When I was young, Carole was one of those kind mothers who would take you in as one of her own in a moment’s heartbeat. It’s hard to emphasize how precious that sentiment can be. Like the shade of a tree or the firmament of the earth, the roots she laid down in our community became the ground that I walked upon. Carole made this world firmer to the touch for me. More real. More like home. The truth of this can be seen by how many of us have a similar recollection of her warm and reassuring presence. I am sure that every one of us has sheltered beneath the canopy of her concern and consideration for our well-being.

Carole cared. She cared about the people around her, she cared about her family, the friends of her family, their families. I do not actually know where that line ended for her. From what I saw, it seemed to stretch off into the horizon.

The last time I saw Carole was last Christmas. It had been a minute since we last spoke and she was radiant with joy to see me. Radiant and critical in the way only a mother can be. Was I taking care of myself? How was my trip? Had I eaten? Would I like anything to drink?

I was delighted to see her again, flush with the vibrant glow of a Christmas evening, so full of life and curiosity. We talked about books, what had changed, or not. And I see now how those simple questions, that amicable joy at reunion, that matronly glow is what made Carole such a pillar for our community. And I see now how the roots she had so slowly fostered will continue to sustain the forests of our families. I see now how the canopy she had matured all her life will continue to shade us from the harsh sunlight of a capricious world.

To Carole, who was a forest of kindness unto herself. I will miss you. You will remain familiar in my home, in my heart, in my friends, in my family, and in my community. You have left more than a mark – you have left a foundation of trust and love. And we will never forget you.