Supporter Spotlight: Barbara Meislin
California’s “Purple Lady” — dear friend of Compassion & Choices, supporter of the movement and generous donor — is dedicated to preserving her state’s aid-in-dying law.
May 26, 2021
Barbara Meislin, widely and affectionately known around the San Francisco Bay Area as “the Purple Lady,” is the award-winning author of No One Can Ever Steal Your Rainbow, a singer/songwriter, French teacher and healer through music with groups like The Threshold Choir, which brings bedside music to the terminally ill. But the focal point of her life has been philanthropy.
Barbara’s strong belief that color has a profound effect on the body and psyche inspired her pursuit of all things purple: clothing, house, cars, flower garden; but above all “a purple heart,” the gift of courage when deeply wounded in life. “For me, purple is the color of joy. It’s a way to connect deeply with other people. Having it close energizes me to live and to share life at its fullest.”
And live fully she does, despite great tragedy. Years ago, music and the color purple helped her through the sudden loss of her seven-year-old daughter, Lori, to a rare illness. Through incalculable grief, Barbara’s extraordinary strength of spirit led her to see experiences in her life — both good and bad — as “assignments.” One of her most meaningful assignments has been the creation of Little Lady Lori’s Purple Playground of Friendship at a bilingual, bicultural school located in the village of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, a settlement of Jews and Palestinians between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The playground features a seven-foot rainbow arch — a symbol of harmony, hope and love for all children.
Barbara’s philosophy of life and generosity of heart came from her mother, Vivienn, whom she calls “the original Purple Lady.” As a single parent, she raised Barbara and her brother, Allen, with minimal physical comforts but an abundance of shared love. Following her mother’s example, Barbara worked hard from a very early age, contributing to the family’s finances. Despite their own hardships, Barbara’s mother instilled in her children a sense of compassion. “We were taught to always put aside a little money to help others and that no matter how little you have, there is always someone who has less.”
Compassion & Choices’ mission is something Barbara understands in the deepest way. Her support of our work can be largely traced to watching her brother’s excruciating death from cancer in 1988. After witnessing his wife’s prolonged and painful dying, Allen’s greatest fear was to suffer the same fate. Sadly, at that time terminal patients did not have access to medical aid in dying in his state, and Allen’s death was a difficult one as well. Barbara made a promise to herself: “No one, if I can help in any way, will experience such suffering. That experience led me directly to this journey with Compassion & Choices.”
Barbara is determined to see the California End of Life Option Act become a permanent law. To help raise the funds needed to accomplish this goal, she established The Purple Lady Joy of Giving Challenge, matching all gifts to the campaign of $10,000 or more. Contact Robin Moler at 323-240-0088 for more information or to give.