Caroline Boye was my best friend. She was my mentor, mother, friend and inspiration. She died on December 14, 2010. Caroline and I spoke every day on the phone for many years. She would say, “tell it to me like a story” and I would then tell her all about my day. Caroline was my greatest champion. She believed I could do anything. I believe she was pivotal in who I am today. Caroline would be very pleased if she were here today.
Caroline grew up in Kingston, Ontario. I never knew her age but I suspect she was 20 years older than me. Her parents were lovely – I met them a few times but I knew them through the eyes of Caroline’s daughter, Wade. Wade adored her grandparents, Blanche and Lester (Nana & Poppy). They were solid and “normal”. Caroline must have really surprised them when she left for Mexico after graduation to study and become a flamenco dancer. She was beautiful. She looked like Elizabeth Taylor.
I met Caroline in the early 90’s. I had just started selling African clothing and crafts with my Sudanese husband, Hassan. I was selling in outdoor markets and from my home. Caroline called me one day and she wanted to see what I had. She was opening a consignment store for plus size women and wanted some pieces to accent the store. She bought a piece of mudcloth from me and had it made into this beautiful piece.
Caroline brought adventure and fun and beauty into my life when times were pretty tough. She took me to restaurants that I could not have afforded. She would have me drive her to Detroit or Buffalo for shopping adventures. She would pay the gas, lunch and usually a little treat. She would shop all the plus size stores, the wig shops and more. There were a couple of occasions she had me wear a wig across the border. One wig was a long blonde one with very long bangs – we stopped for lunch and I had to hold the bangs up to eat my hamburger. Another time the wig was a beautiful auburn colour and a spiky Tina Turner style. I remember going into a service centre and some nasty woman saying are you two women celebrating Hallowe’en early? Caroline would brush off a comment like that – clearly that woman didn’t know style!!
Once she asked me to paint 2 unfinished canes with an African motif. I had never painted anything in my life but she believed I could and I did and they were great. She used them as a prop in her shop. She encouraged me to be a plus size model. What an experience! It was so empowering. I felt beautiful and exceptional but that is how Caroline always made me feel. I “borrowed” an expensive dress from The Bay for my photo shoot. I remember they played La Vie en Rose as we learned tips and tricks for fashion modeling.
Her daughter wrote her obituary, “Caroline will be remembered as a vibrant, eccentric person, known for loving all things cultural and beautiful “over the top“ jewellery, make-up, nails, and knock-out wardrobe, especially animal print. With this in mind, please honor her memory by dawning something of this style to her memorial service”. I wore a wig in her honour. Caroline had many wigs and wore a different one every day.
Caroline dressed me. She pushed my limits and she made me feel beautiful. Caroline believed voluptuous, full figure were beautiful – she wanted us to dress with big jewellery and colourful, flowy clothes. She inspired so many women. Her store was more than a place for clothing. Womyn came in to shop but stayed to talk. Caroline suffered with depression and was not able to work from time to time. She would hand her store over to another woman who was between jobs. Once it was my sister – another time it was me. We grew in this store and we found the willpower to recreate and go back into the “real” world. Her store was magick. Caroline was magick.
Caroline also taught me so much about spirituality. She introduced me to her guru -known as the blue man. His name was Christopher. Christopher travelled around North America teaching chanting, tuning fork healing, healthy eating, sexual healing and more. Caroline told me she knew him first in her dreams. His teachings helped me to develop as a healer. At my Kohenet ordination this summer I felt Caroline’s presence and I remembered Christopher.
I have many good friends today. I am blessed. I will miss Caroline forever – “tell it to me like a story”. She inspired this website and my calling to inspire women to live life large. Tell me about your best friend and tell it to me like a story.