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On my mother, Zee Edgell

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Written by Holly Edgell for Holly World

My mother passed away this morning before the sun rose. I was asleep in the room next door. Her overnight caregiver woke me around 5 a.m. As many will tell you of loved ones who died quietly in their own beds, my mother looked like she was simply asleep when I saw her.

Zee Edgell, 80, did not die of COVID-19. We as a family worked hard to keep that scourge at bay as my mother battled a fairly acute form of leukemia — and her immune system was pretty much shot. Chemo was not ultimately not effective. My heart started to break nearly a year ago, when we learned of her diagnosis and prognosis.

For the past month or so, my mother was comfortable at home with family and hired caregivers. She ate what she wanted, drank as much coffee as she wanted, enjoyed Italian ices as much as she wanted and watched (a lot) of news on her favorite cable networks. She also kept up with the Belize news through Facebook. She read magazines and books.

COVID-19 meant that the Edgells of St. Louis spent a lot more time than usual together. My mother’s grandchildren were able to be around a lot more often, starting in the late spring. Just a few days ago the three took turns reading to their “Grandma Zee” one afternoon. She had several visits from her siblings in 2020 and a beloved niece came to stay as well. There was lots of love and laughter, in spite of everything — including the loss of my father, Al Edgell, in May.

I will write more about my mother as my beloved mom soon, but I did also want to acknowledge all the love and good wishes pouring out for my mother as beloved Belizean author and patriot. Facebook is great for this! All the messages make me feel as if the world has its arms around our family.

Here are some facts even many Belizeans may not know about my amazing mother, who loved her family and her country. You’ll see below the names of her siblings, who have lost their amazing big sister:

Zee Edgell — nee Zelma Inez Tucker

  • Born Oct. 21, 1940 on Cleghorn Street, Belize City, British Honduras
    • Died December 20, 2020 | St. Louis, Missouri, USA 
  • Parents: Veronica O. Tucker (nee Walker) and Clive A. Tucker, both deceased
  • Siblings: Chauncey Barrington “Barry” Tucker; Laura Tucker-Longsworth; Martha Tucker- Eiley, Monica Tucker, Ava Tucker; Alexander “Zandy” Tucker (deceased); Clive A. Tucker, Jr. (deceased); Lenton Tucker (deceased) 
  • Attended Holy Redeemer Primary School and St. Catherine Academy (SCA)
  • Higher education:
    • Honorary doctorate in literature, the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados, 2009 
    • Master of Liberal Studies degree, Kent State University, 2005
    • Diploma in journalism from Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster), 1965 
  • Taught at SCA twice, 1966-68 and 1980-81
  • Worked as a trainee reporter at “The Daily Gleaner” in Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1950s starting at age 18
  • Founded “The Reporter” newspaper, Belize City, 1967
  • Served as director of the Belize Womens’ Bureau (Women’s Dept.), 1981-82 and 1986-87 
  • Made a Member of the British Empire (MBE), 2007
  • Author:
    • Beka Lamb (1982)
    • In Times Like These (1991) 
    • The Festival of San Joaquin (1997)
    • Time and the River (2007)
  • Lecturer, University College of Belize (now the University of Belize), 1988-89
  • Professor of English (tenured), Kent State University (1992-2009)
  • Married to Alvin G. Edgell, 1968-2020 (deceased May 2020, see obituary)
  • Mother of Holly Edgell, 51, and Randall Edgell, 45
  • Grandmother of three: Isaac Edgell, 17; Sophia Edgell, 16; Simon Edgell, 12

Additional resources: 

Zee Edgell’s website

Scholarly works about Zee Edgell 

Zee Edgell reading from her work

Zee Edgell Wikipedia entry

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