Sunday, September 28, 2008

Poetry Monday - 68 - Barb's Au Revoir to Her Sister, Katharine's Au Revoir to Her Mother

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.


Wylie Kinson said...

The world obviously lost a very special soul. And to be remembered, loved and cherished by so many... a testament in and of itself.

Heather said...

It would have been a great privilege to have known Pam.

Akelamalu said...

That's a lovely poem Julia and the memorial services sound like great tributes.


its nice of you to remember her..please visit my wordless wednesday.. its up already.. i will not be able to log in tomorrow (Oct 1, 2008)thats why i'm visitng all you guys today..
My entries are here and here

Memory Filled
Sweety tots

M. said...

I have long admired how smoothly and non-traumatically you integrate remembrance of people who have passed in your daily life.

On another topic - I was surfing yesterday, I believe at 'Dear Author', and they had a post about 'If you like Julia Quinn, maybe you'd like...' and they listed your lovely counsin! and their conviction she is underappreciated!
Thought you'd like to know.

Julia Smith said...

Thanks M! I'll go check that out.

madlyinlove said...

Very touching. May she rest in peace!

P.S: you have been tagged!