April 03, 2005
Went to Pam's memorial service on Saturday. It was nicely put together by Rev. Karen Gray. The turnout was great too. The people who showed up were from all over the map, from Pam's closest friends to her close musical collaborators including members of the Thievery Corporation. During this event, I learned more about Pam than I ever did. For instance, I learned that Pam was a good friend of Patch Adams' and that Patch wrote a letter to Pam describing their encounters together and how Pam was always supportive in Patch's pursuit to his first hospital.
I also learned that Pam was a wonderful wife. It was also a delight to have finally seen the mystical/legendary Gareth Branwyn (Pam's ex-husband) after hearing so many things about him from various people. He appeared very sincere and had a good sense of humor. His speech was the most thorough and informative that afternoon. I applauded Gareth's courage to be as clear and bold as possible. He had not a negative thing to say about Pam, even though they separated two years ago. There was not a hint of hate that Gareth felt about the breakup. Instead, Gareth spent some time commending Pam's contribution both to the DC music community and to the family. Gareth emphasized that Pam was always there for their family and she balanced her dual role as a musician/wife really well.
Most of all, I learned first-hand accounts of Pam as a great Mom. It was humorous for Pam's son, Blake, to say, "I first met Pam when I came out of her," after a bevy of guests said they first met Pam at one of her gigs or whatnot. Another teenager testified that Pam was like a second-Mom to him and that she used to sing lullabys to him and Blake when they had trouble sleeping. He then burst into heartfelt tears. That was perhaps the most moving moment in the entire event. Another woman said, "I know you all know Pam as a great jazz singer. I haven't heard any of the Theivery stuff, but Pam used to sing camp songs to us." That humurous statement earned light laughter from the audience and sheer embarassment from the Thievery quartet, who was sitting on the same row as me.
Another great moment was after playing one of Pam's recordings, "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," the whole congregation engaged in a standing ovation and non-stop applause, giving Pam the recognition that she so evidently deserved. The best musical moment came from Dave Kane's beautiful solo piano on "Some Other Time," a Leonard Bernstein composition, a song that Kane explained was one of the break songs that he and Pam used to perform at Henley Park.
It was a wonderful afternoon full of good music and great stories. Pam would've been proud. May God rest you in peace, Pam.
Reprinted by permission of the author.