Lanie Melamed, 1928-2003
For those who attended the wonderful Memorial Celebration of Lanie's life (Victoria Hall, November 15th, 2:00pm), there was a lot to learn. We already knew of her passionate involvement with Breast Cancer Action Montreal and we had recently been the grateful recipient of her voluminous files on environmental concerns.
We knew that Lanie's leadership and support for BCAM dated back to 1991 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Never one to hang back, she had quickly recognized the path that ran between environmental degradation and the onset of cancers, and had been at the front of the crowd marching and demonstrating for cleaner air and stricter surveillance of chemicals in food and water. Lanie met the so-called "progress" of genetically-modified food and farmed fish with skepticism and letters to the editor. As for the war on Iraq and those elusive weapons of mass destruction, best not to get her started!
What we didn't know — even those of us who thought we knew her — was her lifelong devotion to folk music (and folk musicians), to country dancing (and country dancers), to handmade textiles and to the women who designed and wove them, and to the promotion of play and fun in all its many guises. We learned of her activity as a board member of Peacefund, of her determination to teach, whether at CEGEP or university level, in the way she wanted to teach. We learned of her insatiable interest in new learning — recently taking up rug hooking, Tai Chi, and conversational French. Most of all, we learned of these aspects of her life through heartfelt testimonials from many people whose lives she had touched over the years, including students who had been taught by her and teachers who had taught alongside her.
Each part of Lanie's life was connected to a whole — a whole that nurtured her family, welcomed and cared for friends, loved life, embraced this planet, and fought to keep it clean and welcoming for the people she cared about. Ultimately, she cared about all of us and all our descendants.
It has been a privilege to know Lanie and we will cherish memories of her passion, her feistiness and, not least of all, her delicious giggle.