Obituary of Isabelle Pearl Link (previously Mach, nee Smathers)
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With relief and gratitude, the family of Pearl Link announces her passing on March 8, 2023. We watched our mom live with ever-deepening dementia over the past few years, and our hearts are not heavy to see her finally free of those bonds.
Pearl was born to Richard (Dick) and Olive Smathers in Bay Tree, AB on October 5, 1931. She was the first of 5 children, and the only girl, born to Dick and Olive. She grew up on the family farm near Bay Tree, Alberta, attending school there and later boarding in Spirit River to graduate high school. She followed that with secretarial school and went to work in the Dawson Creek Employment Office.
She met Walter Mach, from Tupper, BC, while he was job-hunting, and they married on April 23, 1952. They chose to settle in Grande Prairie, AB, and they had 5 children over the next several years. Though Pearl had her hands full as a stay-at-home mom, she always had a strong commitment to community and volunteering. She served on the Grande Prairie Hospital Auxiliary for many years, as well as fund-raising organizations (canvassing for the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the Cancer Society and others) and community groups, including the Hillside Park Association, where she enjoyed calling Bingo at the weekly neighbourhood event. Each spring, she became “the greenhouse lady” at the Co-op – a seasonal job that gave her a lot of pleasure, both because of her love and knowledge of plants & flowers, and for the interaction with her customers. Anyone who knew Pearl knows that she was definitely a people person who always jumped at opportunities to start up a conversation. Every stranger was just a friend she hadn’t met yet.
Pearl and Walter enjoyed life with their family, spending many weekends at their parents’ farms at Tupper, BC and Bay Tree (and later Gordondale, AB), giving the kids lots of visits with their grandparents, aunts & uncles, and cousins. Later, after Dick and Olive moved to Kamloops, BC, the family made the drive annually for a visit there, as well. They also enjoyed regular summer vacations to the Shuswap, Okanagan, or Christina Lake in southern B.C where they would reconnect with the same group of friends year after year. Pearl valued and cherished these family holidays very much as she always loved seeing all the kids making the most of their summer freedom. The memories built during those years were priceless to her (and are still priceless to us).
In 1969, tragedy struck the family when their second oldest son Allen was killed in an accident at the age of 13. And, just under 2 years later, Walter succumbed to a heart attack. Pearl’s happy family life was turned upside down and, at the age of 39, she was left to raise their remaining 4 children on her own. She did her best through those years, taking on a full-time job at a building supply store and working there for the next several years, while still trying to be a good mom for her kids. As the devastation of losing her husband and son began to heal, she looked for ways to get back into “life” and got herself out volunteering again. Pearl loved to dance, many times coaxing her kids off the couch to dance in the living room to music on the TV. She loved the Tommy Hunter Show, Don Messer’s Jubilee, and The Pig & Whistle. This love for music and dancing, and being such a sociable person, led her join the Minus 1 Club – a club for men and women who found themselves widowed or alone for one reason or another.
This is where Pearl met Paul Link. Pearl and Paul hit it off right away and were married in 1976. Together, they built a new house, and though most of their two families were adults by now, they carried on raising the youngest two of their merged families who still lived at home. In 1986, they retired and moved to Creston, B.C., where they found a large lot with tons of room for the trees and flowers, fruits and vegetables they loved to grow. Here, they built another new life, tending to what they considered to be their little patch of heaven. They were also very involved with the local Seventh Day Adventist church. Pearl felt much fulfillment through participating in all aspects of their church life -- from the fellowship and worship with the
church family, to having a go at the saxophone in the band, to committing her time and energy to the church’s community service work.
Pearl and Paul both loved the outdoors and no-one got more joy from or saw more beauty in nature than Pearl did. They loved the Creston Valley and so enjoyed sharing it with any of the family whenever they came for visits. She and Paul camped their way through much of Canada and various US destinations and she also travelled with family to Germany and Ireland. By now, Pearl had fought a cancer battle and was a breast cancer survivor. But in 2001, she was widowed once more, when Paul lost a cancer battle of his own. She lost another son (middle child Dale Mach) in 2004, and a third (her eldest, Richard Mach) in 2005. Through the ensuing years, she lost all four of her brothers (Glen, Terence, Lloyd and Douglas Smathers),
sister-in-law Edna (wife of Glen) as well as daughter-in-law Karen (widow of Richard). Despite so much loss, Pearl never let herself be defined by this. She never lost her spirit or her faith. She kept picking herself up and kept herself engaged in her church family and in the broader Creston community. She gave of her energy and love as long as she could.
Pearl lived independently until signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s told her otherwise, and she made the decision to move to Crestview Village. When her condition worsened, she spent her final years in Crestview’s long-term Care Village. While she was able, she participated actively in the music, crafts, games and other activities and still made efforts to get to know the other residents and find things in common. Over the last few years, day by day, dementia continued robbing her of herself. Yet, her soul still shone bright and was felt by those who knew and cared for her at Crestview through these years. She received amazing compassion and love. No amount of thanks could ever be enough to properly acknowledge the gift of respect and dignity and care the Crestview staff gave to our mom.
We also thank Dr. Nerine Kleinhans for her care of Pearl as a patient and her guidance, wisdom, and steady presence throughout these last years.
Pearl lived a full life. She laughed often; she loved well and was loved; she was a life-long learner, by nature, and had a broad and eclectic knowledge. She was strong and compassionate and never afraid to try.
She hiked and watched birds and sat by waterfalls and admired rocks and grew flowers and absorbed the beauty and peace of nature as much as she could. She had good friends and was a good friend in return.
Those she leaves behind will not mourn her passing. Though we grieved the final goodbye, we will tuck her spirit away in our hearts and be grateful that she is free.
We are: her daughter Linda (Gordon) Wallace, of Creston, and her son Gordon (Sondra) Mach, of Vernon, daughter-in-law Laura Mach, also in Creston, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren, step-children and step-grandchildren and their families, nieces, nephews and 3 surviving sisters-in-law.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to any Alzheimer’s care facility or research organization, or a charity of your choice. Address for the Alzheimer Society of BC is #300 – 828 W. 8th Ave., Vancouver, BC, V5Z 1E2.
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