Beryl Ionie Johnson was born on January 18, 1933 to Linette and Stanley Johnson in the parish of Trelawny. In her late pre-teen years, she was dispatched by her mother to the home of her cousin, who lived in the little district of Harris Road near to Lime Tree Gardens in the parish of St Ann. While there, she attended the Lime Tree Gardens Elementary School where she pursued and successfully negotiated the first, second and third Jamaica Local Examinations. Having passed the aforementioned, she qualified to pursue training as a nurse in England.
At the age of 18, she laid hold of the opportunity as soon as it came her way and was off to study to become a nurse in England to fulfill her desire to care for the sick and dying. During her time in England, she became an upstanding member of the British Overseas Nurses Association. Her passion to care for others led her to becoming a Registered Nurse, later moving into obstetrics. Gran decided she wanted to do more and broadened her ability to care for others and migrated to Canada where she successfully took and passed the provincial examination. These additional accomplishments allowed her to pour her care and love into those in an acute setting and ill children confined to hospital beds.
She later journeyed from Canada to the United States of America where she was a member of the American Red Cross Nurses Association, operated as a Public Health Nurse at Albert Einstein Hospital and later as the Director of Nurses to Teaching and Research at Stonybrook Hospital. Gran retired after approximately 45 years of service to care for her ailing husband Cecile Browne.
Anyone that was familiar with her knew she was a former RN because she never hesitated to share it through the use of medical terminology or simply saying, “I’m an RN”. I’d remind her she was retired and with her usual sass and humors tone, she’d turn to me and say, “Kim! Once a nurse, ALWAYS a nurse!”
She was like an older sister to her cousins, whom she helped to rear and discipline. They have never forgotten how protective she was of them. She regarded them as the little brothers and sisters which she did not have – but in them, she felt like she had. Uncle Lem, the eldest, remembers the Sunday “Sister Bibby” (as they called her) was baptized in her pre-teens. Her faith in the Lord grew from there and never wavered.
While in the United States she filed for her mother Linette and Sydonnie, (Kimberley’s late mom), who had been reared, legally adopted by Linette, and given the surname “Johnson”.
In a sweet, nostalgic, sentiment, Uncle Lem and Uncle Nasi (Robbie as she affectionately called him) shared, “It was always a profound pleasure to visit and spend time with Sister Bibby in New York at whatever location in the city that she was living at the time. The “big sistering” remains unforgettable, for she was ever solicitous of our comfort while we stayed with her. She who cared for others, needed to be cared for. Kimberley, others of her family, close friends, her beloved cat Mindy, and church family from the First Baptist Church of Patchogue did for the rest of us what we could not do because of distance.”
As she aged, the rigors of growing older began to take their course and her visits to the doctor and the hospital became more frequent. Gran shared with me of the exhaustion she felt, and she was ready to be in one place and rest. The woman I knew as a mini energizer bunny was ready to be still. She lived and transitioned in the manner she longed for.
On December 11, 2020, she gained her wings while sleeping. I – or rather, we, all mourn; but to never have been touched by her love, jokes and laughter would have been the greater loss.-
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