Sunday, May 24, 2009
Pete and Barvo
Pete is but one of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military members that have given their all in their service to our country. Tomorrow, we salute them all.
And there are others that need recognition.
A few months after Pete was killed, I was in San Francisco over a weekend. I went to the National Cemetery at the Presidio. One of the most beautiful pieces of land on earth. Decorated with the majestic, discreet headstones of heroes fallen over the last 100 plus years.
As I wove and wept thru the grounds, I was drawn to the one statue in the front of the cemetery.
It told a story.
I decided then and there that we wanted to tell Pete's story. Not out of vanity. But because the story of this time of war needs to be told. And, we as a family, had the means to do it.
So we began the process of finding a sculptor.
J.R., my son-in-law, called me one day and said I needed to call a guy named Barvo.
Barvo is a Dallas based sculptor. He has done bronze and marble statues around the world. There is a life size bronze of Mr. J.C. Penney in their corporate office. Barvo did that. The statue atop the Texas State Capitol building was refubished by Barvo a few years ago.
We met in his studio in East Dallas last March.
He got very interested in Pete. He fell in love with him. And we fell in love with Barvo.
Using only photographs, he began to sculpt Pete from clay.
His wife, Maureen, told him she had never seen him so emotionally involved in a project.
He wanted it perfect. We got Pete's uniforms, patches, boots, helmet and spurs for Barvo to sculpt.
Using his delicate hands, he remade Pete. The broken nose from an inside pitch during bunting practice years ago. The flat ears. The thick neck. The wry smile.
Barvo got as close to Pete as anybody. Never met him. But became another relative. Another dad to Pete. And a lifelong friend of mine.
We had long planned to unveil Pete on 9/11/08. About a month before, Barvo invited me down to the studio and to lunch. He had something to share.
Barvo had pancreatic cancer.
He was 74 at the time. All I had ever heard was that pancreatic cancer was a sure and quick killer. Barvo calmed me and explained that there was a second kind of pancreatic cancer that was operable. That was what he had.
His doctor wanted him to go into the hospital immediately.
Barvo told his doctor he wasn't going until after 9/11 and Pete was in place in Melissa Cemetery in Melissa, Texas.
That morning of 9/11/08 we had a wonderful celebration and unveiled the statue. Friends, family, neighbors were amazed at what Barvo had created.
As the crowds gathered around, Barvo pulled me aside.
"Alan, I have been with Pete for over 6 months. I carved him. I swear to you he has a little bigger smile this morning than what I carved in his face."
And he was right.
The following Monday, September 15, Barvo went into surgery. He hasn't been home for 8 1/2 months. Just got released this week.
I saw him yesterday. He's weak, but he is very much alive.
As soon as he has the strength, he wants his first trip to be to the cemetery to see Pete. Maureen has not seen the work.
Pete, Barvo and Maureen and I will be out soon to visit.
Give Barvo an even bigger smile.