The Best Sister Any Brother Ever Had

Teresa Virginia Farr, 1948-2010My sister died last night. I can’t imagine life without her on this earth. Teresa my buddy, my friend, my teacher…

She found out sometime in May that she had terminal liver cancer. For the record, that means you starve and swell up until something breaks. Last night it did, apparently while I was lying in the bathtub worrying about my own stupid future, the work I haven’t done, the home we don’t have, and half a million other things. Her husband went upstairs to check on her at 1:00 a.m., and she was already cold. That’s the way this happens in the real world.

Teresa was an artist. A life artist, I should say, because she lived her life like no other, doing everything her own way, including dying. She never spent a single day in the hospital and didn’t want to—no medical-industrial complex slavery for her, no sir! Short of breath and hemorrhaging, she slipped away in her sleep, all alone and without making a fuss. That’s my sister, as brave and compassionate as anyone who ever lived.

I can’t believe she’s gone. I just can’t.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • Michael Mooney August 23, 2010, 9:47 AM

    So sorry, John. Let me know if there is anything I can do. And please, be easy on yourself.

    With sympathy,

  • Beth August 23, 2010, 9:48 AM

    John, I’m so so sorry. I know there’s nothing I can say that will help you any, but I just wanted to say how sorry I am that she’s gone.

    Beth in Taos

  • Murr August 23, 2010, 10:23 AM

    I am sorry for your loss.

    murr in Winnipeg

  • sophia August 23, 2010, 10:40 AM

    Dear John – so sorry for your loss…..

  • Chris August 23, 2010, 11:48 AM

    I’m so very sorry for your loss, John. It doesn’t matter how much we think we’re ready for this, we never really are. And remember what Michael said above, go easy on yourself.

    Cherish the memories.

  • Sherry August 23, 2010, 11:57 AM


  • JHF August 23, 2010, 12:28 PM

    Thanks to every one of you, and much appreciated.

  • Frank August 23, 2010, 12:34 PM

    We are never ready for loss of family but when it’s a sibling it is much harder to deal with. Prayers all around for you John and your sisters family.

  • Byron August 23, 2010, 12:36 PM

    John, I’m sorry for your loss. You have informed, entertained and lifted the spirit of so many FarrFeed readers. My thanks to a good man.

  • Mary Vigdor August 23, 2010, 12:42 PM

    What an amazing sister — she no doubt felt the same way about you, John.

  • Steve Ingham August 23, 2010, 1:00 PM

    I posted another sympathy note on your Springer Foto Feed spot….but with the above messages….felt I should here too….but somehow I don’t have any better words to say than Sorry for your loss…and as someone said above…be kind to yourself John…..
    She was definitely an angel on earth…..and sadly they seem to go first! Blessings for you AND your sister!
    She is also a Teacher – even if she never knew it or wanted to be!

  • Chris Sandberg August 23, 2010, 1:14 PM

    The end of one journey for your sister, and the beginning of another. Hardest on those still here, I think. Her love will continue to sustain you; hold her in your heart for a while.

  • Pascale Soleil August 23, 2010, 1:26 PM

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Please be generous with yourself as you grieve.

  • Karen August 23, 2010, 1:56 PM

    My thoughts are with you. I remember Theresa as a child and her mild, quiet spirit. She is definitely an angel now and will continue to be there for you.

  • Ken Webb August 23, 2010, 3:02 PM

    She sounds like she lived without complaint, though facing pain and death way before the time she should have. Grant us all such courage and gallantry when our own time comes, as surely it will.

  • Carmel August 23, 2010, 4:18 PM

    Dear John,
    I am so very sorry. No words suffice.

  • KarenK August 23, 2010, 5:57 PM

    I’ve been following your thoughts about your sister’s final journey. My heart goes out to you for losing a beloved sibling. Having two of my own, I can only imagine what a hollow space you must have inside right now. I do hope that time will help fill that space with cherished memories. Sorry for being so corny, but it’s heartfelt.

  • carolfrombatonrouge August 23, 2010, 6:12 PM

    John, I am so sorry to hear the news about your sister. My heart aches for your loss. I am at my yearly three week visit with my younger sister in Spokane, Washington. She is an artist also with a really big heart too. I will keep you in my thoughts.
    Carol Griffin

  • JHF August 23, 2010, 8:25 PM

    Thank you all, again.

    I feel like I got run over by a bus. My sister showed us how to do it, though: you don’t need a doctor to die, and like she said, “It’s perfectly safe!”

    And so it is.

  • Peter Ekstein August 24, 2010, 7:08 AM

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your lovely sister.

  • Kile August 24, 2010, 11:40 AM


    As much as we try, there really are no true words to fit the loss, but know that prayers, real prayers (yes, I’m a believer) are being sent your way.

    You gave your sister great honor in your posts– what a great gift, and your honesty touches all of your readers.

  • Melissa August 24, 2010, 1:27 PM

    Paula and I send our heartfelt condolences to you John. Bless your sweet heart.

  • Fred August 24, 2010, 4:00 PM


    Like you I think, I’ve always appreciated words, and how if you string the right ones together in just the perfect sequence you can evoke great emotion, from blue-eyed calm through the spectrum to red hot anger. You’ve always been so much better at that than I, but I don’t think even you could find the right words, the right sequence to string together for what I wish for you. I don’t have the words to bring you peace my friend, so the best I can give you is my thoughts, my sympathy. It isn’t enough.


  • david culbertson August 24, 2010, 5:22 PM

    I am so sorry john.Prayers and thoughts are with you ….

  • Karen Kreps August 25, 2010, 9:57 AM

    My heart goes out to you and to William for your great loss. I knew Teresa from Barton Springs Pool. She was a regular there in the early morning, walking barefoot to the pool to toughen her soles, doing Yoga, diving for lost jewelry. She always stopped to chat. When I visited her home I was surprised and delighted by the bright red and orange color accents that she used everywhere and the fun-filled atmosphere of her kitschy kitchen and the single-lane ping pong table she set up. We couldn’t not play together. Her life was full of joy, art and toys. We had the pleasure of kayaking together on her wonderful inflatable Coleman kayaks down Barton Creek on a number of occasions. She surprised me by her physical strength, and now, learning of how she chose to spend her final days, I realize that that physical strength was matched only by the strength of her character.

  • Randy Howard August 25, 2010, 7:06 PM

    Teresa and I met while doing art shows in Dallas and Austin and swimming at Barton Springs. She was always such a free spirit and her view of the world was totally refreshing. A true Artist. I admire her bravery and her inner strength in her final hours.

    I am sorry for your loss, but be reassured that when you think of her, she is very much alive!

  • JHF August 25, 2010, 9:51 PM

    All of your comments are truly much appreciated and very moving. I can honestly say that nothing hurts quite like knowing I’ll never see her again. It’s wonderful to hear how you Austin folks remember her. That helps a lot. Thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.

  • Jane Wiscott (Smith) August 28, 2010, 12:54 PM

    Johnny, I know how it is to have lost a loved one. My daughter Andrea died with cancer at 46 years of age. She suffered for 12 years. She was a fighter. We know where my daughter is, she is with Jesus in Heaven. She was a believer in Jesus Christ and Salvation. Read the Bible and you will get a lot of answers to questions that seem to have no answers. Jane

    • JHF August 28, 2010, 9:28 PM

      Cousin Jane! Great to hear from you, and thank you for your kind words. That must have been a terrible loss for you. I regret not keeping up with you all so that I could have said something at the time.

  • Donna Romine August 30, 2010, 8:11 AM

    Sending you my deepest sympathies, may your memories bring you comfort during this time of sorrow. T Farr, as I knew her, was a bright and sparkling light in our lives over the years. She has a large “family” of Urban Animal skaters that love her dearly. She always was gracious and open when a group of us would land at her house in Austin and we looked forward to her visits to Houston. Blessings to your family

  • Tommy Krenshaw August 31, 2010, 2:15 PM

    I just read this. I am so sorry to hear this news, and sorry for your loss.

    Please take care,

  • megan sullivan kirby November 13, 2011, 1:53 PM


    I came upon this blog in looking for an artist whose cat print I have hanging above my bed and who went by the name of t. farr. One can only hope that the products made by someone would outlive their physical being and bring happiness to others beyond their death. Although I am not sure that the artist “t. farr ’86” is your sister, please know that there are many out there who were impacted by her, through the things she touched and manipulated into art. What a wonderful person your sister must have been, as I read all of these words. Continued blessings to your family and friends.

    • JHF November 13, 2011, 4:27 PM

      Hi Megan!

      Oh, that’s her, all right. None other. She always went by “T. Farr.” Thank you for dropping by and for your kind and generous words. We have a picture of hers above our bed, too, and I knew we weren’t the only ones.

  • Emily Ramey November 19, 2011, 7:09 PM

    Hi John,

    I also was looking for information on a print I newly found. I was saddened and touched by the story and love on here. It’s incredibly hard loosing a loved one young. You seem like a great brother and I hope your healing. I love your sisters art but I also have had people dear to me leave too early and find comfort in touching and looking at things that belonged to them.. I would love to mail this to you if you’d like ..

    • JHF November 23, 2011, 8:19 PM

      Hi Emily!

      Thank you very much for commenting on this. I miss my sister more than words can express. But you can keep the print. I have a number of her works, of course, and so long as what you newly found gives you pleasure, I’d just as soon she lives on in that way. But I do appreciate the offer.

      I hope I was a good brother. We saw far too little of each other as grownups. That’s probably the source of my greatest regret.

  • Scott Clark June 3, 2012, 8:35 PM

    Hi there, like the last few post I found this in my search for an artist I had just found. T. Farr 75

    Sorry to hear about your loss. You have to know she lives on in her work that keeps being discovered every day, in far off places.

    We have all been attracted to this work and know she was an amazing artist.

    Personally I found mine in a small thrift-store. It had fallen in its frame, and sat in someone’s window too long, but something made me roll the dice. Glad I did, going to get it museum mounted and hang it proper, hope you all do the same with yours.

    • JHF June 3, 2012, 8:42 PM

      Wow, in a thrift store! This is a great story, thank you for sharing. I wish everyone who’s commented here could have known T. and the way she lived. She never compromised. An artist through and through.

      Enjoy your discovery, Scott. I wonder which image that was?

  • Melanie Harris October 23, 2013, 9:46 AM

    Hello John,
    I’ve been working today to hang artwork around my home and decided to go online and look up artist bio information for some of the artists for my records.

    I have a handful of Teresa’s prints – purchased over the years at festivals around Austin. I heard that she passed away when I asked about her at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar last Christmas. I had always stopped by to say hello to her and often purchased a print. I had missed the Bazaar in 2011, so I was struck and saddened to hear the news.

    I went to UT Austin and knew Teresa from art classes there. I always admired her. She had accomplished what a majority of us had not – – she had become a true, professional artist!

    I remember seeing her many times on the hike and bike trail. As we passed, she would always be walking fast, carrying hand weights, with her bright red hair sticking straight up catching the sun. We always shared a smile and a few words and I can still hear her voice in my memory.

    She was one-of-a-kind, and Austin treasure who truly contributed to keeping Austin weird… and from what I have read here, she was true to herself through her choices to live and to die.

    So, I had to stop and take a few minutes to reflect on all these notes and leave one of my own.
    What a woman! I am so sorry she is gone.

    • JHF November 7, 2013, 11:20 AM

      Thank you so much for commenting. I hardly know what to say, except that losing her is something I never expected and never will forget. Your memories are totally accurate. One of the most heart-rending things about this is wishing I’d spent more time with her. We were very close, although we didn’t communicate all that much in later years. It’s like we didn’t need to. But for everyone else, please take note and be with those you love! You never know when things will change, except they always do.

  • Peter January 26, 2014, 2:52 PM

    Condolences to you John. Your sister lives on in her art. Go easy on yourself. I found the Jackrabbit among cactus t farr 94 in a thrift store in Arizona.

    • JHF January 31, 2014, 4:02 PM

      Her work is turning up in all kinds of places. Just amazing. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Mary Ann Mayberry January 27, 2014, 11:01 PM

    I, too, was so impressed with the life, joy and humor of Teresa’s seriagraphs, I just HAD to find out more about her. I first ran across ” SUSHI B ARFLIES” in an estate sale of a very wealthy cat lover who headed the local arts community here in Pinehurst, NC. She LOVED great art and cats and of the dozens of cat paintings and prints she had, ” SUSHI BARFLIES” drew me into it like no other! So vibrant, happy and fun, I HAD to have it. It is a long story but it almost mysteriously made it’s way to me about a week later at another location when I had previously been told it was sold. Anyway, EVERYONE who sees it LOVES it!!! Your sister is still making people smile and adding so much joy to lives!! I am truly so sorry for your loss. The world has indeed lost a very special person and Heaven has welcomed her home

    • JHF January 31, 2014, 4:02 PM

      So glad to know this. Thanks! I’d like to think she’s reading this. 🙂

  • Mary Ann Mayberry January 27, 2014, 11:07 PM

    Please let me know if you receive my comment. I can be reached at ♡ May you be richly blessed as she so richly continues to bless all she touched! What a wonderful gift she has given the world.♡ MAM

  • Maggie Reddy July 25, 2014, 3:35 PM

    John, was researching information on your sister Teresa today. I did not realize that she had passed. We purchased a couple of her enchanting art pieces in the early 1980’s. We were always drawn to her whimsy and her work never failed to bring a smile and often a big laugh. May your memories be sweet.

  • J.R.Fowler June 4, 2015, 11:25 AM

    We bought the most enjoyable painting of flamingos with tennis shoes and bicycles getting ready for the beach . We got it at an art festival in Houston in 1990 . We’ve had so much enjoyment from this painting it exudes joy in a simple yet sophisticated way . She must have been quite a delight . Good luck to you and your family .

  • Marty July 17, 2018, 8:26 PM

    Hi John,
    my sister in Charlottesville, VA sent me the notice of Teresa’s death. I’m a CPA in Houston, and in the 1980s I did Teresa’s tax returns for a number of years. We traded accounting fees for art, and I now possess 2 of her pictures which have hung on the wall for about 35 years now. Cat pictures, because she knew I love cats. I also bought art from Teresa and gave it away as presents to friends and relatives (that’s how my sister knew the name). Teresa was a gentle, kind person, I loved working with her. I loved her enthusiasm, creativity, her devotion to a life so much simpler than mine but just as happy. She was admired by, and influenced many people. You were lucky to have had her all those years.

    • JHF July 17, 2018, 10:12 PM

      Hi, Marty. Thank you for this. It means a lot. I still choke up every time I realize that she’s not here. I’ll pass this on to my siblings. Thanks again.



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