Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
On Friday I had the joyous privilege of attending two memorial services for my friend and former co-worker Pam Langille. My husband and I arrived at St. Andrew's United Church at 4:00 for an absolutely beautiful ceremony arranged by Pam's sister Barb. Then we hopped on a bus with another friend and made it to the North Street Church for the 6:00 ceremony arranged by Pam's daughter Katharine. There were large gatherings at both memorials, and most of us attended both.
Pam was a passionate advocate for several issues, including:
- people living with physical or mental challenges and their inclusion in society
- availability of alternative health care
- the buy-locally movement
- the health of the oceans
- the preservation of the Acadian forest, which means the original species trees native to eastern Canada
Even before she developed cancer, Pam had already done research into green burials. When my dad was in his last months of life, Pam did research about private citizens' abilities to have a cremation take place minus the embalming chemicals being released into the atmosphere. As it turned out, for my father-in-law we had a non-formaldehyde cremation (or any other chemical,) as my brother-in-law works for the federal Ministry of the Environment and knew how to insist upon that.
I was very honored to be asked to attend Pam's burial on her friends' land in Jeddore. Unfortunately, I could not attend as my grandmother's funeral was the very same weekend in Yarmouth, four hours' drive to the western end of the province. I was so glad that photos of this event were brought to the first memorial.
For my Poetry Monday offering, I'm sharing with you the prayer which Pam's sister Barb wrote for the first memorial. Barb spoke at the service and read Pam's final speech (which they worked on together due to Pam's increased fatigue) where Pam advocated once more on behalf of the forest she loved so very, very dearly.
This photo was taken at Pam's grave site on Kate's land. L to R: Kate, Pam's mom Norma and Pam's sister Barb.
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Concern
We give thanks for the splendour of the whole creation,
For the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
And for the mystery of love.
We give thanks for the blessing of family and friends,
And for loving care given to Pam in her final days
by family, friends and caregivers,
And for caring concern that surrounds us on every side in our time of grief.
We give thanks for Pam, her work, her advocacy, and her love and compassion.
May we forgive and love, as Pam did.
May we carry on and continue the work yet to be done,
And may we leave a positive footprint on the earth
and in the hearts of those we know and love.
- Barbara Langille, 2008
The second ceremony was filled with heartfelt remembrances by those whom Pam fought alongside, on behalf of the forests of Nova Scotia. One man who spoke, Kermit deGooyer, wondered if he should mix advocacy with a memorial, which brought knowing laughter from everyone in attendance.
This next piece was printed in the program for the order of service for the 6:00 memorial, and was written by Pam's daughter Katharine.
(forest angel, eternal optimist and lover of all)
What a beautiful life you gave. When they said two months you said "daiquiris?" When they said "take it easy" you said "Ecuador?" We rode you down the Amazon in a river boat in your palliative wheelchair. 14 days pass. Then you call me and say that you're ready for your next adventure. The angels guide you out, with song and popsicles. Way to go out with a bang, mom. The fire works escorted you through the veil. The truck was shined and the precession began. Back to the forest. Your human form wrapped in organic cotton, we laid you in the breast of the great mother and gave you back to the Earth, to the woods of which you loved so much. They welcomed you home.
Hoorah mama hot damn!
- Katharine Langille, 2008
Katharine sang at both ceremonies - here's a song from YouTube featuring Katharine and two friends performing at The Wired Monk in Halifax. Pam's daughter is in the center in the purple top.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Akelamalu tagged me for this meme.
Here are the instructions:
Copy/paste the questions.
Type in your answers.
Tag four people in your lists.
(A) Four places I go over and over:
- Mama Gratti's for coffee between stumbling off the bus and toddling into work
- Park Lane cinemas for films and ballet in HD
- Keshen Goodman Public Library for my monthly writers' meeting
- When I'm in Toronto, the World's Biggest Bookstore
(B) Four people who e-mail me regularly:
- my cousin Julianne
- my best friend Connie
- my missmakeamovie blog mistress, Joanna D'Angelo
- my Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada chapter mates
(C) Four of my favourite places to eat:
- family dinners, whether it's our once-a-month gathering here in Nova Scotia or a Toronto family gathering whenever Brad and I can get back there - family dinners are my favorite thing of all.
For our regular Nova Scotia family dinners, we revolve them between Mom's place, Auntie Noel's, my cousin Julianne's and at my sister's boyfriend's place.
- my weekly lunch with my best friend, Connie. We've been BFF since grade 3. We walked to and from school together from elementary through to high school, and she was at my house or I was at her house after school every day. Moving away from her when I lived in Toronto was a torment. Once I returned to Halifax, we've made sure to meet up on our lunch break once a week, since we work a mere 5 minutes' walk from one another. All is right with the world when we have that hour together.
We have our regular spots: when I was at Land Registration, we met at Cabin Coffee. Now that I'm with Pensions, we meet at the Montreal Grill or Perks. A fixture - no matter where I worked - has been The Great Wall Restaurant, a fabulous Sze-Chuan and Cantonese place. Mmm mm.
- trying new restaurants with my husband. He's definitely someone who likes to try new things. And the whole walking into a restaurant experience, feeling the ambiance, reading through the menu, tasting the food, chatting, the whole thing - it's right up there among my favorite things to do.
- sitting at my mom's kitchen table on the weekends for coffee, breakfast, reading the paper and chatting. That's our time.
(D) Four places you'd rather be:
- in Narnia
- wandering through a Christmas-all-year-round store
- in a spa having a massage
- gathering with friends I haven't seen in awhile for excellent food and lively conversation
This is an oldie but a goodie - a New Year's celebration from 20 years ago. These are my high school choir friends getting together after beginning our scattering across North America. Clockwise L to R: Sean, Shelley, Mark and me.
(E) Four TV shows I could watch over and over:
- besides BBC's Robin Hood, you mean?
The A&E miniseries Horatio Hornblower is a huge favorite of mine. I do watch this over and over.
- the British series following Richard Sharpe and his experiences with the 95th Rifles during the Peninsular War.
- the British 60's series The Prisoner. It follows the attempted resignation of a spy and his kidnapping to the Village, where the population is made up of other former spies only referred to by a number.
- a Scottish series from the 90's called Hamish MacBeth with Robert Carlyle. It follows the curious goings-on of a West Highland village and the lone constable who maintains some semblance of order.
(F) Four people I think will respond:
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Last week I listed 13 things I'll always take a pass on. But what do I long to do?
1 - Go to the home venues of all the great ballet companies of the world to see these elite artists perform.
Which ones? Oh, let's start with the Mariinsky Ballet Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Originally the Imperial Russian Ballet, and afterwards known as the Kirov Ballet, it's now been restored to its proper theatre-based name.
A Mariinsky production of Swan Lake.
Other companies I long to see:
The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, London, England
American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House
Paris Opera Ballet at the Palais Garnier
Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Denmark
La Scala Ballet in Milan, Italy
The Australian Ballet at the Sydney Opera House
2 - Walk the red carpet as an Oscar nominee.
3 - Attend the Cannes Film Festival as a filmmaker.
4 - Direct my favorite actors and actresses in my films.
5 - Learn to stage-fight with swords.
6 - Go to a Romance Writers of America national convention as a published author and meet up with all my blog buddies.
These are two writers from my RWA Atlantic chapter at this year's San Francisco convention - my cousin Julianne MacLean and Stella MacLean.
7 - Drop into a book store and see all my books on the shelf. In the meantime I do that now with many friends' books.
Like this one by my chapter mate Cathryn Fox.
Or this one by my cousin, Julianne MacLean. That's my friend Lisa as my partner in crime.
Look at Julianne's shelf of books! Sweet.
8 - Have my engagement and wedding rings remade. If you put these two rings together, you'd get a close approximation of what they looked like. Losing them ranks up there with one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. I lost them when we moved from Toronto to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
I wasn't wearing them at the time because I'd lost a diamond out of the wedding ring and had them in a container, packed in a box of all my most precious things (including my diaries. I know.) Needless to say, this box did not get put on the truck.
At the moment I'm wearing a simple gold chevron ring with a small diamond which I bought on my trip to Toronto last October, with money my gram gave me. (Gram: "Come here, you. Take this, now. Don't spend it all in one place.")
9 - Drive a black Jag XJ6.
10 - Live in a restored Victorian mansion.
11 - Attend a reenactment Victorian all-night ball.
12 - Visit historic gardens with exceptional rose displays.
13 - Go to Scotland.