Eulogy for Carole….

Eulogy for Carole….

I’m not sure as I begin to write this post what length it will be, or even how I will approach it. I have waited several days since returning from the memorial service in Atlanta to begin the process until it began to write itself, inspiration being a funny thing, when the words and thoughts and memories flowing so quickly that I race to keep up while typing. When notions spring from the heart it can be easier to write about, but sometimes, as in this case, more difficult as well. For me, the new year usually brings contemplation, review and often recalibration, and this year it brought an even deeper assessment. I have been so incredibly privileged in my life to experience deep friendships. Some with older women, some with younger, and all varied but so enriching. It is not easy to write about loss, it’s pain, it’s challenge to how you will now live in the world and so much more. Yet I feel drawn to write about friendship, and how this person was in my life, how she will remain in it, and what she added such that I feel so grateful that our paths crossed. So let me begin.

Carole Ann Moores. We met back in the early 90’s through Newfoundland Rescue. Although I showed dogs and Carol not so much, we were instantly linked by our love for this noble breed. We were very different in so many ways, ways that might often bring one to question it’s possibility – she was an extrovert, I was an introvert. We thought differently relevant to religion, politics, and a host of other topics, we were different ages, yet the friendship grew and evolved over all these many years. Our shared love for Newfs, gardens, travel never faltered.

“A friend…..awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you” John O’Donohue

Friends can challenge your way of being in the world. Let me say now, that I am so grateful for the technology that lets people communicate instantly over long distances. At the time I met Carole, she  lived in Greensboro, NC and I just outside of it. When I look back on it almost every visit was to our horse farm, where she would often come to drop off the newest rescue Newf, but it also seemed she could not get enough of the horses and all our dogs. We would sit on the grass or on one of the many Adirondack chairs in front of the house or kennel and talk, or often we would wander through the gardens with a glass of something cold, the dogs or a cat lazily following. Sometimes we ended up in the barn sitting in the rockers at the end of the barn aisle – she used to say she needed a whiff of the horses close up to get her through the rest of the day. Our contacts back then were mostly in person and usually included something related to a Newf rescue. Then life swiftly changed. She was moving to Atlanta and we were contemplating selling the farm and moving to Virginia. This was a desired change for us and not so much for her, forcing her to reinvent herself with the support of her children. She left behind a lot. My husband Phillip and I helped her as best we could. I somehow knew that we would stay in touch. I just felt sure of it. She traveled back to NC several times and stayed with us while she tied up loose ends, and we would see each other at some Newfoundland event around Georgia or Florida. Our conversations morphed more into philosophical discussions as well as the  mundane. Carole was very bright, wise and funny and despite the challenges ahead of her, optimistic. Her faith and a Newf had a lot to do with her outlook, and it would remain that way for the rest of her life. This woman rebuilt her life, and I was so proud of her.

Carole with Keeper & Luci


Why write about a friend on a home and garden design blog? Because Carole was a huge presence behind the genesis of this blog. I wrote often for dog forums and publications. I mentioned once or twice about maybe writing about the other career and passion in my life, design and gardening. Carole loved to decorate and garden and insisted that she would love to discover more about it. She pushed the idea of me blogging by calling or emailing and asking me if I had started the process. Then, exasperated when I said I was still thinking about it finally said, “just do it, really, just go for it”. So I did and registered my domain names and with the technical help of KBJ, who also encouraged me, the blog came alive.  Carole was my very first subscriber. She commented or called to share her enthusiasm for many, many posts. When you are just starting out, you are writing for a small and mostly unknown audience. She encouraged me, cajoled a few others to subscribe, and I was off and running. She always reminded me that the blog was what she looked forward to reading in the morning, and assured me that soon others would also be so inclined. She would go to her sunroom or out to her garden with her coffee and Luci and “just enjoy”. I will always be indebted and grateful for the push she gave me to write and her continued enthusiasm, encouragement and delight in this blog.

A part of Carole’s garden. Her son Robert inherited her gift for gardening, and together with his wife Victoria have created incredibly beautiful and well thought out garden spaces.


Luci in Carole’s garden. Keeper, her other Newf had passed several years ago, so now she had only Luci for company.



Years before my blog, Carole, along with a core of loyal and loving friends, supported me through the sudden and difficult loss of my husband long before his time. They never wavered, never faltered in literally holding me up through grief and then my own life threatening illness. I love these women, these couples and one special single man, and would walk through fire for them, fiercely come to their defense or need if ever a circumstance arises. I, like Carole, had now moved to a new state, and for me, no family close by, and  knowing no one. From hither and yonder, they offered themselves, helping me to see that I had a lot to do yet with my life. I believed them.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe it self….It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gives value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

Nowhere does the beauty, mystery and soul sustenance of friendship come more alive than in the relationships I have had with these people. I am enriched by them beyond any measure. As an introvert, I was sometimes reluctant to speak my thoughts, yet each one of these friends filled a niche, and the loss of even one can diminish the whole if you let it. But I have learned through personal losses that loss can expand concern, empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings, for all living things, for the earth. Love is expansive. And in the end, that is all there is, or that matters….love.

One of my absolute favorite books is Anam Cara, by John O’Donohue. My second copy is as dog-eared and underlined as the first completely worn & eventually tossed copy. In short, Anam Cara is Gaelic for friend of the soul, a person with whom you could share your heart and mind. Anam Cara allows for revelation without judgement. You can be who you really are, who you are meant to be, who you were born to be. No one can see themselves as others do, and this kind of friend mirrors back to you your authentic self. In other words, you were understood and came to understand more of yourself because you had a friend to your soul. It is risky except with friends like I have had in my life. If you have such, there evolves a deep and enduring friendship based on trust. Carole and I had this, despite the miles between us.

Let me tell you I really do not like to talk on the phone. I never have. Although we emailed back and forth, exchanged photos, we talked on the phone the most, and marathon calls were usually the end result. Actually, we never really talked on the phone as much as laughed our way through our discussions. We discussed all manner of things, politics, religion, movies, books, life, you name it (she got me started on Downton Abbey!). We recognized and allowed for the idea that our identities can and should be fluid, so despite our differences in areas mentioned above, we had wide ranging conversations about ideas or concepts where our views were sometimes widely and wildly divergent. Without these conversations we both agreed that we might not have considered another’s point of view, and in fact, we actually acknowledged that our own viewpoint sometimes moved in a direction that it surely would not have had we stayed with our original opinion position without the discourse. (However, even when our opinion didn’t move, we both felt understood and respected). Over the many years, we enjoyed frequent dialogue approached with honesty, mutual respect and a profound friendship. And we both were enriched and changed by it. But most of all, no matter the seriousness of the substance of our discussion, we always somehow made it to laughter. We could find humor in just about anything. You know you have got the best friends ever when the only time they make you cry is because you are laughing so hard and cannot stop. Laughter punctuated almost every one of our conversations; laughing until our tummies ached, our eyes filled with tears and our noses started running kind of laughter. Sometimes we both snorted at the same time kind of laughter. On several occasions one or the other would say I have to call you back, either because we couldn’t catch our breath from laughing so hard, or because it created an urgency that necessitated the loo. These fits of laughter were usually brought on by a dog story of antics we lived on a daily basis, or by the comedy of life, or turning something serious into a lighter frame of mind from which to view it, and there really was no point in trying to continue talking. It was best to hang up until such time when we were both back under control. Carole had a terrific laugh. She was somehow able to talk with an undercurrent of laughter and seriousness threaded through her words all at the same time. I have never met anyone else able to do that. A few times we would both try and call back at the same time, get a busy signal, assume the other person would wait while the other dialed back again, repeat, repeat, and by then we were already cracking ourselves up, so that by the time we reconnected, we were  laughing ourselves silly-again. That is often how we decided, ok, let’s save some for another day. And there was always another day to look forward to until now. I am so going to miss talking to her.

This past early spring, Carole called me right after a supposedly routine exam that ended in a diagnosis of possible stage IV cancer. She didn’t smoke. She said she felt stunned because she did not feel at all sick, in fact, she said she felt great. I said to her that they must have made a mistake, are you going to get a second opinion? She called back later and said that the scans had confirmed it. I told her that I would support her come hell or high water in whatever way she wanted or needed. Her response? “Just stay my friend”. You got it. She also told me that whatever happened that she was at peace because she knew where she was going if treatment failed her. Her faith and the love of her family, friends and her beloved Newf Luci, would help her she said. She admitted to being scared, that she had already cried tears into Luci’s neck fur, but she was aided and comforted by her faith and strong will, optimism and hope. Her name means strong, and she delivered on that adjective over and over all during her life. Her strength was supported by her amazing family. Her caring and delightful daughter Shannon made sure we were all kept abreast of Carole’s condition when it was difficult for Carole to receive or want visitors. I will always be grateful that in her own time of facing the loss of her mother she cared enough about Carole’s friends to give us updates.

Speaking of her family? She had four children and seven grandchildren. Carole cared for her family with so much love. All the grandchildren were in Atlanta and her pride and pleasure in them and her children knew no bounds. The grandchildren called her Mimi. Oh my, how she adored those kids. She would often sit for them, take each on individual outings or trips for one on one time with Mimi, often to Asheville. I loved when she called or emailed a photo of some event or accomplishment.

Carole, Mimi to her grandchildren, with all seven of them.


With one of her granddaughters.


She cooked the Italian 7 fishes dinner every Christmas and loved to decorate her home seasonally, but especially for the holidays. She loved, loved Christmas, and had gone out this fall to buy a new color scheme for this year. She kept Hobby Lobby and Pier One in business. I am not kidding! She loved to garden and had a beautiful one at her townhouse, including fairy gardens for her and the younger grandchildren to play in. Luci, her Newf would be always at her side. When she was in the hospital with complications, Shannon arranged for Luci to visit her and her spirits were lightened. She sent me a short video and I was incredibly moved.

I posted about Fairy gardens and Carole was so smitten with the idea she went to her favorite places to gather items and built one for herself and the younger granddaughters to enjoy together.


Just before the holidays Carole was at a point that she would have to give up her home and her gardens. She needed more help that was closer by. Up until then, her children had been making the longer trek from their homes when trips to the ER or complications arose, or just to check on her or accompany her to chemo. This was so difficult for her. Her son Mickey and his wife lovingly swept into action and  built and prepared a beautiful apartment in their home. It was always the plan that she would, when “she got old” she said, move in with them, just not now. Unfortunately just as they were moving her in she ended up in the hospital with complications from the treatments. The family was devastated. They were able to arrange to get her home with Hospice. Shannon stayed with her all day and Mickey at night while their spouses held down the fort, and she was able to have Luci and her family by her side when she passed from this world, within view of the lake that she so enjoyed on her visits to her son’s home. The entire family was able to say their goodbyes and tell her what she had meant to them, and to tell her over and over how much they loved her. According to her daughter Shannon, her last words were, with her hands on Luci’s head, “my sweet baby, Luci”.

Carole faced her fears, including the prospect of dying with amazing strength, grace and faith. She was devoted to her family, and was such a wonderful friend to all who knew her. She never met a stranger. When she would be out and about with one of her Newfs, she drew a crowd. She loved to introduce people to them. When the EMT’s brought her home for the last time, they got her into her bed, and the family had put Luci up so as not have her in the way until Carole was settled. Carole by then was semi conscious, but when she realized that the EMT’s had not yet met Luci, her daughter said that she insisted that they meet her! In her mind, if they were introduced to family, well, Luci was family. She always loved to see people’s reactions when the huge bear dog came out to greet them. In her state, she was still able to manage a faint smile.

Carole’s older Newf that moved with her to Atlanta had died, and for the longest time she had hoped for one from me. That is how she acquired a puppy named Keeper, another heart dog for her. She got a canine good citizenship title on him, a therapy dog standing and more. She volunteered with him as a reading assistance dog in schools, where they encouraged children to develop a love of reading by reading to the dogs, who did not judge them, nor care how long it took to read a chapter. She was devoted to and loved Newfs for more than 40 years, a wonderful ambassador for the breed.

Carole left me Luci. We drove down for the memorial service and brought this beautiful girl home with us. She is presently at my feet, and I now have a piece, an important piece of Carole with me. How blessed am I to have known this wonderful woman? More than you will ever know. I finally got to meet Shannon and Mickey and Lauren, and the kids, and I feel connected to them in a way that is hard to define. I knew so much about them, and immediately felt protective of their hearts. Robert and his wife Victoria live in Asheville, a favorite destination for Carole, and could not attend because of Roberts illness, but I feel the same about them. The blog has been a place where friendship can and has flourished. It is an amazing opportunity to get to know people and an immense responsibility.

So Carole, my dear, sweet friend. I will miss you. I am so sorry that we did not get to travel back to Italy together like we planned. I loved you and I told you often so that you believed it. I promised you that I would watch over your treasured Luci, and to hold your memory so close to my heart that you will never be forgotten. I look into Luci’s eyes and I see what you saw, and I swear I see a reflection of you. The Newfoundland Standard says that temperament is the hallmark of the breed, benevolent, noble, devoted and highly intelligent. We always joked that people should be more like Newfies. Carole, you were, and I thank you for being in my life. love, charisse

A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine.A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart, and he’ll give you his.How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?~ John Grogan

 



Rest in Peace dear friend.


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Comments

  1. Charisse..
    What a beautiful tribute to Carole!
    Anyway, I only knew Carole a few short years, but know she was brought into my life for a reason and now we are connected through her and the Newfs.
    Your writing is beautiful and you are so very talented. I would like to subscribe to your blog.
    Karen

  2. Beautiful! Your an amazingly gifted writer, it takes someone special to be able to put into words your true feelings and for them to come alive on the page. Carol would be so proud of the tribute you’ve written what a very special relationship you had, one you’ll be able to cherish for the rest of your life. My heart is sad for such a loss…Stay strong dear friend and love on that Luci your meant for each other….x

    • Thank you Kim, I am going to miss Carole for sure, but her memory will always remain with me, especially now, with having Luci here.Thanks for taking the time to write. Much appreciated.

  3. THANK YOU!!!

  4. As always i awoke this morning, let the dogs out, grabbed my coffee and then sat down to read my e-mails. Whimsical Home & Garden popped up so of course this is the first message I started reading! What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend Carole. As you know Cie I am Jersey tough!! I don’t cry very much but This tribute had the tears rolling down my face. You were such a good friend to her as you are to all of your friends! Lucy is just gorgeous and I know Carole is resting easy knowing she is with you and you will take such good care of her! Takes a special person to take someone else dog and give it a home although you have rescued so many other dogs this one is a lot different. KBJ gets a big thumbs up also as he has come in to your life and helped in so many ways (accepting dogs for one thing)! Anyway I digress….thank you for writing about Carole as now I feel almost like I knew her and would have liked her.

  5. Victoria Moores :

    Oh my goodness, Charisse! This is so beautiful! Thank you for this precious tribute! I felt like I was with her while I was reading this perfect description of Carole. We miss her so very much!

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