On June 1, 2013, Mott Green — old friend, compatriot, co-founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company — died from an electrocution accident in Grenada.
Yesterday, my sweetheart Stephen and I headed down to New York City from the Cape to go to Mott’s memorial service at the Riverside Memorial Chapel at 76th and Amsterdam on the Upper West Side. The day was gorgeous and traffic light, if my heart was heavy. I was worried I would know no one – my association with Mott through Oregon and Grenada, only connecting with him a few times over my time in NYC, meeting his mother at her home, and joining him and Pastrami that day we hunted down Jacques Torres and later slept on the roof of the 6th Street squat in the summer heat.
But the heaviness I carried for the last week lifted as soon as I walked in and saw Edmund Brown. Edmund! The third chocolatier! The last chocolatier from the theobroma trinity of Mott, Edmund and Doug Browne. Together they created a solar-powered, organic, radically egalitarian chocolate company that made damn fine dark chocolate.
Edmund’s long dreads were pulled back with a Grenadian flag bandanna. I throw my arms around him, like he is somehow the ghost. Thandi was there. And Fly carries a sketchbook of early days visiting Grenada. And Sasha. And Pastrami. There is Doug’s sister Linda Snook, who I last saw in her California home as Doug (the second chocolatier) lay dying and she and her family surrounded him with love. Other Grenadians were there: Curline, Tillman Thomas, Wendy Ann. The heaviness shrunk in the presence of all these people who loved this man who named himself Moth, who an island tongue turned to Mott. What facial muscles allow us to smile and cry simultaneously? I think of cocoa, fried fish, bassanova, giving flower seeds to the local kids, building bridges literal and figurative, washing clothes by hanging them on a line and waiting for rain, blue eyes looking deep into mine, longing and loss and dreams, big dreams.
The heaviness of the reality of that pine box at the front of the room shrunk a bit in the presence of all who love him. I felt it transform in that high-ceiling room into a rounded stone, leaden with weight, low in my body and suspended from strings that are stitched into my heart. There are other stones it knocks against, making a low sound in my soul, like when a retreating wave tumbles fist-sized beach rocks.
The service was lovely. Chantel Coady and James of Rococo Chocolate talked of his vision. Shadel of Belmont Estate, spoke of how Mott taught her how to make her business meaningful, taught her what organic meant and how it could transform what she helped bring to the world. Tillman, as chocolate factory neighbor and former Grenadian prime minister, spoke of the way Mott carried out Maurice Bishop’s vision of an island nation that made chocolate, instead of just growing it for colonial nations’ profit. He changed the course of Grenada’s history, he said.
His mother Judith spoke of receiving the news of David’s death and immediately having an image of a shooting star – bright, brilliant vulnerable – coming to earth and shattering into a million other sparks. His brother Peter spoke of how David (“I never called him anything else”) was a so intense that he was “difficult to watch, but awesome to witness.”
I am digging through my own archives, Mott sprinkled through journal entries over the course of the 17 years that I knew him. The intense times as the factory started up, in Oregon and Grenada. Later, the notes from when he and the chocolate company became an official source, as I wrote about them as a journalist for Salon and, just last year, Cruising World, when the dream of a cross-Atlantic sail-powered chocolate delivery came true. The staggering time when Doug was diagnosed with cancer. The thrill of seeing the bar in Whole Foods. I am digging through photos and memories that make the rocks rumble. I’ll write more. Soon. But for today, just these few words. And there in the front section of today’s New York Times, a long piece about our “free-spirited chocolatier.”