Thursday, July 20, 2017

Remembering Pearlie

Three years today since Pearlie died and Bert and I still talk about her almost every day. She was a rare one, the sort of woman you don't meet every day. When I first started going out with Bert she didn't like me one little bit. I was older than her darling son, a Roman Catholic, divorced and had three children. Not at all the sort of future daughter-in-law she'd hoped for.

The first time I met her was in the Waveney Hospital. I'd been seeing Bert for a few months and he'd been admitted suffering from acute appendicitis. She was already there when I arrived and she was wearing a hat! A church-going hat at that. I thought she was the sort of woman who always wore a hat but it turned out she thought she might meet me at the hospital and had dressed to intimidate. It worked.

It turned out she wasn't intimidating at all and over the years she and I developed an uneasy rapport. She could be awkward but she was also funny although I don't think she ever intended that. Pearlie never quite 'got' social conventions. When, eventually, she moved in with us things got very difficult indeed. It was a tough six years. There are parts of it that I'm not proud of.

I often used this blog to let off steam and there are lots of posts featuring Pearlie. Some of them were verging on harshness and someone once challenged me about that. And that is a story in itself and I will tell it... but not tonight.

Instead, on Pearlie's anniversary, the reading that Hannah gave at her funeral.

Pearlie was born on the 10th of February 1926. She lived in Maxwellswalls with her parents and 3 younger sisters, all of whom she was close to but it was her second youngest sister Lizzie that Pearlie shared a special bond with. As a young woman Pearlie would often visit the Orr family at Springhill. It was here she met her husband Johnny Orr.
Pearlie and Johnny married in 1952. Seven years later they were blessed with their only child Robert, known to everyone in the family as Bertie. Pearlie and Johnny spent 45 happy married years before Pearlie lost him in 1997.
Pearlie was a very creative woman. She enjoyed sewing and embroidery in her spare time. She also kept scrapbooks and spent many a happy hour cutting pictures from various magazines to stick down in her scrapbooks. Pearlie was good at ‘thinking outside the box’ and she could have several innovative uses for normal, everyday items. There were no back doors with Pearlie. She said what she meant and meant what she said. She was a genuine person, kind and honest but also strong-willed and confident. She always knew what she wanted in life and, even at the tender age of 12, she knew she wanted to marry Johnny Orr.
There were several people in Pearlie’s life who supoorted her greatly when she lost Johnny and for the remainder of her years. Her sister Lizzie visited, faithfully, most weeks despite not always being in the best of health herself. Lizzie was a ray of sunshine in Pearlie’s life and a great comfort to her right until the very end. Pearlie’s niece, Margaret, was a saint to Pearlie and provided her with many hours of company as well as providing ongoing practical support. Pearlie loved Margaret’s cups of tea and sandwiches better than anyone else’s. Margaret has also been a great support to both Bertie and his wife Mary providing them with emotional support and advice throughout Pearlie’s decline. It was Mary who often organised Pearlie's various doctor appointments and, towards the end, became a full time carer for her along with Bertie.
As much as Pearlie needed her loving sister and niece she would have been completely lost without Bertie who was selfless enough to put his mother’s needs before his own for so many years. When Pearlie was more fit and able she would have sailed around the van with Bertie while he made deliveries. On one such occasion Bertie was forced to brake so suddenly that the van made a complete 360 degree turn on the road. Pearlie looked at Bertie and said, “Well that was some spin you took me on”. Pearlie had always liked dogs but when her husband passed away she had a void in her heart that was eased by the company of dogs, in particular, Penny, who Pearlie loved dearly.
Despite the decline of Pearlie’s physical health over the years her mind was as sharp as always and she enjoyed doing crossword puzzles. She would have stacks upon stacks of magazines, organised in a system that only she knew, and they always had to be within reaching distance. As well as reading magazines Pearlie loved to read the Bible. It, too, was always within reaching distance. Her memory was as clear as water and she was able to recall things from all stages of her life. Pearlie could look at a photograph taken 60 years ago and tell you exactly where it was taken and who was in it.

Pearlie will be sorely missed by her family and friends. They will miss her dry sense of humour, her ‘no-nonsense’ approach to life and her little quirks and routines. But she is at peace now and with her husband Johnny once again. 


Andrea said...

What a lovely tribute to Pearlie. I am still at times haunted by some of my lapses during my time caring for me Dad, and he's been gone nearly 10 years now, I try and remember that these were just that, momentary lapses at a time of great strain and remember the bigger picture of what loving care I and my siblings were giving him for most of his awful decline with Parkinsons and dementia x

Nelly said...

It has to be one of the toughest jobs ever. I'm able to see the bigger picture with the final year with my mother but there were six siblings who helped and supported each other (most of the time.) With Pearlie, there was only Bert who only had a cousin, myself and my daughter to help out. How long was your dad ill?

Andrea said...

I agree. Dad had been diagnosed with Parkinsons in his early 50s but our mother was his main support, until they were 64, when she died of pancreatic cancer. Even facing her own death her only concern was how we'd look after Dad! We were able to keep him in his home - I moved back in but did have my darling brother and sister's help - until he was 68 when he fell, broke his hip - and that was the start of a severe decline (bloody MRSA etc!). He spent some months in hospital, rallied a bit, and spend his last year or so in a lovely local nursing home (selected because it let us take the dog in to visit every day!) then died just before he was 71. We're not known for our longevity in our family - with the notable exception of my mum's only surviving sister, Dorothy, truly amazing character at 92. IN fact I'd better get of me laptop and go take her out to tea now!

Nelly said...

Little wonder they say that old age is not for wimps. Neither is elder care.
I hope you enjoyed your tea with your Aunt Dorothy.

Mage said...

I read many of those posts about Pearlie and thought you brave. My mother refused all suggestions the last few years of her life. Didn't want my help.

Nelly said...

Pearlie not only wanted help, she expected it! My own mother the same. Still, looking back, I realise it was a better experience than I believed it to be as we went through it.

Brig said...

Pearlie was quite the character, and from reading your posts over the years about her and your caring, I learned a lot. When it came time for me to move in with the folks and care for mother, who was bedridden. and did not like me one little bit. I took comfort in knowing I was far from the only one in that situation. Dad and I always got along well. After mother passed, we had some great times, til he went into a decline and passed this spring at 92.
I have you to thank for many times that I laughed instead of crying, kept it real, and just did what needed doing.

Nelly said...

Oh Brig, that's lovely to hear. I did read about your dad's passing. I thought he had a great outing and you looked after him so well.