With the passing early this month of Angela Hall we lost a great community member, friend, and, from my own personal perspective, a truly great listener. Being a good listener may not seem glamourous or heroic, but it is something that is so rare and so precious that it needs to be acknowledged and remembered.
How many of us can claim listening as our number one attribute? It is especially important today, where technology is such a constant demand on our attention span that our already poor listening skills are suffering even more.
Being listened to, and being heard, is the most respectful thing we can do for each other as human beings, and yet we rarely do it. Angela did both, and it made her a great friend, a great writer and a great storyteller, something the Valley appreciated via the Coast Mountain News for decades when she was at the helm.
I met Angela the first week I moved to the Valley in 2005. I was fresh off the ferry and completely ignorant of my surroundings. With a background in communications someone suggested I check out the newspaper, so I did. Little did I know I’d still be at it almost 16 years later!
I remember entering the office and seeing Angela there, working away despite having recently sold the paper and undergoing treatment for cancer. That’s how dedicated she was. With no one to take over the day-to-day operations she just kept going; her commitment to the community was first and foremost.
Once I got the hang of things Angela slowly managed to “retire,” but as the office was in her basement I saw her everyday and she continued to provide me with advice, at first professional but increasingly personal, because that’s just who she was. It quickly became apparent to me that I was not the only one who depended on her for support and comfort; there was a steady stream of people coming and going to talk with her and receive her advice.
She never turned anyone away, she never complained when people dropped in, and she did it with patience and grace even though I knew her health was poor and she was often tired. She even volunteer counselled people by phone who were facing a cancer diagnosis, knowing first hand the fear and uncertainty those people faced.
She came with me when I had the first ultrasound for my daughter, Isla, and she counselled me through those difficult months that all new parents face, she shared with me her struggles she faced when she was a single mother and she never, ever complained. She always made me feel welcome and she made me feel loved. There was a time in my life she was the best friend I ever had, and I am quite sure I’m not the only one who would say that.
Angela made a difference in people’s lives in the most unassuming way: she listened and she cared. She dedicated herself to helping others with kindness and compassion and she never judged. She was a true confidante and she will be dearly missed.
Thank you, Angela, for your years of service to this community and thank you, above all, for being a good friend.
A family tribute to Angela will be featured in the next issue.