The Last Chapter

Posted by Jack on September 17th, 2011 filed in About Ann

And now, our dear Annie is gone.  She died quietly at home on August 23, as she wished, without pain or serious discomfort.  It was a fine summer day, about the middle of the morning.  You may not know that sometimes she liked being called Annie.

Early in July Ann learned that she had a really nasty, certainly fatal problem.  The seriously competent gynecological oncologist in Seattle told her that ovarian cancer had spread throughout her abdomen.  He said that he could treat this with intensive and painful combinations of medication and surgery, that this would extend her life “a number of months” as she wasted away, though the pain might be mitigated.  Ann considered this a poor bargain.  She politely declined the good doctor’s ministrations, electing to have a more comfortable exit with as much dignity as possible.  Then she set about organizing the final weeks of her life.

Ann welcomed visits from her close kin and from her best friends, some traveling far and with difficulty for short stays.  She judiciously and thoughtfully dispensed artworks, jewelry, mementos and treasures.  She made arrangements for a commemorative showing of her work and made certain that the exhibit would be braced with generous amounts of champagne and canapes.  While she had not touched spiritous cocktails for many years, she decided it would now be very nice to have martinis on the open terrace at the pleasant Bluff restaurant overlooking the harbor.  She relished foods she had eschewed for years: bacon, waffles, milkshakes, foie gras.  She feasted on ice cream and pastries.  She was delighted to learn that she was eligible to have a prescription for medicinal cannabis and she consumed it enthusiastically, giggling with wicked pleasure.   Called it the best medicine she had been given.  Most of all, she did not want her death to be a sad, burdensome or tearful occasion.

Ann was proud of her eighty one years. She touched many lives and helped lots of folks. She died leaving multitudes whose lives she enriched,  people who loved her,  people who cherish her memory.  Her works of art, the central focus of her life, enliven many walls throughout the country and she left us knowing that these paintings are her secure legacy, that they will continue to give pleasure over unimaginable years ahead.  She had unambiguous certainty that some of her paintings are truly great, very fine art.  She knew she did good work.  This gave her peace and comfort.  She wanted the rest of us to enjoy her art as much as she did.

Though she was comforted by the rituals, prayers and observances of her Episcopal church, she asked that there be no religious service.  No eulogies, no spoken remembrances.  The Island Museum of Art here in Friday Harbor will hold a retrospective/memorial  showing of her paintings beginning October 15.   People who have bought her paintings are lending them to the museum for the memorial and all the paintings that are not ever to be sold will also be on display.  Come see the show and enjoy it.  Ann always liked to know that people saw and admired her work.  We will never see these works together again.  This is our last chance to revel in the admirable craft of Ann Walbert.

Ann has gone.  Goodnight sweet princess, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

4 Responses to “The Last Chapter”

  1. Sarah at SmallWorld Says:

    Thank you, Jack. That was lovely.

  2. Meredith Adami Says:

    Jack, I am so very sorry I haven’t been in touch for quite a while and missed the last few Studio Tours. I just sent an email asking if she would be interested in showing her work at East Shore Gallery again.I’m deeply saddened. My deepest sympathy to you and all her friends.

  3. Joan von Weien Says:

    Jack, I was especially sorry to have missed the opening of Ann’s show this fall. I was visiting my family in the Netherlands, and was thought often of Ann’s encouragement to sketch during my traveling.

    In looking through her many small sketchbooks in this show, I was so touched not only by her talent, but by her ability to give fresh, immediate window into what she saw.

    She will be so missed. I so appreciated your writing about her and her art.

    Joan von Weien

  4. Nancy Hardin Temple Says:

    Dear Jack,
    I miss Ann so much!!. She truly was an inspiration to me in so many ways. Ann was a beautiful person inside and out. I must say she was like a second mother to me. We met in Carmel (1984) when I was 16 years old and she took me under her wing and taught me so many things. I will always cherish all the wonderful memories with Ann. I have her beautiful painting of flower’s hanging in my kitchen above my dining room table. Rest in peace Ann and I Love you very much!! Nancy Hardin Temple

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