When I was back in the USA for my biopsy last month I got the extra special privilege of speaking on behalf of our family at Aunt Pam's online "celebration of life" service. She died of cancer shortly after we returned to PNG in November. At the time, I was in quarantine, struggling mentally with the isolation from the community and ministry, the impossibility of staying on top of everything on the home front in a large house with lots of kids, and missing my USA family. On top of that I had just received a concerning test result possibly indicating that I, too, had cancer. All that to say, my mental health wasn't in a good enough place to blog about the loss of Aunt Pam, but I'm more than ready now (despite being back in quarantine and once again cut off from normal life. Turns out it's a lot easier to quarantine by oneself! I get out on Wednesday.)
I’m Carrie Peterson Jones, speaking on behalf of the Petersons, Aunt Pam’s Lomalinda, Colombia family.
As my mom said, how do you put a lifetime into a few minutes? Aunt Pam was more of a sister to her than many biological sisters are to each other. When my parents arrived in Lomalinda in 1973, Aunt Pam took my mom under her wing at her first job in the Print Shop. After several more years I came along. Aunt Pam was the labor coach and godmother for each one of us three children, and there’s no time in our lives that wasn’t touched and blessed by the tender ferocity of her love and interest. She was present at my own children’s births. She babysat each of the Peterson grandkids at some point. She was our aunt and “Jewish godmother,” as she self-deprecatingly said about her worrying and nagging. She brought me to live with her after my baby sister was born but before Mom and Dad could return from Bogota, because she knew I was having a hard time away from family in the Children's Home. She’d visit us during our furloughs, and I remember her grilling me about my first boyfriend. She sat in the place of honor at my wedding. Every Christmas in Lomalinda was spent with her, and she was the essential and most fun guest at every birthday celebration. There was no motorcycle whose sound I rejoiced at more than hers. Here came fun and love in one intensely interesting package! She laughed the hardest at every joke, including her own, even when she botched or forgot the punch line. In fact, that just made her laugh harder!
As my brother Kenneth, or “Casey,” said, “She was the first adult who as a kid I thought was actually cool because she had Garfield and Far Side comic books at her house with a dart board and croquet set."
The best part was that Aunt Pam and Aunt Cyn would play croquet WITH us and laugh with us at our favorite comics. I remember her giant plastic grasshopper and fake dog doodoo.
As my sister Katie said, “Aunt Pam was the first adult that was also my friend.”
Aunt Pam and Aunt Cynthia were devoted to helping with the quints. Supper and bath time were their forte. Aunt Pam could make the babies laugh like no one else with her physical antics, such as bobbling a sippy cup, and with her crazy faces as she spoon fed them all in a row. She visited us twice in Papua New Guinea, when the babies were two and three years old. We also got to live 7 months of last year on the same street as her. She would walk by and visit, and the kids frequently ran down to her house to play - yet again, with a dart board. Aunt Pam and Aunt Cyn even hosted the quints’ most recent birthday.
Pam went to be with the Lord a week after we returned to Papua New Guinea. There’s no one in my life, outside of my own immediate family, who has loved me harder or encouraged me more. She was passionate about the Lord and unequivocal about our need to follow Him. She was an immeasurable blessing, and, as I told her, I can hardly wait to spend eternity worshiping the Lord together with her.
|Seth still on oxygen. Note the swaddles lined up on the couch behind them. |
Aunt Pam and Aunt Cynthia did a great assembly-line bath and bedtime routine!
|Awake and swaddled Will at bedtime.|
|With Tracy Brander, a lifelong friend and my former teacher. Aunt Pam has David and Tracy has Gracie. David and Grace have always been greatly drawn to each other.|
|Again with David. I love how he's holding his hands like a little man. |
He's always seems older than his years!
|Holding Gracie while goofing off with Marcie, who was trying to get her attention. |
Krista Besselman is holding Marcie.
|Another sweet one.|
|Marcie playing with the dolly and stroller that came all the way from the USA for her! |
|Seth in Aunt Pam's glasses|
|Gracie ended up being the one who spent the most time with Aunt Pam |
and Aunt Cynthia at the end of Aunt Pam's life.
|Aunt Pam chauffeuring us around (with our little friend Rachel).|
|The ONE photo I have of her relaxing! - and I know she was up out of that chair the moment anyone had anything that needed doing. We went to Madang for a few days, our first "vacation" with the quints.|
|Left to right: Marcie, Aunt Pam, Seth, David, Will and Gracie, with Gavin on the far right|
|I can't believe how young Isaac was! Enjoying breakfast with his Aunt Pam|