MONTEGO BAY, St James — KINDNESS is a long-running thread woven into the life of retired seamstress Gurdellia Campbell-Fowler and it is the main recollection of family members of the centenarian hailing from rural St James.
Campbell-Fowler, the eldest of eight children, was born on July 2, 1922 in Vaughansfield, St James, and later moved to Bogue Hill, also in the parish. She attended Vaughansfield and Maldon Primary schools, eventually exiting in grade 6.
Judith Roper, one of 12 children for Campbell-Fowler, fondly remembers her mom as a disciplinarian but stressed that her main trait was one of kindness.
"My mother was kind to everyone, especially elderly and sick persons. She was a loving person but very quick-tempered — don't mess with her as she's going to let you have it! The best quality about her though was her kindness. Wherever she was residing, she would find the old and sickly persons. She would wash, feed and bathe them, even if they had family members. She never held a grudge; even persons that wronged her she would forgive them quickly and still extend kindness to them," Roper expressed.
"She would sew all our clothes, including my underwear and our brothers' and father's clothes as well, because she couldn't afford to buy them. If persons in the community were unable to pay, that wasn't a deterrent, she would still sew for them. My mother would wash every day, her nails were never dirty. She was not heavy into home-making but she would bake sometimes. But, she always cooked our food. She was very jovial, an avid domino player, and very talkative."
Campbell-Fowler was a lover of chocolate and mangoes and would eat the latter down to the seed. She also had a wealth of knowledge of her family lineage, herbs and plants for various ailments, the family members told the Jamaica Observer West.
Unfortunately, she suffered a stroke five years ago which resulted in some memory loss and her being bedridden.
Her grandchildren expressed that she was very protective of them, not allowing parents or relatives to beat them, yet as a parent she never spared the rod.
"My mother couldn't beat me, couldn't touch me. If they raised their hands, grandma lick dem dung. She taught me how to play dominoes. I couldn't beat her, eventually had to cheat by looking at the reflection in her glasses to win," expressed Phillip Yapp, the first grandchild for Campbell-Fowler.
"My grandmother was very articulate; she would correct your grammar. She loved reading the newspaper and read it from cover to cover, and it's from her I got my love for reading," explained Kamra Fowler, another of Campbell-Fowler's grandchildren.
Longevity is not rare in the family as Fowler's mother lived to 96, a grandmother to 102, an uncle to 101, and her younger sister is 88 years old.