Pearline Lorraine Clarke Nee Branker
August 20, 1957 – May 2, 2017
“It’s a girl!” The excitement filled the room
As the jolly, chocolate-coloured baby arrived,
“Chubby Cheeks” became her first nickname
Just as one of her three brothers had prescribed.
Roy and Rosemary Branker must have been over the moon
As they beheld this bundle of satisfaction and joy,
What a fitting conclusion to their productive endeavour!
Three boys and two girls instead of another boy.
The arrival of their Pearl brought the needed balance
To the lopsided situation of three boys and a girl,
Now the scale was virtually level if you see what I mean
Since one of those girls was our very own Pearl.
Educated at the then St. Giles’ Girls’ School
And then on to the Alexandra School she went
After which she attended the Barbados Community College
And showed much for the time there she spent.
An internship followed at the Advocate Co. Ltd
Forming the basis for her secretarial career,
Confederation Life, LOB, Sagicor and BB Insurance
Was the journey that for twenty-nine years she steered.
After six years at home beginning 2010
She returned to BB Insurance just over a year ago
And there she worked up to the time of her passing
Just another hour and it would have been literally so.
She awoke complaining of feeling unwell
Tuesday morning as early as four
But back to sleep again she went
Without any indication of what lay in store.
Transported there by her beloved spouse
Off to work she went
But called him back before he had gone too far
Only a few minutes had she spent.
Again she complained of feeling unwell
So he did all a loving spouse would do
But she moved beyond in less than an hour
And her sojourn here was suddenly through.
An ache burns deep within our hearts
For we did not anticipate when she would go
But God knows best; He always does
And He leads in paths we do not know.
Even on this sorrowing occasion
We can see still His hand of mercy
Reaching out in unmistakable compassion
Inviting his children, “Draw the nearer to me.”
This “Pearl” as she was so aptly named
Exuded a loving nature unsurpassed
For family and friends almost alike
And everyone saw her as a woman of class.
Her loyalty to family was clearly evident
As she anticipated their wants and needs
And often would go to the greatest limits
Such was the extent of her deeds.
She will be missed; I mean sorely missed
For her encouraging and inspiring words
Especially through Facebook to her FB Family
By now everybody must have heard.
Facebook has been noted for many an ill
But there was not the slightest chance with Pearline,
To her it was a facility in her mission for God
To inspire, to inform and to motivate her team.
Many are the photos that she transformed
With floral backgrounds or in other unique ways,
Birthdays and anniversaries were always remembered
And were also featured on her Facebook page.
I decided to scroll through her Facebook friends
With the hope of assigning to them a number
But I eventually gave up having grown tired of scrolling
And now as it stands I am still left to wonder.
Gifted in handicraft and dried floral art
We have all enjoyed her expressions
And no doubt still prominent in some of our homes
Are several of these enduring decorations.
A visit to Clerview Heights would surely reveal
Environs punctuated with divers plants,
All this the handiwork of this unforgettable Pearl
As her surroundings she meticulously enhanced.
Flowers and palms and exquisitely shaped hedges,
Golden apple, star apple and mango
Together with herbs and vegetable assortments
Spread all around the house in an organized flow.
And how could I not mention her ceramics
For which she once had an abundance of passion,
Flower vases, teddy bears, drinking mugs and pots
Of all types and forms and fashion.
There was a time when she would make an outfit
That would be the envy of those who viewed
And not long after their eyes had feasted
They would engage her to make some other style too.
The children in the family doted on her
Her lap and her dress hem were sources of comfort
And she had time for them engaging in their play
And in so many ways she rendered them support.
She was a great believer in upholding family
For that’s the upbringing from which she gained
And no stone was ever left unturned
In her effort to ameliorate disappointment or pain.
Michael, her spouse was a principal beneficiary
Of her care, her love and her affection
And the way in which she related to him
No doubt for him was his greatest attraction.
Thirty-two years of marriage on the twentieth of April
No children of her own but several she raised,
The many babysitting assignments were never a chore
And up to this day these grown adults still sing her praise.
For Michael his Pearl’s price was way far above rubies
And way beyond diamonds or purest gold,
Unlike these she could reciprocate his love
And in her arms of comfort his body enfold.
Such was the case when he had taken ill
For a few weeks it was as though time stood still
Those anxious moments with prayer she filled
And God took away her bitter pill.
God with her did such a miraculous work
That Mike is here for her graduation today,
Why this turn of events we can only hazard a guess
And continue to let go and let God have His way.
We are assured of that home for her
That Jesus has gone away to prepare,
We know he’ll come again and receive her to himself
And all who are looking for him to appear.
You see she made sure of that before her demise
For only in life is such a determination possible,
God honoured her request and drew her to the fold
And now that decision is irreversible.
To be brought up in the church was her parent’s desire
And at Carrington’s Pilgrim Holiness is where she acquired
The instruction to fashion her life as God desired
And there pledged her loyalty until the time she expired.
I don’t recall her filling positions on committees
But that is not surprising, certainly not to me
As we all know that singing was her thing
And for doing such she had a distinctive ability.
As a soloist, in duets, in quartets, in the junior choir
She sang from her heart and we so admired
Her beautiful voice as it blended with the groups
The Carrington’s Church is where this skill was acquired.
The memories of the youth chorale come to the fore
Standing in the soprano line awaiting the encore
Then in the Wesleyan District Youth Chorale in a similar spot
With the audiences longing to hear more and more.
What a life lived, exuding panache and style!
What memories remain of that radiating smile!
What a wife, what a sibling, what a relative and friend!
What a consolation that death is not the end!
Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on his gentle breast
Today we can rejoice with this songwriter
That God works out everything for our best
This He has done for our Pearl and she has passed the test
Having labored here in her bivouac of life
In Jesus she is now at rest.
Awaiting that great getting-up morning
When the dead in Christ shall be raised
And all those who are alive in Christ and remain
Will join them in never-ending praise.
But for now that Tuesday will be etched in our memory
For even now our minds are still in a whirl
At the same time we shall continue to give God thanks
For the time that we spent here with our Pearl.
Thanks to all those who in her last moments
Tried desperately to extend her stay
Like those at Sandy Crest who were quick on the ball
But she was still taken from us on that fateful day.
Your presence here today as we commit her remains
Is testimony of her influence and her impact
But bear in mind that the job is not ended
For Pearl would expect us to cover Michael’s back.
To all who sorrow Pearl’s passing this unforgettable day
And who will do so for a long time to come
Accept our thanks and believe us when we say
We are truly grateful to you and that means everyone.
So Pearline, Aunt P, Pearlasia, Pearl
We would have kept you longer had we that choice
But we are resigned to a greater than we
As we cherish your legacy, your memory, your voice.
Stewart Russell © May 2017