Charlie Pahlman Memorial
Pam's Speech for Monday
Hi ya buddy - that is what he would say to me as he walked through the door.
What an extraordinary eight years it has been since Charlie came to work with us in the CAA office and that uncontrollable magnet pulled us together. I'd never came across anything like it before. How could one person have so much passion and drive, so much energy, spirit and life force. At that time if you dared to give him the time of day he'd chew your ear off about the Nuem Then 2, BOOT schemes and the World Bank. It was a passion, an energy, a commitment to issues and justice that affected us all.
This man opened my eyes, opened my heart and totally changed my life. I would never have been so enveloped by the love support and community surrounding us now without him. And never would I have developed such an network of amazing friends.
He embraced my family, particularly my mum, who all loved him so. And of course my daughters Rebecca and Bella- he was a second father to them - albeit a rather unconventional one at times. He loved and related so well to Becca's passion for literature and loved and admired Bella's cheekiness and stubbornness. And they loved him. Tina and Kari of course are sisters and daughters to us, and his mother Ann Lena a mother and grandmother.
And Skip my dog - Skip, Charlie and balls just went together.
It has been an incredible and sometimes difficult journey as his partner, his buddy, his soul mate for the last 8 years. I feel so privileged and proud to have been there. And I will miss him more than I can dare to dream about at the moment.
Charlie was so Charlie. So many quirks and habits that we have been reliving over the past week and will continue to do so.
Hey girls. We wouldn't have been the last ones off that plane and through customs the other day if he had been with us - we would have been the first. Charlie had to be at the head of a queue!
The unbreakable nocturnal habits and then the daily complaints about how tired he was.
His need to immerse himself in any natural body of water he came across, whatever the temperature and however difficult it was to get to. Remember the day after my cancer diagnosis when the 6 of us went for that walk along the river, it was about 8 degrees and of course he had to strip off and jump in, much to all your amusement.
And the mountain of pancakes he would cook us for breakfast - always relating the story that was his grandmothers recipe and it was better if the milk was a little bit sour.
His dress sense - or lack of it - the topic of many a laugh with friends. But I think he must be the only male candidate standing for election who achieved not putting on a tie throughout the whole campaign.
The salutes to the sun in the morning in his undies and t- shirt, the extreme yoga poses while watching the Simpson's.
And those enormous feet that stuck out of the end of whatever bed we slept in.
There is so much I've want to tell him this week, to discuss with him, to debrief with him, to share. He was such a communication junkie (although got very offended when I once suggested this). Everyday I would get text messages, emails, phone calls. How beautiful is that? But it is those late night calls when we weren't in the same house, usually between 11 and 12 at night, sharing our day, our thoughts, our worries, our fears…..and then of course I would collapse into bed and Charlie would head to his computer to tap away and start work. Our biorhythms were never going to be synchronised!
And the dark times - for a man with so much energy, vibrancy and an openhearted face to the world he struggled with so much fear, guilt, anxiety and also depression. He sometimes lacked confidence to do things that he was so capable of, he would fret about having done the wrong thing and offending people, and create enormous issues around guilt. I do feel privileged to have been through so much of this with him, although there was much of it he also needed to go through on his own. He was somehow more comfortable when life was on a bit of a knife edge.
Nothing was conventional about Charlie - not even relationships. He was a man you couldn't own, or belong to - he was a free spirit. There were many times that I really struggled with this and how many hours did we spend chewing this over- even on international phone calls. But what he taught me was that love - unconditional love - doesn't need these bonds, these strings attached. It doesn't need to fit into the conventional boundaries we have created, It needs to be free, to be honest and true.
'Pam', he would say - 'it's not complicated - just complex'.
Two years ago Charlie and I had the fortune to spend a week with Petrea King who introduced to us the idea of wrapping our children in a rainbow - but now I want to do this for you Charlie - to keep you safe on your journey.
I wrap you in a rainbow of light To care for you all through the night Your guardian angel looks down from above And showers you with her great love.
To finish I want to share with you all our song. This song - Invisible, Indivisible was sung to us by Kavisha as we sat at her feet in the wine bar tent at the folk festival in the first weeks of that swirl of falling in love. It just spoke to us.
Charlie immediately had to the go and find the words, type them up and give them to me with a red rose (this is from a man who absolutely scorned the idea that he might be called romantic). The other day he sent me a text to say he had heard it on the radio. And he loved to sing it at top volume in the car with his precious girls.
Wings of love The thread we feel that links us so Past all time and space to places forgotten, deep and holy.
I am flying with you Charlie - Travel safely.
I love ya buddy