18 February 2011

Lilah Bell (1908-2011)

This is the picture of my grandmother, Lilah Bell, that accompanied her induction into the Davenport, Iowa, school system’s Hall of Honor.

Grandma kept busy her whole life in the Iowa half of the Quad Cities. She became a nurse, then a manager at the visiting nurse association. She founded the homemaking service of that organization, and in “retirement” served on community boards and as a volunteer organizer. When Grandma was in her nineties, she was looking after the affairs of women who were younger and more debilitated. After she lost a lot of her sight to macular degeneration, she started to organize speakers for a group of people with vision problems, which she was still doing this year at age 102.

Grandma Lilah helped Grandpa Bud built their little house in Pleasant Valley back in the Depression. He brought in professionals only for the electricity and the brickwork, I believe. All her life she kept the little notebook where she recorded the costs.

In that house Grandma and Grandpa raised two sons, who both became college professors—work that took them away from Iowa. We grandchildren are even more spread out. Fortunately, Grandma’s church provided a wonderful local community to help her in these last years when she had to give up driving. (No doubt to the relief of the Quad Cities area—ever ridden 15 MPH on an interstate? I have.)

Grandma never wanted to leave her little house. She had to go into the hospital earlier this year for pneumonia, and worked hard to get back home. Then she had a fall, and her doctors insisted she recover in nursing home where the facilities and supervision were better. She lasted there three days, and died in her sleep. A truly full life.


Mordena said...

I'm sorry for your loss, John. She sounds like an amazing woman.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks, Mordena. She remains an inspiration to the whole family.

Melissa Stewart said...

John, I'm very sorry for your loss. Grandparents are very special people.