In Loving Memory Pam Brown
Pam Brown had that kind of face: a wide open smile and kind eyes, the sort of face that seemed to attract complete strangers. They wanted to talk to her, to tell her about their families or, in many cases, all their troubles and though she might have grown a bit weary at times, Pam was much too kind to dismiss anyone. Her husband, Dan Brown, affectionately called her "Pam Landers," a comparison to the long time advice columnist. He spoke of how, in her job as a pharmacy technician at Pioneer Park Pharmacy, Pam knew all the customers."She was very people oriented," he said. "Complete strangers would come up to her. In 10 minutes she'd have their life history and their problems." Pam was born the eldest of three in Belleville. The family moved to Cambridge after her father, an OPP officer, was transferred. She met Dan at Preston High School where they became sweethearts and married in 1983 while he was doing basic training at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa. By then her family had relocated to Ottawa. "She became an army wife," said Dan. "It was very difficult for awhile. I was always away on tour." The couple was stationed in Germany for a year then returned to Canada. In 1986 their daughter Stephanie, was born, the spitting image of her mother."She was a really good mom," said Stephanie. "When my friends would come to my house, they would always say 'your mom is so cool, she's so nice.'"When I was little, she volunteered in the school. She came on field trips, she baked for the class all the time. She was such a mom." As a teenager Pam had worked mostly in retail, but stayed home to raise Stephanie before returning to work in the retail sector, until she found her place at the pharmacy. About 15 years ago, she completed pharmacy technician training and began taking on more responsibility in the dispensary. Long-time friend and colleague, Claudia Temporao, said "she ran our dispensary really efficiently. She really didn't have that position, nothing official but she definitely fit that role." Pam led through kindness, by caring for everyone she worked with and the clients. "She always had time for you," said Claudia. "She never made you feel that you were disturbing her. She actually listened. She would remember what you said. She was very patient, easy going." Claudia also said her friend had a special relationship with all the pharmacy's clients. "She remembered everybody, their family, if they were going through an illness, everything that was going on in a customer's life," she said. "It was far and beyond (her duties)." When Pam began undergoing treatment after the initial breast cancer diagnoses just over two years ago, the pharmacy became the place that kept her life normal. And despite being encouraged to take time off, Pam stubbornly struggled through full work days in between chemotherapy sessions. "She would not give in," said Claudia. "She was very determined to keep going." After receiving positive news following the first rounds of treatment, Dan and Pam were later devastated to learn the cancer had returned, this time with a vengeance, spreading into her bones. Stephanie moved back to the family home in Baden so she could help care for her mom and when Pam realized there was no hope for recovery, she started planning. First Pam wanted the funeral to be a celebration and though weak from the illness, she dictated notes to Stephanie for everyone she was close to, expressing her feelings about them and assigning each person an elephant from the extensive collection she started as a kid. For the funeral, everyone received their note and elephant, with an explanation. Dan and Stephanie also filled the house with Pam's photographs, encouraging everyone to walk through each room, look at the photos and remember who they were there to celebrate. Pam's younger brother Mike Grieve wrote in a tribute to his sister "She looked out for the people that she loved." Even though they were only one year apart, it was Pam who "was very attentive of me when I was a toddler. She was always watching what I was doing." Mike talked about his sister's need to keep the family connected, to be the "link between people." Even people that everyone else in the family had lost touch with. "That's the way Pam was because family was so important to her," he said. "We have all lost so much personally with Pam's death, but our family has lost that element that I think binded us together."