Be Prepared. This Girl Guide motto encompasses all of life.
As a lifelong Girl Guide, this tenet drove every aspect of Jackie Pinder’s life… and it was a life with many aspects! Maternity nurse at RVH for many years, 5000 babies worth of years, she coached women, helped doctors, and carried newborns to the waiting arms of their parents. Jackie was present at the Canadian births of all her grandchildren and hovering just outside the delivery room door of her American grandchildren.
And if the birth went poorly, it was Jackie who held a lifeless newborn, and shared the most intimate of moments with bereaved families. From the peak of joy to the valley of grief, in sheer minutes.
These experiences moved Jackie and colleague Fredda French to take bereavement training and with two bereaved mothers (Teresa Falconi and Sylvia Murray) form an organization called Ended Beginnings. This group gave support, encouragement and very practical care to families who lost their babies through birth or miscarriage. It wasn’t just counselling, either. Jackie and Fredda made practical trips to the hospital morgue, to change processes and environments for those grieving families.
Jackie was pivotal to this region’s Girl Guide movement, as guide leader, then as district commissioner. She (and her late husband Gord) were sheer energy behind finding, fundraising and buying of land to build Camp Tewateno near Midhurst. They toiled relentlessly to create unique camping experiences for Girl Guides.
In fact, just days before her death, two friends drove Jackie out to the Tewateno grounds so she could have one last look at this natural place where kids can get away from technology and get ‘in’ to the miracle of nature.
At her funeral, Jackie’s son, Alan (calling himself The Texas Son) spoke lovingly of Jackie’s commitment to family, and it’s so true. She crafted quilts for every single one of her 11 grandchildren, and the congregation laughed as Alan described the pins that would fall into carpets, upholstery, stuffed arms of chairs, everywhere, really, when Jackie was quilting. “Maybe that’s why her name was Pinder!” he joked.
A New Brunswick Maritimer, Jackie Carson met Gord Pinder in Montreal– she at nursing school and he on leave with RCAF. What followed included travel, formula one racing, 45 years of Girl Guiding, quilting, Ended Beginnings, and lots of play with lots of kids as well as grandkids. Jackie’s four kids–John, Chris, Alan and Pam–have a definite act to follow.
Her death last week was managed with the same practical no-nonsense approach as everything else that she did. Fifteen years of colon cancer, then treatments, then clear, then melanoma, then treatment, then clear, then a lump in a breast and a dire diagnosis… six months to a year.
Jackie’s Christmas card last year included much of my Girl Guide belongings which had been in the Guide archives for some time… that, and photos of our Benji at his various birthday parties. I knew something was up. She shared the diagnosis. “I’m going to live long enough to be at the birth of my first great grandchild,” she announced. Jackson Gordon Douglas Pinder was born in July. Jackie was there. And Jackson was at Jackie’s funeral last Friday, bright as a button, the newest little Pinder.
When you measure Jackie’s life, you can include all the superlatives, achievements, the ‘everything’ that she was. But the word I would use, beyond Be Prepared, is connected. Jackie connected to people. She cared about them. She loved them. And they loved her back.
In 1978, in the old hospital maternity wing, it was customary to remain in hospital for 5 days. It had been an up & down time and Jackie had stopped in a couple of times at the end of her shift, wee baby Benji tucked under her arm like a football, plunking him beside me for some quality time.
As we were leaving, new blankets wrapped around him, carseat in tow, she stood in the middle of the maternity hallway and yelled down the length of the corridor. “You get back here in two years and give me a Girl Guide!”
We took a bit longer, but we did. And she was there to welcome Kid Two into the world.