On Saturday night, July 12th, while I was in Yarmouth for my grandmother's funeral, my friend Pam passed away.
I knew she was near the end. She'd emailed me the previous weekend:
I'm on oxygen as of 2 days and catheter fo 3... have 14 hours of car duryng the day ad overnight...love to have a visit!!!! if you can manage it.
all my love, pam
She'd been living with cancer for the past year, but her recent decline was quite rapid. Blessedly so. I had a beautiful visit with her on Wednesday before I headed to Yarmouth with my family. There was a line of cars up and down her street, just like there was a house party - and there was. A Pam party, her home filled with all her loved ones. Her friend made room for me to sit on the bed with Pam, and we embraced, kissed, held each other, talked, smiled, laughed - and said goodbye.
1 - I met Pam when we were both hired by Land Registration for the scan project to upload all the property deeds for Halifax County onto the Property Online database.
L to R, back row: Chris, Bernie, Pam and Mike H.
Front row: Myself and Robert
2 - Pam and I clicked within seconds of meeting each other. She was 56 and I was 40. I was actually the second youngest member of the team. Far more than simply being the two non-males of the group, we got one another immediately and deeply.
This is the two of us one Halloween when the office went absolutely Halloween crazy. I arrived dressed as a Dark Age warrior, and Pam complemented me perfectly as a witch.
3 - This is a picture Pam took of me when we spent a magical day together in the Annapolis Valley for a horse logging demonstration.
4 - This was the team hauling logs out of a woodlot owned by a friend of Pam's. She was a passionate promoter of sustainable forestry. Selective logging preserves the old growth and manages the health of the woodlots.
Pam asked that donations made in her memory go to "the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to the long term care of our forests. The group was established in May 1998 by a group of citizens who were concerned about current tree harvesting practices. Members include woodlot owners, residents, foresters, tourism/business operators - people who are genuinely concerned about the health and future of our forests."
The address for donations: Comp 10, Site 2 R.R.1, Head Jeddore, NS B0J 1P0
5 - Pam knew she'd found a kindred spirit in me in many ways. When she asked me if I wanted to spend the day hiking through old growth forest to see horses hauling logs, she knew I'd say, "For real?"
She was a passionate advocate for the Acadian forests of Nova Scotia. "The Acadian forest region encompasses all three Maritime Provinces, northern New England and some southern parts of Quebec. A unique, diverse ecosystem found only in eastern North America, it's a meeting place where the northern boreal forest blends with southern hardwood forests creating a remarkable variety of forest ecosystems and opportunity." - www.acadianforest.ca
6 - Pam worked alongside the Ecology Action Centre on many projects. I met a few of her friends from the Action Centre during our day in the woods. We all got invited to a nearby farm run collectively by more of her friends to warm up and have lunch. An absolutely wonderful day I will cherish forever.
7 - Pam encouraged buying local produce and often shopped at the farmers' market on the weekend. She was friends with many local food producers, especially organic farmers.
8 - A talented computer graphics technician, she worked on many projects for the Bedford Institute of Oceanography here in Halifax. Even while working her 9-to-5 job with me at Land Registration, she worked at home in the evenings on mapping projects of the sea floor. In fact, if Pam did one thing, she did three things. She was a whirling dynamo.
9 - This is Pam with Holly, who also worked with us at the Registry mapping streets with GPS technology. It was Holly's bridal shower.
Before we met, Pam worked for 10 years as the Director of Volunteer Services for the Nova Scotia Hospital, a psychiatric facility.
She was also a regular contributer to the Ability Network Magazine and acted as an advocate for people living with physical or mental challenges. In fact one of her closest friends has Multiple Sclerosis, and Pam sometimes left work to fill in when his home care worker hadn't shown up.
10 - Here we are at Holly's wedding. The photo at the very beginning is from the wedding, as Pam blew bubbles for the bride and groom.
She was a true supporter of the New Democratic Party, and took her role as a citizen of a democracy very seriously. She sat on many committees over the years. Here's a quote from Pam when she took part in the Standing Committee On Resources, Sept. 25, 2001:
"To come back to the issue of our public lands and so on. Where we have so little public land and no control over the development on private land that it seems it is crucial now to be protecting as much of what remains wild land as possible." - Pam Langille
11 - This is a photo taken by Pam's daughter Katharine on another dreamy day we spent together. Pam and I drove to the Land Registration office in the Valley to train the staff there, and Katharine came with us.
Her daughter joined us for our lunch break, which we spent on a bridge over rushing water as Katharine played her mandolin and sang. That's Mike J. looking over at the water.
After work, the three of us gals stopped for ice cream, sat on Queensland Beach and had supper at a gorgeous restaurant in Hubbards. Katharine took the shot above of my glass of wine.
Katharine and Pam, taken by me
Pam is also survived by Katharine's older brother, Christopher.
12 - We could never be serious for long. Our team laughed, joked and sparred with each other mercilessly. This is a tender moment at a Christmas dinner for the scan team between Pam and Mike H.
It's rare to luck into a group of people that makes each day at work a total thigh-slapper. But we hit the jackpot on that one.
L to R: Mike H., Chris, Pam, myself, Patti, the King of Supervisors Mike J. who put our team together, and Bernie
We enjoy socializing together, long after our team has disbanded and the scan project completed. Here Pam nurses a beer with Ning, our other supervisor, as we play pool.
Here we gathered at Ning's new house this spring for a delicious dinner whipped up by his wife Yao, the most incredible cook you can imagine.
L to R: Mike J., Ning, Patti's boyfriend Tom and Pam
Life is real! life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
- Henry W. Longfellow
13 - Pam, I already miss you more than I could ever express. Thanks for taking this picture of me. This is the smile that was always for you.