From the Beginning: Abby Shoffner Milligan Barron

Abby Shoffner Milligan Barron died March 13, 2022. She was 71.

Abby Milligan poses for my camera in the first few weeks of our relationship, in the winter of 2003.
Abby Milligan poses for my camera in the first few weeks of our relationship, in the winter of 2003.

“You see, it’s all clear
You were meant to be here
From the beginning…”
~From the Beginning, Emerson, Lake and Palmer

From the day I met Abby Milligan, I liked her, and from the first date we had together, on January 17, 2003, I was comfortable with her and attracted to her, thought of her as rational, intelligent, and affectionate, and very soon felt very much in love with her.

Abby works at her desk in the advertising department of my newspaper in December 2002, just a few days before our first date. Abby left the paper a few months later to work for a fundraising company, and in December 2003, for Legal Shield.
Abby works at her desk in the advertising department of my newspaper in December 2002, just a few days before our first date. Abby left the paper a few months later to work for a fundraising company, and in December 2003, for Legal Shield.

Abby and I met in April 2002 when she asked me to photograph one of her clients, Fun Time Pools, when she was working as an advertising sales representative at my newspaper. We got along fine, but I spent my time and energies on other women during that era.

Abby Milligan smiles for my camera at my newspaper in 2002, about eight months before our first date. This is the first picture I ever took of her.
Abby Milligan smiles for my camera at my newspaper in 2002, about eight months before our first date. This is the first picture I ever took of her.

Abby asked me out in January 2003, since I hadn’t yet asked her. We had our first date January 17. We had dinner at Papa Gjorgjo downtown, followed by taking her to see the house on 17th Street I was thinking of buying from Ann Kelley.

Abby and I flirt like muskrats at our office in the early days of our relationship.
Abby and I flirt like muskrats at our office in the early days of our relationship.

Because I’d washed my car earlier in the day, the passenger side door mechanism was frozen, so she had to climb over the center console to get in my car.

For years afterwards, Abby would proudly tell the story. “I broke his car on our first date.”

Journal, January 18, 2003: Abby and I met last night and had dinner, then went to [Ann’s] house and talked about fixing it up. We held hands and held each other by the fireplace for a while. Back at my apartment, we curled up on my futon, held each other close and talked. She purred. I held her hands and touched her hair, and she nestled closer and closer. We traded back rubs. It turned into kissing, so much gentle kissing. We were so close, so warm, so happy to be together.

The next day on the phone, she said, “I think I woke up smiling.”

Later she told our coworkers that our date was “even better than she wanted it to be.”

Abby and I pose together in my apartment in February 2003, just a month after our first date. She is wearing my shirt.
Abby and I pose together in my apartment in February 2003, just a month after our first date. She is wearing my shirt.
Abby gives me a coy smile as she tapes up a baseboard as the two of us work to paint my apartment. Our relationship was just a few weeks old at the time.
Abby gives me a coy smile as she tapes up a baseboard as the two of us work to paint my apartment. Our relationship was just a few weeks old at the time.

Our relationship grew by leaps and bounds in the spring of 2003.

Abby and I pose in a mirror in downtown Ada. I gave her the pendant she's wearing for her birthday in 2003.
Abby and I pose in a mirror in downtown Ada. I gave her the pendant she’s wearing for her birthday in 2003.

In our first weeks together, she helped paint my apartment and add shelves above the living room. On nights we did this, we got a carafe of wine, and while tipsy one night, Abby called it a “giraffe.” After that, we referred to drinking wine together as “getting giraffed.”

Abby and I smile at a birthday party for her in Norman in 2003. It was the first birthday party anyone had thrown for her as an adult.
Abby and I smile at a birthday party for her in Norman in 2003. It was the first birthday party anyone had thrown for her as an adult.
Abby and I pose in her bathroom mirror just weeks into our relationship. One of the ways I knew I was "in" was that she bought me a tube of Close-Up toothpaste to keep at her house.
Abby and I pose in her bathroom mirror just weeks into our relationship. One of the ways I knew I was “in” was that she bought me a tube of Close-Up toothpaste to keep at her house.
Abby gives me a flirtatious look as she poses in Ada's Wintersmith Park in early spring 2003. Her phone fell out of her pocket here, and we walked the entire park calling it until we got back to this spot and heard it.
Abby gives me a flirtatious look as she poses in Ada’s Wintersmith Park in early spring 2003. Her phone fell out of her pocket here, and we walked the entire park calling it until we got back to this spot and heard it.

Several times in the spring of 2003, Abby and I drove to Shawnee, where I was renting airplanes at the time, and went flying a Cessna 152. We both had a terrific time, and I even let her fly the airplane a few times, which came very naturally to her.

Abby and I pose with a rented Cessna 152 in Shawnee, Oklahoma in the spring of 2003.
Abby and I pose with a rented Cessna 152 in Shawnee, Oklahoma in the spring of 2003.
Abby and I take to the skies over Oklahoma in the spring of 2003.
Abby and I take to the skies over Oklahoma in the spring of 2003.

In June, Abby and I flew to Florida to meet my parents and sister, and we all had a great time. My father seemed the happiest about this, both because Abby knew tools and how to use them, and because he had a bit of a crush on her.

Abby and I made enchiladas and guacamole for Mom and Dad when she and I flew to Florida in June 2003.
Abby and I made enchiladas and guacamole for Mom and Dad when she and I flew to Florida in June 2003.

From the start, our sex life was amazing. Abby was gentle, playful, kind, caring, creative and patient. She always smelled great. We always held each other close afterwards. Always.

Abby poses in the brilliant setting Santa Fe sun on our first vacation together, The High Road.
Abby poses in the brilliant setting Santa Fe sun on our first vacation together, The High Road.

In July 2003, Abby and I took our first road trip together, The High Road. It was an amazing time, hiking in the desert, which she had never visited, all day, followed by raucous motel sex in the evenings. It was a bellwether week for both of us, alone together intensely like a married couple, under stress and having fun at the same time, exploring our sexuality and the high desert. I had initially thought of the trip as being a northern New Mexico jaunt, but together we got more and more ambitious as the week went by, and made it as far as the Grand Canyon, which she’d never seen.

Abby poses for my 85mm in a yard in Norman, Oklahoma. I love this image and everything about it.
Abby poses for my 85mm in a yard in Norman, Oklahoma. I love this image and everything about it.

Prior to our wedding, I asked my parents to pay for us to have Abby’s teeth fixed, which they did, which was very generous.

Made in the summer before we got married, on the back porch of our house, this portrait of Abby takes my breath away. To me, she looks like sunshine itself.
Made in the summer before we got married, on the back porch of our house, this portrait of Abby takes my breath away. To me, she looks like sunshine itself.
Abby talks to Buxton the goat when he was still just a kid.
Abby talks to Buxton the goat when he was still just a kid.

The feel of her hands in mine, the light in her eyes, her smile, her laugh, the way she looked at me, the smell of her hair, and everything else about her said “home” to me in every way.

Abby made me into an animal lover and owner. Before we got married, Abby got two goats, Coal and Buxton, who were mostly my pets since I worked in the garden and the back yard. They have since died.

Made in July 2004, this is our official engagement photo.
Made in July 2004, this is our official engagement photo.
Abby and I pose for a self portrait on the anniversary of our first date, January 17, 2004. It was on this occasion that we decided to get married, and it stands as our engagement day.
Abby and I pose for a self portrait on the anniversary of our first date, January 17, 2004. It was on this occasion that we decided to get married, and it stands as our engagement day.

We talked about marriage, and decided we were engaged, on the anniversary of our first date. I’ve always thought it was smart plan to be with someone for at least a year before getting married so you can experience each other through all the seasons, holidays, and anniversaries, good and bad.

Abby and I married on October 12, 2004, and were happy, faithful, and in love until the day she died.

On that sunny wedding day in the adventure playground of southern Utah, neither of us felt “nervous” like you sometimes hear brides and grooms say… we were both 100% invested, confident and committed.

Abby and I wed on October 12, 2004 at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah.
Abby and I wed on October 12, 2004 at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah.
Abby smiles for a portrait with my long-ago-sold 105mm at dusk at her father's home in Ryan, Oklahoma, in December 2004, just a couple of months after we got married.
Abby smiles for a portrait with my long-ago-sold 105mm at dusk at her father’s home in Ryan, Oklahoma, in December 2004, just a couple of months after we got married.
Abby fit right into my family. In this image, she and I pose with with my extended family the week Dad died in February 2005, just a few months after Abby and I got married. Abby is always there for us.
Abby fit right into my family. In this image, she and I pose with with my extended family the week Dad died in February 2005, just a few months after Abby and I got married. Abby was always there for us.

Abby was among the most empathetic people I have ever known. In September 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, including my sister’s home in the Lower Ninth. For weeks afterwards, Abby couldn’t pick up a spoon or a bar of soap without thinking, “Nicole doesn’t even have this.” She ended up going to Walmart, buying a suitcase on wheels, then buying enough clothing and housewares to fill it, which we then sent to my sister who was staying with Mom in Florida.

Abby flashes me her incredible smile as we travel in southern Colorado on our first anniversary vacation, Mokee Mokee, in October 2005.
Abby flashes me her incredible smile as we travel in southern Colorado on our first anniversary vacation, Mokee Mokee, in October 2005.
Abby smiles for me at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado in October 2005. This ranks as one my all-time favorite images.
Abby smiles for me at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado in October 2005. This ranks as one my all-time favorite images.

Right after we got married, we got our first dog together, Sierra Kayenta Avenue, a long coat Chihuahua, as a puppy. Sierra died in early 2018. In 2006, we got Maximum Speed Boulevard, a smooth coat Chihuahua, who died in May 2019. In 2017, we got an Irish Wolfhound, Hawken Rifle Trail, who I walk every day. After Sierra died, we adopted Summer Time Lane, a young female Chihuahua.

Abby and I pose for a self portrait on our first anniversary vacation, Mokee Mokee, in October 2005.
Abby and I pose for a self portrait on our first anniversary vacation, Mokee Mokee, in October 2005.
Abby smiles as we make pictures in the bamboo forest at the Oklahoma City Zoo. The zoo is one of her favorite places.
Abby smiles as we make pictures in the bamboo forest at the Oklahoma City Zoo. The zoo is one of her favorite places.
Abby looks at me with adoration in this summer 2006 portrait.
Abby looks at me with adoration in this summer 2006 portrait.

“Days go by, I catch myself smile
More than you’d ever expect
It’s been a long while
Since it’s been okay to feel this way…”

~Duncan Sheik, Days Go By

I had never been married before. Abby was married to Paul Milligan for 23 years until his death in 1992 from metastatic lung cancer. They have a daughter, Dawna Michele Milligan Reeves, who I adore. Dawna, who grew up known as Chele (which we call her) married Tom Reeves in 2009. They had a baby, our grandson, Paul Thomas, in 2011. They live in the Baltimore, Maryland suburb of Parkville, and we saw them two or three times a year, but they hope to move to Dallas soon.

Abby and her daughter Dawna "Chele" Milligan pose together in 2006 in Dallas.
Abby and her daughter Dawna “Chele” Milligan pose together in 2006 in Dallas.
Mitchell, Abby and I pose for a Christmas card with our goats, Coal and Buxton, in December 2004.
Mitchell, Abby and I pose for a Christmas card with our goats, Coal and Buxton, in December 2004.

The thing we talked about the least was Abby’s nephew Mitchell, who we often referred to as “our son,” and of whom we were both guardians. He was a very troubled child. His mother, Abby’s sister Gwyn, died in his presence, unattended on her bathroom floor, in 2000 of meningitis when Mitchell was 8. She was 33.

Mitchell’s father was an abusive alcoholic and drug user, but was out of the picture by the time Gwyn died.

Mitchell was prone to fits of violence, crying, acting-out, and depression, and was completely selfish. He was so addicted to video games, despite our efforts to control it, that he was in danger on a number of occasions of flunking out of school. He would hurt any feelings or disobey anything we told him to play video games. In 2010, it came to a head, and we threw him out. We never regretted that, or any other actions we took with Mitchell. We offered him a home and a life, and he declined.

Mitchell and Abby pose with me for the July 4 holiday in 2006. Despite our efforts and Mitchell's potential, he was something of a lost cause.
Mitchell and Abby pose with me for the July 4 holiday in 2006. Despite our efforts and Mitchell’s potential, he was something of a lost cause.
The Shoffner sisters, Gail, Inez, and Abby, pose at Gail's home in Ryan, Oklahoma, at Thanksgiving 2005. Their youngest sister, Gwyn, died suddenly in 2000 when she was just 33. Inez died in August 2021.
The Shoffner sisters, Gail, Inez, and Abby, pose at Gail’s home in Ryan, Oklahoma, at Thanksgiving 2005. Their youngest sister, Gwyn, died suddenly in 2000 when she was just 33. Inez died in August 2021.

The rest of our families and we got along fine. Abby loved my family and I hers. My parents were delighted when we decided to get married: at Christmas 2003 in Florida, I asked Mom, Dad, and Nicole “what they thought” about me marrying Abby. They paused and looked at each other, then nodded in approval. When I got up to use the restroom, they all high-fived each other.

A huge difference between Abby and me was that I am something of a minimalist, while she was decidedly a collector. Though fundamentally at odds, it is something we simply accepted about each other.

Abby and I pose for a Christmas portrait at my sister Nicole's house in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in 2006, after my sister rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina.
Abby and I pose for a Christmas portrait at my sister Nicole’s house in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in 2006, after my sister rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina.
When testing her new label maker, the first thing Abby typed was this "I love you" label, which I still have.
When testing her new label maker, the first thing Abby typed was this “I love you” label, which I still have.
Abby poses with her Chihuahua Sierra at Christmas in 2007. No one I know, even children, love Christmas like she does.
Abby poses with her Chihuahua Sierra at Christmas in 2007. No one I know, even children, love Christmas like she does.
Abby smiles for my camera in July 2008, not long after her life-threatening bout with pneumonia.
Abby smiles for my camera in July 2008, not long after her life-threatening bout with pneumonia.
Abby and I visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial in October 2008.
Abby and I visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial in October 2008.
On this December 2009 day, Abby looked so pretty when she got home from work, I asked if I could photograph her.
On this December 2009 day, Abby looked so pretty when she got home from work, I asked if I could photograph her.
Abby and I pose for a photo at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in New Mexico in 2010.
Abby and I pose for a photo at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in New Mexico in 2010.

As nice as our daily lives were, Abby and I had the best times when we were on the road. We have been all over the country, from the woods in Maryland where The Blair Witch Project was made to the home of London Bridge, and dozens of locations in between. And it wasn’t just our destinations that we love, but the travel itself. We loved opening the tailgate of her pickup and sitting on it to have lunch at a truck stop. We loved the great big cups of black coffee in the center console. We loved the wind in eastern New Mexico and the sunset in southern Utah and the giant twine ball in Kansas.

Abby and I pose at the end of the beautiful Grand View Point trail at Canyonlands National Park in October 2010.
Abby and I pose at the end of the beautiful Grand View Point trail at Canyonlands National Park in October 2010.
Abby makes pictures on The Strip in Las Vegas in 2011.
Abby makes pictures on The Strip in Las Vegas in 2011.
Abby leans out of the window of her truck to photograph a thunderstorm in the Texas panhandle on our June 2016 trip The Enchanted Circle.
Abby leans out of the window of her truck to photograph a thunderstorm in the Texas panhandle on our June 2016 trip The Enchanted Circle.
Abby smiles as she and I make pictures for a client in 2010. Not only does she look sexy with a camera, taking pictures together is one of our favorite activities.
Abby smiles as she and I make pictures for a client in 2010. Not only does she look sexy with a camera, taking pictures together is one of our favorite activities.
Abby shows her playful side as we make our way down Main Street for dinner one evening.
Abby shows her playful side as we make our way down Main Street for dinner one evening.
Abby and I became grandparents in 2011. Our grandson is named Paul Thomas Reeves.
Abby and I became grandparents in 2011. Our grandson is named Paul Thomas Reeves.
Abby and I share a playful moment in the front yard in September 2011.
Abby and I share a playful moment in the front yard in September 2011.
Abby proudly shows off a picture of our grandson, Paul Thomas Reeves, in October 2011. Abby and I were in Flagstaff, Arizona at the time.
Abby proudly shows off a picture of our grandson, Paul Thomas Reeves, in October 2011. Abby and I were in Flagstaff, Arizona at the time.

Abby retired from Legal Shield when she turned 65.

Abby is loaded onto an air ambulance at a hospital in Ada after suffering a heart attack in 2011. She had a stent inserted and made a full recovery.
Abby is loaded onto an air ambulance at a hospital in Ada after suffering a heart attack in 2011. She had a stent inserted and made a full recovery.

Growing older was not easy for Abby. Rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren syndrome  took their toll. It was the one thing I would have changed about her if I could: her health. The failure of modern drugs like Rituximab and Humira mean that Abby and I managed her pain with opioid and conventional medications, and patience.

I lost count of the number of her hospitalizations, ICU stays, and near-deaths. Some details…

  • In 2005, she was hospitalized for several days with her third bout of shingles.
  • In 2006, she was prescribed methotrexate, which eased the arthritis, but caused her hair to thin and fall out.
  • In 2007, her rheumatologist tried adalimumab (Humira), which also reduced her arthritis, but “felt like hot lava” when injecting, and gave her a serious rash that didn’t itch, but eventually covered her whole body, and took three months to resolve.
  • In spring 2008, our rheumatologist turned to rituximab, a very powerful chemotherapy drug, infused in doses so high that the nurses felt the need to call the pharmacy to recheck the dose. The drug worked, and she and her former mother-in-law flew to Baltimore and had a great time, with Abby’s arthritis in remission. However, the consequence of this powerful treatment was an extensive destruction of her immune system, and in May she developed pneumonia. On Saturday May 10, 2008, she was so weak that EMS had to transport her to the emergency room. She was admitted to ICU. Monday morning, we had to intubate her. The entire hospital stay lasted nearly six weeks. You can read a complete synopsis of the event here (link.)
  • In early December 2011, Abby had a heart attack, and flew to Oklahoma City to have a stent inserted.
  • On four occasions in 2012, Abby was hospitalized with serious infections, including a MRSA infection, and three kidney infections, which were the result of a very large kidney stone, which she had removed by lithotripsy in 2013.
  • In May 2015, Abby was hospitalized for eight days with a kidney infection so serious that at one point a nurse handed me a list of nursing homes.
  • In February 2021 Abby was hospitalized for several days for dehydration and high calcium levels, and because of the coronavirus epidemic, I was unable to be with her to advocate for her care, which was very difficult.
  • In August 2021, Abby was very sick with a urinary tract in infection that resulted in her falling on her left shoulder, breaking the head of her humerus, and leading to a long hospital stay.
  • On October 15, 2021, Abby was again admitted with weakness and confusion. At first it looked like another UTI, but a chest x-ray supported a diagnosis of pneumonia. By October 22, she was admitted to Coal County Memorial Hospital for continued care. On November 10, 2021, Abby was admitted to Ballard Nursing Center in Ada, Oklahoma.
  • I visited Abby every day I was able during her stay at Ballard.
  • On March 10, 2022, medical personnel and I concluded that it was time for Abby to be in hospice care. Abby Shoffner Milligan Barron died at 7:50 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2022. She was 71.
Abby looks remarkably beautiful and healthy just days before the serious health crisis that eventually put her into long-term nursing care.
Abby looks remarkably beautiful and healthy just days before the serious health crisis that eventually put her into long-term nursing care.

Abby fit with a lot of my ideas of an ideal woman: she was sweet, she was bright, she was smart, she was a little bit of a tomboy. She had a country-girl saltiness I found attractive but hard to describe.

Abby and I pose with our Chihuahuas, Sierra and Max, in Sedona, Arizona, in October 2011.
Abby and I pose with our Chihuahuas, Sierra and Max, in Sedona, Arizona, in October 2011.
This is Abby's senior portrait, made in 1968. As you can see, she has always been beautiful.
This is Abby’s senior portrait, made in 1968. As you can see, she has always been beautiful.

Some other things about Abby…

  • She loved Christmas more than anyone I know.
  • She loved her parents with all her heart; I know this sounds like a lot of people, but Abby took it to the next level. She cried when she talked about them. Her mother died at age 60 in 1986, and her father died just before his 87th birthday in 2010.
  • Many things made my wife cry, but none more than the death of a pet. On the several occasions when I was present when her dogs died, and Abby cried louder and more intensely than I have ever witnessed anyone cry.
  • Abby loved John Wayne and his movies. Part of this was that her father resembled Wayne in many ways, including his rugged attitude. Abby collected John Wayne memorabilia.
  • Abby collected playing cards.
  • Abby cheered out loud for good guys in movies. She laughed with all her might when things were funny.
  • Although she always went through the motions of study like watching political debate, she and I almost always land on the same side of the issue. Abby’s politics were always about compassion.
  • Abby was moved by the U.S. Flag and what it represented, but understood why it was sometimes necessary to protest symbols and institutions. She was an NRA member, but often questions their core policies.
  • Abby thought tactical was cool.
  • Abby and I called each other the usual spousal nicknames like Honey or Sweetheart, but our unique nicknames for each other stem from our first vacation together, The High Road, when we drove up Cedar Mesa on a narrow, winding gravel road called the Mokee Dugway. Through our entire marriage, we both answered to Mokee, and sometimes our conversations only consist of that word.

Our songs were Our Little World by Susan Ashton, Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell, and Crystal Baller by Third Eye Blind…

“Can we try and take the high road
Though we don’t know where it ends
I want to be your Crystal Baller
I want to show you how it ends…”
~Crystal Baller, Third Eye Blind

“Come and hold me, hold me tight
I wanna love you with all of my might
‘Cause all is good and all is right
In our little world…”
~Our Little World, Susan Ashton

“I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line…
And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line…”
~Wichita Lineman, Glen Campbell

Abby and I share a sweet moment at her family reunion in 2012.
Abby and I share a sweet moment at her family reunion in 2012.
Abby prowls the outdoor market on The Plaza at Santa Fe in 2014. Abby loves Santa Fe.
Abby prowls the outdoor market on The Plaza at Santa Fe in 2014. Abby loves Santa Fe.

Despite the fair amount of pain she dealt with every day, she seldom took it out on me, and when she did, I knew it meant I needed to address her pain, not get angry at her.

She loved me every day, as I her, and we never went a day without “I love you.”

Abby smiles for me on a dinner date in early 2014.
Abby smiles for me on a dinner date in early 2014.
Abby poses for a portrait for me at Christmas time in 2014.
Abby poses for a portrait for me at Christmas time in 2014.
Abby and I pose at her family reunion in 2016.
Abby and I pose at her family reunion in 2016.
Abby and I rumble down a rough road in southern Utah on our 2016 vacation, The Endless Sky.
Abby and I rumble down a rough road in southern Utah on our 2016 vacation, The Endless Sky.
Abby and I smile in the October sunshine at her family reunion in 2017.
Abby and I smile in the October sunshine at her family reunion in 2017.
Richard R. Barron and Abby S. M. Barron, November 2018
Richard R. Barron and Abby S. M. Barron, November 2018
A young photojournalist friend of ours, Mackenzee E. Crosby, came to our home in early March 2020 to interview us for her writing class, and made some amazing pictures of us together.
A young photojournalist friend of ours, Mackenzee E. Crosby, came to our home in early March 2020 to interview us for her writing class, and made some amazing pictures of us together.
Abby S. M. Barron and Richard R. Barron, June 2019
Abby S. M. Barron and Richard R. Barron, June 2019

 

19 Comments

  1. This is such a touching portrait of your marriage. I thank you for allowing me to read this — and the other — entries. I know it means you trust me, and I appreciate that.

    In case you’re curious, reading through all those posts did indeed evoke a response in me — lots of old memories that I hadn’t dredged up in a while. Fortunately, the emotion was mostly gone from them and it wasn’t a difficult task to sift through them.

  2. Richard–I am so sorry to read of the passing of your beautiful soulmate. You were truly blessed to have such a wonderful, loving relationship. I lost my wife last August to Covid 19 and my heart still aches. Just take it one day at a time and reach out to family and friends. I’ll pray for you. I am sorry for your loss.

  3. An amazing tribute to an amazing woman, from her amazing husband . Rest In Peace, Abby. And May you find peace as well, Richard.

  4. Such a beautiful tribute and love story… So saddened for your loss. I grew up with the Shoffners; Gail and I were classmates.
    May your loving memories bring you some peace.

  5. Richard, please permit me to extend to you my heartfelt condolences and sincerest sympathy on the heartbreaking death of your best friend, travel companion, confidante, playmate, lover and wife, your beloved Abby.
    I am truly sorry and deeply saddened to learn of her passing today. I knew her condition was not improving, but I certainly never expected to receive a message from you containing news that Abby had died. I am still stunned.
    Richard, if there was ever any question or doubt about your love and unending commitment to Abby (and I must say I don’t believe there ever was), let it be known that morsel of doubt has forever and always been erased from anyone’s mind after reading your words and thoughts in what is the most beautiful tribute from a husband to his wife I have EVER read. Tears welled up in my eyes and they gently created a trail along my cheek and face as I scrolled through your emotional and heartfelt testimonial of your deep and abiding love for your lovely Abby.
    My heart aches for you, and it hurts, too, for anyone who knew the pleasure and experienced the gift of having known this remarkable woman.
    All of us have been made better and definitely we are the beneficiaries of her kindness and gentleness at the moment she accepted us as friends. In the months, years and decades that followed, she shared her spirit and her soul in ways we may never fully comprehend or appreciate. She touched our hearts and showed us how to be better humans.
    She will be missed more than mere words can express.
    May Abby rest now, freed from pain and suffering.
    May her glowing light be added to the multitude of heavenly stars. In life, she knew and shared an abundance of love; now, may she know peace.
    I share in your grief and your sorrow, good friend.

  6. I’m sorry. 💔 This entry is a lovely tribute to Abby and the life you two shared. I know you did what you could do to prepare for this day, but I also know that nothing can really prepare you.

    I’m sending love and heart felt condolences.

  7. Such a beautiful love story! Would make a wonderful movie! My prayers and thoughts are with you!

  8. What beautiful memories. A love story like yours is rare these days. While I enjoyed reading this story , my heart also breaks for your loss. My first memory of Abby is when I was young and a neighbor to the Milligans. I always thought she was beautiful, and a wonderful Mom to Chele. Later, I had and still have so much respect for Abby in the precious ways she attempted to help Mitchell. I know you both blessed him in spite of his issues. Please accept my condolences in the loss of this precious lady.

  9. My love to you BOTH – but I know she’s still hanging around. The best thing in the world is not being in pain anymore. Having lived with it for SO long, for THAT, I am grateful. For you, my dear dear friend, I weep probably more than you do. Just call – I’ll be there quick as lightening. My love to YOU – and my love to Abby. She is free – and she is EVERYWHERE around you. I DO know that. Remember: The wee hours my phone remains on. One thing GREAT about Ada is everyone knows everyone – and you’ll never run out of casseroles. Abby would get a kick out of that.

  10. I am struck breathless by your story Richard. So happy that you had each other and so sad that she had to leave you so soon. Rest in peace Abby Barron, love looked good on you.

  11. My heart breaks for you. I am so glad Abby had you, and that you had Abby.

  12. Richard,

    It’s so often that we hear the phrase “words cannot describe…” You, however, not only had the words but the voice to tell us who Abby was, both to you and to the world. It was truly a compelling read and I came away both saddened I never got the chance to meet her in person and immensely grateful for you sharing her essence with us.

    I wish you all the peace and love in the world. Be well.

    HJK

  13. Richard,
    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your beloved wife Abby. I remember reading of your marriage years ago and my heart was thrilled for you. Your tribute to her was a joy to read! May the treasured memories and photos bring comfort to you in the days to come. Thank you for sharing them with us.
    Blessings, prayers and love from the Bender family,
    Beverly Bender

  14. Richard, this is such a beautiful tribute and love story. I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts daily. Sending you much love and big hugs. Love you!

  15. A beautiful and enchanting love story. Thank you for sharing this poignant chronicle of your life together. I pray you find comfort and peace my friend.

  16. Richard
    I’m not sure if you’ll remember me or not, I’m one of Judy’s granddaughters. I never really knew Abby or you very well but I always loved seeing the photos you two made at the family reunions. They always seemed to show the love and happiness that family gives. Reading this and seeing her like this it’s given me a new appreciation for photography and a deeper connection to a family member I never had one with. Thank you for sharing this. It brought up alot of emotions, she was always beautiful. I still remember hearing her laugh, you always knew her and Gail’s laugh. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart.

  17. Thank you for sharing your story of your beautiful wife and the life you had together. I am very sorry for your loss and my prayers are that you will find peace and comfort during this difficult time through sweet memories you have.

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