In Praise of the Life of
Carol Coutu Boulette
I first met Carol Boulette 47 years ago. I had just started dating her older sister and that made us a tempting target for her 13 year old pranks. We quickly learned it was not safe to sit on the couch in the living room. When we did, Carol and younger brother Bill would go to the heat register on the second floor, drop things on us and then giggle.
We told her weíd get even when she started having boyfriends. And we did. When her prom date arrived to pick her up I slipped out the back door, came to the front and knocked. When the door was opened for me I asked, "is Carol ready?" I came into the room, kissed her, looked at her date and asked, "Whoís this?"
Carolís dark beauty and petite figure caught the eye of more than one young man. She found Russ Boulette in the shoe shop in Ware and fell as heavily for him and he did for her. She was 18 when she married him. Carol and Russ became Godparents to our son, Mike, about a month before their firstborn, LouAnn, arrived.
Carol and Russ had a productive marriage. Duane was the next product of their love followed by Shelley, Russ Jr. and Monna. It was a happy brood. They bought the big house on Main Street in East Brookfield and filled it with love and life. Carol was never so happy as when she was playing the role of loving mother, and later, doting grandmother.
Economic reality reared its ugly head: seven mouths are costly to feed and Carol had to do her part. Until the onset of her fatal illness, she worked long and hard on many jobs, some of which I must admit Iím glad I never had. Still, she found the time to cook, clean, sew, discipline, coach and love. She was a mother with a capital M.
One winter day on her way to work the car she was riding in hit a patch of black ice and then a tree. Carol suffered a broken neck, an injury that usually kills, but God spared her to go on living and loving.
Husband Russell has always been an athlete and an outdoorsman: hunter, fisherman and sports fan. May God have mercy on him for being a Yankee fan! Some years ago the clan joined the Hamilton Rod & Gun Club and took up archery. Not to be outdone by her husband and gifted children, Carol took up the sport, too. It was Mom who became a state champion Ė a hard act to follow.
Carol was a talented seamstress and crafter. She could take thread and a yard or two of plush fabric and produce a teddy bear to be loved for generations to come. When she learned that American Home Sewing in Ware was to close, she and daughter LouAnn bought it and ran it for several years until economic reality forced its closing.
The week before Easter she worked her usual 50 hour week, went grocery shopping and started to cook Easter Dinner.
She was "klutzy". Kept dropping things. Made a joke of it.
The next morning it was no longer a joke. It felt like a stroke. Her doctor ordered her to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester for tests. The dreaded verdict was cancer. No only cancer, but a brain tumor.
Her response was predictable: "If the broken neck didnít get me, this wonít."
She was wrong. She went though radiation but it didnít stop the malignancy that was attacking her fragile body. She moved on to chemotherapy but it is seldom effective against brain tumors. She was losing the fight.
Through it all, she never lost her sense of humor. Father George visited and tried his French on her. Later, she admitted that the only French she knew would be inappropriate to use in a conversation with a priest.
Finally, there were no more answers. No miracle cures. No more hope of Divine intervention. God had made his decree and as much as we disliked it he was calling her home.
The end was not easy. Despite the efforts of her loving children and husband. Despite the heroic stand of Jamie Dionne, Joan Smith, Paul and Evelyn Coutu, Debbie Joyce, Fran Dingman, Tom and Alice Losaw and especially Sis Corbett, Carol was slipping away.
When the end came it was a time of rejoicing. She was safe home. With Doris and Al. With Bill, Ken and Patsy. Safe in Godís arms. Free from pain.
God speed, Carol. Weíll miss you as we loved you: tons, and tons, and tons.
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