Joanna stood by as the grave was excavated. Tarra joined them as Barbara's body was being placed in her grave. Tarra approached the open grave and reached her trunk toward Barbara.
A necropsy (autopsy) was performed to perhaps answer some of the questions that had plagued Barbara's caretakers and veterinarian for the past five years. Immediately it was determined that Barbara's liver was diseased and had been for many years. Her small intestine was unnaturally smooth and other organs did not appear healthy. Tissue samples were taken and shipped for studies. Once Barbara's body was covered and she was finally laid to rest, Tarra once again approached. For the next twenty-four hours, Tarra did not leave the grave site.
May 20, 2001
The girls are amazing and handling the loss in their own way.
Jenny, Shirley, and Bunny are making the transition gracefully, by all observation painlessly. They paid their respects to Barbara in the days before she died. We observed this behavior and wondered what they were doing. Since Barbara was no more debilitated then usual we wondered what they knew that we did not. Secretly we hoped Barbara was on the road to recovery and that she and the other girls recognized it. But now we realize they were saying their good-byes.
Sissy is a bit subdued and a little distant from Winkie. Although she and Winkie are close friends, Sissy had an especially close relationship with Barbara.
Winkie and Tarra are the two that concern us the most. They are both spiritually immature and are having difficulty understanding and excepting Barbara's passing. Tarra has spent that past 24 hours at Barbara's grave. She wandered the many paths that Barbara had foraged in this area so familiar to her. Tarra was a little subdued and uncomfortable leaving the area of Barbara's grave. Winkie is full of nervous energy, appears to be a little unsure and apprehensive.
Luckily Barbara waited to leave until everyone had a close relationship with another elephant. That sure does help. She will be desperately missed. We were blessed to be in the presence of such a wise soul.
May 20, 2001
GIFTS (thoughts) FROM BARBARA
Try to be soft in everything you do
stand tall and independent
treat others with softness
trying to extend life is unimportant, being in each moment is what is important
see through Barbara's eyes
smell through Barbara's trunk
hear through Barbara's ears
feel through Barbara's heart
she is everywhere
May 21 Tarra spent the entire day at the front of the 60-acre close to Jenny, Shirley and Bunny.
Bunny stayed out all night by herself.
Winkie was calm.
Sissy slept for quite a while in the night yard.
May 22 The girls are all very calm today. Tarra has spent the entire day out in the 60-acre with Bunny, Shirley and Jenny. Sissy and Winkie have stayed together, close to the barn.
Barbara's presence is strong. A fluid and ever silky film floating in the air and lightly covering everything, everywhere. Her presence is strong, gentle and compassionate. Listen with Barbara's ears and you can hear......be soft, stand tall, be strong, grow wiser and be SOFT in all your dealings. This is Barbara's gift.
May 23, 2001 As each day passes we experience more of the joy and less of the sorrow. The fear that experiencing joy will draw us away from Barbara is unfounded. In the joy we find her; she is everywhere.
May 24, 2001 Elephants and keepers have gotten back into a routine of sorts. The elephants appear to have made the transition gracefully. Keepers share knowing glances as they pass. The tears come and go and Barbara is ever present. Tarra remains in the company of the other elephants continually. This is the most noticeable behavioral change we have observed since Barbara's passing.
What a wonderful gift she has given Tarra and the others bringing them closer together.
May 26 The JOY is here.
May 19 - June 20, 2001 Since Barbara passed away May 18, Tarra has been spending much more time socializing with the other elephants. Instead of going off on her own to graze and forage, we observe that she is spending an ever increasing amount of time with her family.
Another gift from Barbara.
May 28 - A poem by Carol Buckley
A Holy Process
The tearing pain of separation, and loss
needing one last time to see and touch her,
tears flowed and our hearts ached, felt like we would burst.
immersed in our pain.
Joy peeked from around a cloud, it was swatted aside,
the pain was welcomed, made us feel closer to her.
She peeked from around a cloud and we grabbed for her,
to possess her one more time.
but her thoughts were strong,
her voice invaded every sob, our bodies rocked in pain,
to know she was gone.
Her smell, a glimpse of her back through the trees,
I'm sure I saw her, oh my God that is Sissy.
Energy dense and pulling me to see,
beyond my clouded tearful sight
Her gaze, piercing and wise, drawing me close,
dashed to reality, she would be here no more.
The wailing subsided, joy percolated.
Look up, look out, raise your head, see through my eyes.
Joyous music, sparkling leaves that had escaped my sight,
the flower, butterfly, darting squirrel,
see what I see, I am everywhere.
Her face, followed by a grin, her smell and remembrance,
her love and acceptance, her gifts grand and small.
A burst of tears followed by an overwhelming joy.
I knew her, I loved her, she loved me.
Goodbye, dear friend. You will always be with us.
for Carol and Scott
by Polly Points
How privileged we are that on her journey
She passed this way.
Wise as Buddha, she had known, always,
the meaning of sanctuary,
and when she found it, she relished the days given her.
Majestic as a mountain, she strolled the Tennessee hills
as though the land of her ancestors.
Seeking the pine grove for rest,
the lowland in storms,
the forest for food,
she knew survival was in knowing the land.
Her many footpaths showed others the way
to shelter, to water, to overlooks
from which before them lay an endless horizon.
Those who followed her found themselves.
Laid to rest on the highest knoll,
she can raise her regal head and,
above the morning mist,
see forever another day of freedom.
May 18, 2001
Back to top