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All of the best people are dying...What do we do now?

Stan’s Stuff by tan Stewart.

Just an ordinary day. Half-heartedly I glance at my phone messages. What’s this? Pam is dying. Can’t believe it. I write to her family a note of support. No sooner had I sent it than in comes another message. Pam’s dead. What! How?

Pam was my mother - kind of. Not really. She was my age or a bit younger.

My mother died soon after my birth. As a baby I was passed from woman to woman. My Dad’s new wife didn’t work out. She was cruel to my siblings and doted on me. In my heart I rejected her because of her treatment of my brother and sisters but I learnt how to manipulate her. Because of this I was never short of treats and lollies.

I grew up wondering what it would be like to have a loving mother. This led to my accumulation of a check list of what qualities a good mother would have. Pam had them all.

She had four children, three girls and a boy. When I met Pam, her kids were aged from teens to young adults. They were all pretty normal. The boy was musical, a kind of “All you want to do is ride around Sally” kind of guy. The girls were beautiful - striking. I was in an indoor fruit and vegetable market when one of them silenced the spruikers (men shouting out their fruit and vegetable specials). One of Pam’s daughters click-clacked down the concourse in high heels and short skirt. All activity ceased. The men were speechless.

Pam loved them all. Sometimes she would rebuke them, but always in a quiet voice and with a smile. They adored her and so did I. “That’s the kind of Mum I would liked to have’ I thought. I never told her, but yet this thought has been with me through the years. And now she’s dead. A huge loss to her family and to me and no doubt a tribe of others. Irreplaceable.

Pam and is one of those who live on in the shadows of my mind and will continue to inspire me. It’s been my privilege to talk to some folk who have been on the Coromandel for many years. From them I have heard about individuals of vision and stature who have achieved great things. In making their mark, they have prepared for us the infrastructure and accessibility of the Coromandel we know and love. Their actions and generosity continue to inspire those who think of them.

Regrettably, these memories probably will fade fast. Now it’s our turn to make memories for others. Maybe we will and maybe we won’t. Right now, we are not in the land of memories. We are in the land of the living. Our actions, our interactions could warm others, maybe even inspire others when we are long gone; just like the memory of Pam does that to me now. The other option is to spin our wheels and rest on the laurels of our predecessors.

In 1675, Isaac Newton wrote in a letter: "if I have seen further [than others], it is by standing on the shoulders of giants “. In a way Pam is one of my giants. I am inspired by the life and example of Pam. Just recently I have been inspired by the hard work and vision of some of our pioneers here on the Coromandel. They lift me up.

Now we (the living) face a choice. We can trim and tidy what previous generations have achieved. Not much effort required; or we can think new thoughts and create some ventures and make worthwhile relationships which will be of value to our generation and beyond. Such endeavours can stretch and challenge those who relate to us- friends, family workmates etc..

I am wondering if I can leave a legacy of friendship and caring that could be of value to others when I am gone. I know that whenever I recall my surrogate Mum, Pam, I will challenge myself to be more friendly, less judgemental and more encouraging. It may take some effort but that’s something I can do. Face the fact. So many of the great people we have known are gone. Now it’s up to us to be ‘great’ in whatever way we can manage. There is still time. We are still on the stage and the curtain has not been drawn.

Thanks Mum Pam. I will try and walk in your footsteps.

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