OBITUARY

Pamela Jean Merriam

August 12, 1956December 15, 2020

Pamela Jean Merriam, dearly loved and most amazing nurse practitioner, passed to the other side on December 15, 2020. She stubbornly waited to do so, longer than seemed humanly possible that day, for completion of one of her wishes. In typical Pamela fashion, she stubbornly refused to leave this existence until the moment everything was finalized for her last contribution to the medical field, an organ donation. She is survived by her sister, two nieces, two great nieces, a great nephew, her godparents, a panoply of friends and professional colleagues who loved and admired her and whom she loved with all her heart.

Our loved one was born in Santa Monica, California on August 12, 1956 at Providence St. John's Hospital, and she came full circle back to St. John's for her final care and donation. She graduated with the Upland High School Class of 1974 in Upland, California and from Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles in 1978 with a degree in nursing. She went on to obtain two Master's Degrees - one as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, the other as an Adult Nurse Practitioner (NP) - both from California State University, Los Angeles. Her first professional position in 1978 was with Valley Presbyerian Hospital in Van Nuys, California, and she later worked for decades at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center & Hospital/Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) as an NP.

Our friend was also a leader and teacher in her craft and had an intimidating resume that reads like a novel. Pamela skillfully created a bridge between her knowledge and her patients, delivering the utmost care in attending to their needs. She also taught the NP students at UCLA and USC how to build this bridge in their careers. Her professional career was beyond reproach and her bedside manner, meshed with her ability to clearly articulate her extensive medical knowledge, was a breath of fresh air for those who received or sought her counsel.

Pamela was honored with many professional awards. However, the one she was most proud of was the Robert T. Angarola Award for Excellence in Cancer Pain Management in 2010 from the Southern California Cancer Pain Initiative. Most of us knew very little about her extensive accomplishments, because above all else, Pamela was modest and unassuming.

During her remarkable life full of adventurous travels and marked by her noble, compassionate career in palliative care and pain management, Pamela developed long-lasting friendships everywhere she went. She had a collection of friends, some with special group names, that sprang from different pafts of her extraordinary life: the Yayas, the Train Gang, the Pain Nurses, the cruise friends, among others. With some of us, she traveled, explored and participated in movie/dinner theme nights, and with others of us, she had potluck get-togethers, craft activities, always something interesting to share.

Her CPA got to know her well enough to share this recently. "We are in an era where healthcare providers are encouraged to limit time spent with their patients. Pain management is truly an art. Pamela was determined to spend the time necessary with each patient to ensure the best outcomes possible even when her supervisors pressured her to increase the number of patients she saw. Pamela was a professional who truly cared about every patient and outcomes achieved and practiced medicine in a way that is sadly becoming obsolete."

We all stayed in touch with her because she stayed in touch with us. She loved to travel, hike, white water raft (Grand Canyon), ride horses, whale watch, visit national parks, climb mountains (Yosemite's Half Dome) and, of course, attend nursing conventions around the country, devouring every detail about the history, sites and culture and collecting memorabilia all along the way ...... lots of it!

Memories

Pamela Jean Merriam

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Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

Zen time for Pamela collecting moonstones (and teaching me how to identify them) at Moonstone Beach in Hearst San Simeon State Park near Cambria, CA along California's Central Coast Aug, 2012.

Pamela's 9-day Central Coast trip, that I invited myself to join. She drove, and I was her photographer. We really got to know each other .... I mean, really ....., on this trip!

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

Pamela with Christopher and Joe, waking up, warming up, and chowing down on super breakfast made by our wonderful River Rat guides on the Colorado River/Grand Canyon rafting May, 2014, after camping overnight (3 nights) along the sandy shores of the river.

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

Pamela and Carla storytelling and throwing back some "suds" at the end of a rafting day down the Colorado River May, 2014.

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

Pamela and Christopher rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon May, 2014.

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

Catalina Island with train gang Aug, 2010. The inaugural year of the zipline. Everyone got nicknames that day, and Pamela's was Tinkerbell or, as she preferred, Tink. She loved dangling and flying up high, so the moniker was perfect and stuck.

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

Another mule ride in Yosemite, Sept, 2012. Pamela got a horse, and thus the big grin!

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

After kayaking through Dinosaur Caves Park at Shell Beach, Pismo, CA Aug, 2012. Pamela so loved kayaking! However, she and I discovered, for the first time, that both Alphas wanted to have the rudder position in our tandem kayak. Pamela won the toss, or more accurately, the "discussion," and she got in the back. I continued to steer us from the front to keep us from crashing into the cave rocks, and Pamela was certain she was doing a quite fine job as rudder. We are still having that debate.

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

Pamela starting up the cables to summit Half Dome 9/25/2012. I stuck close to Pamela cheerleading her assent, reminding her that a couple in their 80s had made it to the top, so there was no reason we couldn't do the same. And, WE DID! Along with our friends. I will have that epic memory forever!

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

We were all exhausted from previous day's hike and sleeping in tents in below freezing weather, and getting up at dawn to summit Half Dome before noon (9/25/2012) to avoid sudden afternoon storms/lightning on the "Rock." Right to left, train gang, Daniel Fresquez, Clark Tonkin, Christopher Covault, Carla Heidlberg, two of Daniel's children, Carla and Daniel ("Mijo"), Pamela (far left), and Deb and Carol (in front). Adrenaline and excitement got us through the day and to the top.

Carol Arnold

July 2, 2021

First day of hike to Half Dome September, 2012.
I don't know why we liked doing this cancan thing so much, but probably because it made us all laugh. Pamela graciously put up with it.

FROM THE FAMILY