May 23, 2014
Jolene loses battle four years after vicious attack

Jolene Charles knew that her life on earth was nearing its end.

In preparation, she wrote her eulogy and asked her sister to hide it until the day she took her last breath.

That final breath came on Friday, May 16, at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

Charles, who was paralysed from the waist down {{more}}after her former lover stabbed her with a screwdriver, was pronounced dead at about 9:30 a.m.

Jolene’s younger sister, 11-year-old Ika Browne, had kept the promise she made to her sister in 2013, and never showed anyone the eulogy.

“She tell me that the eulogy that she writing, that we must read it out in the church when she going to bury. I tell she okay then. And I take the book that she wrote it in and hide it under the bed,” Ika disclosed during an interview with SEARCHLIGHT at their Edinboro home.

Describing her sister as a helpful person, Ika said even though Jolene was confined to her bed, she still helped her with school work.

“She used to help me plenty. She used to go over my work and made sure that I do my homework… Sometimes, we used to have little church service with her, where we would sing and pray that God go bring she back on she foot. She left us and I don’t know what to say,” Ika said, fighting tears.

On March 20, 2010, Jolene, then 23, was involved in a domestic dispute with her children’s father Shorn Carlon Craigg.

During the altercation at their home in Edinboro, Craigg smashed a hammer twice into Jolene’s head, beat her with a cutlass, then stabbed her with a screwdriver in her back, leaving the mother of two paralysed from the waist down.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT a few days after the incident in 2010, Jolene had said the dispute started when she asked her common-law husband of seven years to get a job.

“For the past seven years while me and this guy was dating, he wasn’t working or attempting to look for a job to mind his children. I was working for those years, but now I stop work. I asked him to go out and look for a job to help maintain us… he kept pushing me and tell me I must go and take man to mind the children and myself,” Charles had stated.

“He take a hammer and start to beat me in my head. He also used a cutlass. Then he take a screwdriver and chook me by my spine. That alone kill my whole limb and dead everything down here,” Charles recalled.

Craigg was sentenced to five years in prison for the crime and has since completed his sentence.

Despite being paralysed from the waist down as a result of the stab wound to her back, Jolene Charles was always optimistic she would walk again.

According to Jolene’s sister, Esha Charles, they were told that Jolene died as a result of recurrent infections at the site of the stab wound.

Esha recalled that during the first year after she was paralyzed, Jolene maintained a positive outlook on life.

“She used to always believe she will walk again, but afterwards she got sick and went back to the hospital and then they (the doctors) say that the screwdriver that was used to stab her was rusty and caused an infection,” Charles said.

Charles said after that, her sister hardly ate, because she would vomit when she attempted to eat.

As a result of Jolene’s deteriorating condition, different members of her family had to donate blood to her from time to time.

Saying it was difficult to see her sister in such a position, Esha said Jolene was always a fighter and believed that she would have walked again someday.

“My sister had plans for her and her kids when she started walking again. After things got worse and she realised she wasn’t going to make it again, she just used to keep telling us to keep the faith and if she dies, look after her kids. She always told me to make sure her children grow up to be something in life and if she goes, she will miss us,” Charles said, as she picked at a spot on the wall of the house and stared at it for about a minute before uttering another word.

Reflecting on the last conversation she had with her sister, Esha said the day before Jolene passed away, she visited her at the hospital.

“She was in a down state. She wasn’t saying anything. I was telling her to squeeze my hand; she wasn’t doing that. She was just fighting for life at that time. When I was leaving, I told her we would pray for her and she said, ‘ah gone now.’ She never said anything after that,” Esha recounted.

When Esha and her mother visited Jolene the next morning, she was already dead.

“I kinda knew that was it. She wrote in her eulogy and told us to take care of the kids and told mommy to hold the faith and that she miss and love us all bad. She asked our mummy to take care of her children and said that she hopes that her soul rest in peace,” Esha recalled reading from the eulogy.

A distraught Cardene Browne, Jolene’s mother, said her daughter always said she would rather die at home than at the hospital.

“I just had to carry her to the hospital because she was just in a bad state. She wasn’t eating the hospital food or drinking their tea. Jolene was just in too much pain… The same Thursday before she dead, she told me to behave myself and keep the faith,” Browne stated, unaware that it would be the last time she would hear from her first child.

The family also said that Jolene’s attacker had telephoned her just before he left prison and apologised for what he did.

“I think he apologised over the phone and she forgave him. Jolene was just that type of person. She was so warm, kind-hearted and forgiving… I miss her a lot. I looked at her as my daughter still,” Verol Browne, stepfather of the deceased stated.

Jolene’s children Shaheed Charles and Teneke Charles now 10 and 8, both stated that they missed their mother and wished that she did not die.

Jolene’s funeral will be held on June 1, at Lowmans Windward at the Awakening Spiritual Baptist Church.

Burial will be at the Maxford cemetery.