My grandmother passed away last month.  Born in Garlands, Jamaica, Isabel Morgan was known as Aunt Bell because she hated to be called grandma or anything like that.  This was the same lady who escaped her nursing home three times by scaling the 10 foot fence around her nursing home.  So we kind of took it for granted that she’d be around for a while longer.  She was 94 and passed away in her sleep.

Her funeral was August 1st and was something closer to something of a state funeral.

Aunt Bell and kidsAunt Bell left behind a huge legacy:  15 children, 71 grandchildren, 134 great-grandchildren, and 20 great-great-grandchildren.  One day she announced that she had to run into town for some bread.  She went into town, got on a plane, and went to England.  I guess she was tired of having children.  [My grandfather went on to have a total of 53 kids with various women.  We have a family bush, not a family tree.  It gets very complicated very quickly.  But when he passed, the women were lined up to hear the reading of the will.  Aunt Bell walked into the room and announced “we never divorced.  You can all go home now.”]

I always had a weird relationship with Aunt Bell.  She always called me “the con man” as in her saying “hide your purse, the con man’s here” whenever I entered a room.  So I made a point of calling her “grandma” and risked her notorious “heavy hand.”  I did mention her scaling walls when she was 94?

My boys loved the story of me pestering her while she was watching wrestling.  She was a huge fan and I harassed her about it being fake.  She sat at the foot of the bed while I jumped on it behind her imitating the fakeness of their moves.  Without looking back, she reached around, grabbed by my shirt, and threw me over her shoulder into the wall.  I was 14.

When I got married in 2000, we had a family reunion in Jamaica (where that pic was taken) that same summer.  I was explaining to Aunt Bell how we had plans to wait a few years before having children.  She looked me in the eye and said “I want a grandchild from you.  Now.”  I walked back to my room, looked my wife in the eye and said “we need to try having a kid.  Now.”  She asked “Are you sure?”

“Aunt Bell said so.”

The next week we were pregnant with my oldest.

Aunt Bell was feared, respected, and loved.  A force of nature who leaves a huge hole in our hearts and a lot to live up to.