Monday, September 17, 2012

Remembering Pamela

Yesterday I attended the memorial service for my long time friend, Pamela Massey. I was honored to be able to help by bringing Andrew Gordon (pianist) with his harp and mandolin to the Tula Baptist Church. Teri, Pamela's sister was worried I would be late. "You're always, late, Mil," she said, sounding exactly like her sister!

At the church, the programs were placed in a basket by the door. On the cover of the program is a photo of a golden brown cotton field spotted with white blossoms. The field stretches about a hundred yards toward at line of dark green oak trees. The image covers the entire frame and is lovely and enticing. I looked for the credit, but there is none. The image was just there on Pamela's computer and since they knew she loved it, the family decided to put it on the program.

By 2:00, all the seats were taken and we were squeezed together as others made their way in the church. Judging by the crowd is one thing, by our friends is quite another. Artists, playwrights, musicians, publishers, actors were there, not to mention all the wonderful neighbors and relatives, friends with seemingly less glamorous careers, yet whose lives were also made fuller because of Pam. From California to the slow roads of Tula, people knew her as a Southerner. Her friend Julie said she would be talking to her on the phone from Los Angeles while Pam was sitting on the porch in Tula, sometimes counting cars going by, just three or four an hour sometimes.

It's the South, the beautiful, rural, quiet, loving, sleepy South, not awake to so much of what the world knows, but knowing more of what the world needs to know...Live simply. Live with less, and enjoy life with friends.

Standing room only, talk about her giving, her charmed life, despite her illness in the end, her friends and family, her calmness in getting things done, and no tears. Lee Bowie, Pam's brother in law said the one word that would describe Pam is Giver. Yes, she was generous, even though she never had much money. It was never about money with her.

None of us felt like wearing black and very few did. She would have wanted us to be as full of life as we could be, and to be ourselves, especially as we were there in honor of her, the person who respected everyone for who they were, not for trying to fit in or be unnecessarily traditional. When I saw Massey, her beloved niece wearing an orange dress, denim jacket, and boots, I had to smile. The same with Alice Walker who wore a beautiful blue dress with purple high heels, knowing Pamela would have approved.

Pamela supported me in my work as a photographer. She always loved one particular photo which I only gave her a copy of on her last birthday in August. This photo was taken in Idaho Falls about 20 years ago. She kept encouraging me to "blow it up." At one point I did, but can't even find that image, though I am sure that in one box here at home with all my vintage prints, I will find it...just as I will find the negative. Luckily, for her birthday I did find the original 4x6. That and a poem was all I gave her.  She was truly grateful.

                                          Shoeshine Chairs, Idaho Falls, Idaho            by Milly West

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