I’ve been ticked off for 11 months.
At death. At disease. About the fact I had to learn that purple is the official color for pancreatic cancer awareness.
No one should have to know that purple is for any type of cancer awareness.
Purple should be nothing more than my cousin Pam’s favorite color. (It was for a long time, although she began favoring red a few years ago.)
As an artist, Pam loved all the bright colors, one of the many things we had in common. Her art was vibrant, alive and colorful, just as she was. She used an array of colors in her drawings, paintings, needlework, jewelry … all the myriad types of of art she took an interest in. Even her pyrography and other wood art had color.
But purple will always remind me of Pam.
Pamela Dawn Taylor Hill, 58, died Jan. 2, 2021, of pancreatic cancer.
If I told you all the things about my dear Pam, we’d be here all day, but I’ll try to limit myself to some of the highlights.
Including her purple hair. 💜
This photo was pre-cancer, but it sums up this beauty: paintbrushes, purple hair and — unseen to the human eye — a fervent desire to bring glory to God through her art.
Arkansas girls visiting the West Coast cousin in 1969 or ’70. That’s Robin, Pam and me (the modest one even at age 6 or 7) after a day of play in the California sunshine.
We hadn’t lived in the same town in 40 years, but — thanks to family reunions and, later, smart phones, text messaging, FaceTime and social media messages — we kept in touch.
LIFELONG ARTISTPam loved sending me pictures of things she loved, what she was doing, recipes she was trying or her art pieces in progress. She even sent me, a former quilter, screenshots of beautiful quilts she found online and other unique ways people found to be creative.
And sometimes I would get a surprise piece of art in the mail, along with a handwritten note. It might be a small sketch, a piece of jewelry or that painting of daisies on the blue background that she created just for me, because she knew my favorite flower and my favorite color.
When I bought my first little house, she and her husband, Scott, were still making children’s furniture. Hubs did the sawing and sanding; Pam did the painting. For a housewarming gift, they created a smiling kitty cat to hang my keys on. For years, it hung by the garage door. Now it’s in a temporary (awkward) place on a bookcase I recently added to my workspace. (It’s stuck there until I can figure out how to pull it off without damaging anything.)
As a wedding gift for Bruce and me, they made us a table with a beautiful magnolia blossom.
The legs are a beautiful midnight blue.
Sometimes I would text Pam a screenshot or a photo of my feeble attempts at art. (I’m a spreadsheet nerd, not an artist.) She was always sweet and encouraging, because she knew that perfection wasn’t the goal. Creating, trying new things, being open to adventure — those were what lit up her heart.
She’d talk to me about art, and I’d let her know when her website wasn’t loading right. 🙂
Handmade cards with a sweet note inside were always a surprise and a delight, but such a perfect example of the way Pam showed her love and care for people.
In the photo below is the main gift from a care package that she was thanking me for — a piece of art on canvas that doesn’t even come close to naming all her wonderful attributes:
This piece of art on canvas doesn’t even come close to naming all the attributes of this woman of profound faith.
When she received the box (which included a pair of purple socks, some lavender, natural lip balm, tea leaves and a few other things), she wondered if the same design could be added to a tote bag so she could take it with her to chemo and other hospital trips. I gladly made that happen.
FAMILY FIRST … AND LAST
From the beginning of Pam and Scott’s relationship, we knew he was a sweetheart. In their 41 years of marriage, he proved it in so many ways, but it was never so obvious as it was when Pam was sick.Because of COVID, he wasn’t able to be with her during chemo treatments and the times she was admitted to the hospital as an in-patient. He had to drop her off at the entrance and leave. If it was a chemo day, Scott would sit in the car for hours, waiting to drive her home. Pam loved to travel with Scott. They went on adventures, but I think her heart was happiest when they traveled to see the grands. When she was healthy, she even blogged about both things: travel and being Gram to those seven precious littles. (I’m not sharing her family pics here; I’ll leave that up to Scott and the boys.) She homeschooled all three of her little guys, who turned out to be brilliant young men in every way. (OK, my bias is showing.) Pam didn’t have a college degree, but she was very smart, and teacher-mom did everything necessary to see that her pupils had an education that was on par with what they could get at any public or private institution. And Scott mentored them to be godly husbands and dads, themselves. Pam loved fiercely, and she had her own share of family losses. She lost her dad in 2017 and her brother in October 2020, just nine weeks before the Lord called her home. Pam was in the hospital and couldn’t attend Chris’ memorial service, and I grieved with her. She must have felt so alone.
Pam and I talked for years about going into business together, but in the beginning the logistics of living in different towns was a hindrance.In later years, we began an every-Thursday FaceTime meeting, just the two of us, to talk business and hold each other accountable to our goals and plans. We started talking about a Taylor cookbook of family recipes, about creating a planner/journal, and even about starting a podcast (my idea — not sure Pam was keen on that one). Should we do a digital planner or a physical one? How about both! We’d use her artwork and my geek skills. But before we could get the planner past the idea stage, Pam started having health problems. Even when we roomed together at a blogger conference in 2017, and a year later at a Christian entrepreneur conference for women, we talked of her growing health problems.
As things progressed and her health wasn’t improving (so many doctors, tests, opinions and diagnoses), I kept doing work on our planner.
As we soldiered on in 2020, I made real progress, continuing to have faith that her original artwork, created specifically for our planner, would complement my straight lines and sans serif fonts to make a beautiful but functional product we could sell to bless others and support our business goals.
That dream didn’t die with Pam, though. I still have plans for that planner, and I know the exact piece of Pam’s art I want to go on the cover (with Scott’s permission).
And the folder called Pam & Suzy Planner Project that’s on my hard drive will forever retain that title.
THE JOURNEY HOME
In my mind, Pam’s journey to her true home (heaven) started on Valentine’s Day 2020, when she texted me this from the hospital where she’d just had an ultrasound:
“I have no easy way to say it so here it is. I have pancreatic cancer. A large mass on my pancreas and chemo radiation surgery who knows what’s ahead. I’m in shock. Pray for us.”
With my heart in my throat but hope in my heart, I began praying. And for the next 11 months, I didn’t stop, even a week before Christmas when they told her she had very little time left.
The day after receiving the news that the end was near, she called me. One of the first things she said was that she had a peace about dying — a peace that comes only by knowing Whom you belong to.
I asked how she wanted to be remembered — how she wanted me to talk about her when she was gone. (If you don’t think it felt strange to ask that question, you’re wrong. But when you’re about to lose someone, you cut to the chase. Besides, I was pretty sure I already knew the answer.)
Not surprisingly, Pam said she wanted her legacy to be about her faith.
“Got that covered,” I told her. “Any time I’ve shared your journey with friends and asked them to pray, I’ve told them of your strong faith in Jesus and how you always want to bring glory to God.”
That was good with her.
Pam typically signed her social media posts with Soli Deo Gloria (Latin for “glory to God alone”). It’s how she rolled.
It’s how I’ll remember the girl with the purple hair.
THINGS I’LL MISS ABOUT PAM
- Prayer requests. Things Pam asked me to pray about, things I asked her to pray about.
- Rooming together at boss-girl conferences.
- Little silly funnies we texted each other on the regular.
- Our mutual love for Nanny’s pickles, pickle juice and other dill-icacies. She once sent me a link to a post on chocolate-covered dill pickles. Before that, it was pickle-flavored candy. And the pickle-juice slush at Sonic? She got to try it, but I didn’t. Jury was still out when she sent me the pic at right.
- Little videos of her chickens pecking at food.
- Videos she texted me of the little ones who called her Gram. (The tiny loves of her life.)
- Pictures of her artwork.
- Getting a surprise piece of her art in the mail.
- How she supported me, no matter what.
- Her example of always being willing to try something new. This was especially evident in her art (and pickle slushes). The list of art media she mastered is endless.
- Debates about whether to go with Etsy, Shopify or another platform to sell our handmade products.
- Her example of unwavering faith, even in the face of death.
THE DEEPER MEANING OF PURPLE
I’ve been wearing purple nail polish for 11 months. In the beginning, it was a vote of solidarity.
But purple is also the color of royalty, and it symbolizes hope — Pam’s joy and hope in Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. She’d want to be sure I told you that.
Pammy and I were born into a family with a legacy of faith in Jesus, and our family knows that she’s in His presence now, along with her dad and brother, her baby nephew, in-laws, our grandparents, some cousins and many others we’ve loved and lost.
We have the assurance that we’ll see them again someday.
(Heck, Pam is already experiencing that joy, and this knowledge makes the grief just a tiny bit lighter.)
If you, precious reader, don’t have that same assurance — that you’ll experience eternity in heaven with Christ the King — here are some key Bible verses for you to ponder:
- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” — Romans 3:23
- “There is no righteous person, not even one.” — Romans 3:10
- “For the wages [penalty] of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 6:23
- “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:8
- “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” — Romans 10:9-10
The bottom line is this: We all need saving and we can’t save ourselves. Jesus, who is God, came to earth in human form, lived a sinless life and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He was resurrected and can live today in your heart if you confess your sins, and acknowledge the resurrected Jesus as Lord.
If you’d like to secure your place in heaven for eternity but you have questions, please reach out to me by clicking here I’d love to talk to you.