January 1, 1934 ~ January 31, 2019
On January 31, 2019, Jerry Perkin (wife, mother, sister and nana)..passed away, following a brave struggle with dementia. She is now with the angels and in a much kinder place. While we still grieve for her struggles and her losses… we take comfort in her passing… which for her was a blessing. ---- What lives on today… and tomorrow… are the memories of the resilience and curiosity of her childhood that would stay with her throughout her life as well as the strength of her indomitable spirit and her quirky sense of humor.
Marjorie (Jerry) Perkin was born in Londonderry, N. Ireland. The early family years were shaped by the loss of her father at 4 (before the birth of her sister), and by the challenges faced near her Belfast home during the air raids of WWII when she, and her sister and mother, went to live with family in the Londonderry for safety. She was a bright student finishing school at 16, then travelling to London’s Royal Hospital to train as a nurse. On a summer holiday to Tavistock, in Devon, she met the charismatic young farmer Frank Perkin and by 18 she had left her training, married and emigrated to Canada to a new life. Embarking on a 7 day transatlantic voyage, followed by a 10 day train journey across the Canadian hinterland to Prince George required an adventuresome spirit and courage. OMG !! Prince George in December 1952…that took guts!
Her courage and grit would enable her to face the rigors of those first northern winters…in rubber wellingtons!…and to keep on enduring in the years to come. After a 4 year hiatus in southern B.C. they moved to Fort St. John to begin life on the farm Frank had always dreamt of. Farm life with two young children began in a simple log house built with help from the neighbors and their little bush mill. The homestead provided space to grow… and a view few could dream of. Jerry thought their family building done after 2 children (David 1953 and Suzanne 1955), but a third happy surprise (Derry) arrived in 1969.
There was never a shortage of work in summer or winter and Jerry and the kids needed to chip in with a multitude of chores to keep home, school and farm life in balance.The memories of childhood are filled with the work and rhythms of rural living: lambing and calving, haying and ploughing, rock and root picking, tagging-branding-chasing stock, dad moving the sheep in a car, gardening, picking berries, riding, cutting wood, shoveling snow, and swimming in the dugout……But we also remember the ever present cups of tea (or other warming drinks!) to accompany stimulating conversations and creative storytelling with neighbors and friends as well as family visiting from far away places. Jerry loved to bake and folks will remember her wonderful scones, shortbread, squares and tarts enjoyed along with the laughter and the informal gatherings around that old farm table.
Jerry worked at the FSJ Medical Clinic for 35 years…at a job she loved and with people she enjoyed working with. The work there provided a wonderful technical challenge for a bright mind as much as a sense of purpose and connections to the wider community….We should all be so lucky to find a place in life that fits so well and where one feels they belong. Jerry was an independent soul and folks along the Hudson Hope road may remember the two VW Beatles… the first one black, the second one red… vrooming her to work over the years. She drove like Batwoman and really should have been in a pink Cadillac with fins (or wings).
Jerry was an avid gardener and reader. The green thumb inherited from her grandfather and the joy of reading nurtured by her uncle. For her, relaxation came from hours in the garden and greenhouse… amazing tomatoes, beautiful fuchsia baskets hanging from the veranda eves, along with a joyful colorful mix of perennials, annuals and veggie plots. A staggering number of books brought her peaceful escape when accompanied by her favorite Cadbury chocolate bar and her menthol cigarettes (cough).
Jerry and Frank both had to work full-time in town “to make ends meet” and managed the family and farm on evenings and weekends. As with many farming ventures there were good years and tough years, but never easy years. During the 60’s to 90’s the farm was the main life focus with a few more trips and holidays to visit family in the 80’s and 90’s. By the early 90’s Jerry and Frank were living part time in town. After Frank died suddenly in 1996 and the farm was sold, the bungalow on 103rd ave. was Jerry’s refuge and home base till 2012.
The initial years as a widow were a challenge but with the help of some wonderful friends and neighbors Jerry stayed connected to her community. She enjoyed keeping busy…helping neighbors…growing an amazing flower and veggie garden as always…enjoying visits and jaunts with her children…having fun being “Nana” with her 2 granddaughters…and travelling with friends and family to see more of Canada, England, the USA and New Zealand. Six years ago Jerry moved to Victoria BC… near to her two sons and where coastal temperatures meant cherry blossoms in February, lovely gardens for eight months of the year… and much less ice, snow or frigid temps. The first 2 years in Victoria were quiet but comfortable…in her lovely apartment with a small sunny patio just perfect to grow tomatoes and flowers… and with frequent jaunts out and about with the boys and her Wellsley neighbors… always a treat. While she enjoyed all these benefits she did miss her northern life and friends and talked of them often.
We are grateful that our parents had the courage to choose this life and the resilience and grit to stick with it, and we are thankful for an upbringing that made us stronger as a result…and a home that shaped who we are today. Jerry’s funny old fashioned sayings delighted her family and friends throughout the years… remember “fiddlesticks” or “oh bother” or “don’t be daft” or for “heavens sake” or “godfaaathers”…they still make us smile.
As we look back over the years we reflect on the role of friends, neighbors and coworkers in Fort St. John. We remember how much she valued and enjoyed their involvement in her life and we extend our thanks to them for their immeasurable help, support and caring during her life. She was so much richer for it!! ..…….We also wish to acknowledge the care staff at Selkirk Villages for their compassion and care during her final years and for walks in the beautiful Gorge area and music in the afternoon sun…these special moments added color to her world.
She is survived by her sons - Derry, David and family - and her daughter Suzanne and family Kim, Kiri and Shamara. She is also survived by her sister Doreen and nephews, as well as by her cousins Malcolm and Gordon and families in N. Ireland. …
Join her family in remembering Jerry as you found her throughout her life - the woman with whom you shared laughter and the simple but enduring moments in life. Remember her courage, her friendship (which was not forgotten)… and her smiling Irish eyes….for
When Irish eyes are smiling, Sure t’is like a morn in spring…
….In the lilt of Irish laughter, You can heart the angels sing.
For those wishing to do so, a donation may be made in loving memory of Jerry to the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation.
**Stories and pictures are welcome at Dave’s email:firstname.lastname@example.org