Some months ago, we lost part of our 2nd Generation; Carole Chaet. I suggested to Paul we write a piece about his mother as one of the many people who helped us get to the place we are today. Paul asked if I would write it and I agreed. I have experienced the profound loss of parents and when I read Paul’s notes it was clear, this would be a letter of love and thanks from a grateful son.
This is my interpretation of Paul’s notes along with my respect and gratitude for being in Carole Chaet’s orbit.
I asked Paul to tell me the first word that came to mind when I said his mother’s name and without hesitation, he replied REBEL. I smile. The definition of REBEL is “a person who rises in opposition or resistance against an established government or ruler.” In its verb version “rise in opposition or resistance to an established government or ruler.” Carole personified REBEL both in its noun and verb form.
Carole began her life in Boston, specifically Roxbury. She was a double promoted, high school graduate who was 16 when she made an attempt at college. She had enough self-possession to know this is too early for her and embarked on a path that led her back to college and a life to rival any.
Before the career resume, she marries Paul’s Dad, Mick, at 19. They love each other for 72 years which stands on its own merit until her death in July 2022. During these 72 years she has children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She mothered by her own rules and beliefs that included care and freedom. Carole was a person capable of maintaining friendships from childhood along with friendships met throughout her 90 years. She enjoyed a profound personal life that is accentuated by her career biography.
Carole revisits college while being a mother and graduates with: Bachelor of Arts – 1969 and Master of Education – 1975. Carole was an educator. She worked in the Sudbury school system, Cambridge Rindge and Latin and Simmons University. Carole was a fierce defender of civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights. She believed in social justice and social change. She was pro ERA and against all war. Carole shared all these aspects with her children including antiwar demonstrations and pro ERA meetings. They lived experiences many of us only read about.
If you can believe it there is an AND…
Carole pursues and achieves her Doctorate. Her Dissertation topic, “Mitigating the Effects of a Racist Society through Social Studies Interventions.” (Please find an excerpt attached). She is a person of quality, thought and a desire for the world to be better through education and action.
Her Dissertation spoke volumes about the force that was Carole Chaet. She began her Dissertation with this quote:
“Behind every successful woman is herself
And a loving and supportive family!”
Carole continued with the following paragraphs taken directly from her Dissertation submitted to Boston University, 1985 for Doctor of Education.
“-I could not have done half of the things I have accomplished in my personal and professional life without the unqualified support of my husband, Matthew Chaet, and the knowledge that my children and children-in-law believe in me.”
“-Thank you to my friends and colleagues at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School who share with me a concern for social justice and who willingly take risks to promote a better society for all children”
Carole was so far ahead of her time, a purveyor of her own truth and a pursuer of knowledge, an influencer-OG style. Over her professional life she will take her case to other influencers. She will argue and negotiate to try to make educational and social change.
With loss there is immense pain, but we are mindful Carole was many things: daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, defender, educator, reformist, activist, and a woman who gave and received great love.
It is a surreal place where we feel thankfulness, happiness, and sadness at the same time; but we get up, go to work, realize we are she and she is not lost to us. Carole’s life was well lived, and it is this writer’s sincerest hope, fulfilled.
Our 2022 closes on a somber note. We feel the love of those who have gone before us and of those who remain. We are thankful to all of them and above all we remember.
This writer closes with the sincerest hope I have done Carole, the Chaet Family, and Paul, justice with this article.
Elaine M. O’Neill