Grenadian mom pens letter to departed matriarch

Yvette Noel Schure is comforted by New Jersey funeral director recently. Her husband David Schure looks on.
Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

Mothers Day 2016 will forever resonate with memories of Carmel Noel’s last day on earth. The Birch Grove, St. Andrew-born Grenadian mother and grand-mother held firm to the sentiments of the day despite an impending appointment some would describe as a date with the God.

May 9, two hours after the celebrated day ended, at 2:13, Noel slipped away and her daughter Yvette, one of Noel’s seven children texted out a message saying “she accepted her wings at 2:13.”

According to Noel’s eldest, Yvonne, the number 13 has always factored in marking significant family events.

She said her sister Marva who bears the most resemblance to her mother and her brother Denzil were born on the same February date — 2/13.

“Marva came to America and graduated on 5/13 and May 13 we said goodbye to her.”

On May 13, Trevor, Marva, Jean, Yvonne, Yvette and Denzil inscribed another entry to register the date they will always recall to be important to their parent.

Along with friends, relatives and what seemed like the entire village of Birch Grove, Noel’s life was recalled as the 25-year-old bride of the late Denis Noel.

Ex-patriots said that together the couple welcomed Aubrey, their first child who unfortunately died in infancy.

How Noel mysteriously battled illnesses afterwards became a concern to the family but was relieved ultimately when her condition was diagnosed to be a bi-polar disorder.

Since arriving here, Noel suffered many medical challenges that kept her in constant care by her loving children.

The Grenadian immigrant died at age 86 in New Jersey.

Here is a letter, Yvette penned and read in eulogy to her departed mother.

“A letter to Mommy from an immigrant child…all grown up:”

Dear Mommy:

I wanted to write to you today to let you know that you have left a hole in my heart. But you have also taught me so much that I know I have got to get to healing. But first let me say thank you.

Thank you for your resilience.

Thank you for your strength, your determination, wit, humor, belief in God, your deep spirituality and your love. No one loved as you did.

So unconditional.

So selfless.

So caring, so honest.

Thank you for my sisters and brothers.

The big, beautiful, high-spirited bunch that we are.

What would life be without them? So great to see all the ways two people’s DNA could manifest.

Who is tall, who is short, who has your hair, who has daddy’s cheekbones, your cute nose, your strong legs. Who inherited your love of books (Yvonne), who talks too much!! (ME!!!) So many gifts you have given.

When you left to come to America, I was about seven years old, maybe six and I don’t really remember what you looked like when you departed but how gorgeous you looked when you came back. I can still feel my cheeks flapping from the wind underneath the Pan Am jet at Pearls Airport on the far end of the island.

I loved receiving those beautiful photos you sent in your letters and I have to confess, every time Mama and Papa said we could go to the movies, I secretly scanned the street scenes of NY hoping you would be in there. You never were. I learned years later, those people were actors, too.

But there you were coming down the stairs of the jet, the most beautiful dress, your silk scarf tied under your neck.

Your shades, your bag, your shoes. My mother the movie star! I remember the hugs. I wanted them to last forever.

It would be seven whole years before I could live with you full time and listen to your endless stories and your recitation of the 33 verses poem, you knew by heart. Papa insisted that we needed a proper Grenadian upbringing so most of us had to wait to be at least 14 before we could join you and Daddy. But when I arrived to 836 Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, we quickly changed roles. I saw you in crisis and I wanted to take care of you. You needed my love but you needed me to care for you even more. Your fragile mental state, your big heart, all needed pampering.

Remember our endless afternoons at the G-Building Clarkson? Remember I did not want to leave you and we would tell the nurse, that I still had to comb your hair?

I want to tell you that taking care of you was the single most important honor in my life. I did not know I was brave, until I looked into your eyes. I did not know I could be selfless until I watched you care for your grandchildren in a committed gratitude of second chances. What you gave in return will sustain us, your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the rest of our lives.

Thank you for never scolding me….not even once. Thank you for always believing in me. Thank you for not sending David away when he fell in love with me and I was only 17, and most importantly thank you for not telling Daddy that I did not come home after our first date, even though I knew your heart was breaking with worry.

Thank you for stepping in and taking care of Michael at the most crucial time in his life. Even when you were having your own balancing issues, you put us first. Thank you for bringing me a little sister in Jean, when we all thought you were done!!

Thank you for being well enough to not miss key moments in all our lives, weddings, graduations, recitals. God knew when we needed you most and suddenly you would be delivered from the imbalance. Thank you for loving my friends who today mourn with us. Thank you for loving your family so deeply, you brothers and sisters, your cousins, who in turn love us so.

Thank you for leaving us in the care of the most incredible family and community who never let us down and stood in for you when you couldn’t.

The amazing Ruffins of course, but the Lewis and Charles, too. Thank you!!

Mommy, thank you for falling in love with Daddy, a broken man — and rising above his faults to truly show us how to forgive and forget.

When you finished your earthly journey last Monday morning, it was after a beautiful last rites ceremony witness only by Father Peter, David and me. You waited for your anointing. And in doing so you’ve re-awaken my belief in the unmistaken spiritual bond. You were teaching us all lessons in your final two hours on earth.

To be strong, to be brave, to be loved.

Mommy, you remain a beautiful light in our collective hearts and we will love you always. I know for sure that death ends a life, not a relationship.

With love,

Your daughter Yvette

Yvette’s youngest daughter Milan Noel Schure holds portrait of her grandmother Carmel Noel.
Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

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