Except for a couple of trips to the emergency room, my ninety-two-year-old mother thought she was doing just fine living on her own in her big house in St. Louis, Missouri — even though none of her children lived nearby. My siblings, both medical professionals, live hours from St. Louis. I live in California.
“She is an accident waiting to happen,” my sister said, “but she won’t listen to us. You must persuade her that she needs to move someplace where there is more supervision.”
I had been concerned; now I was anxious. But what could I do from California? I took my anxiety into meditation and laid it out to Master.
“You know my mother. She has such a strong will! If she doesn’t want to move, there is nothing I can do about it.” A great calmness descended over me, and an inward assurance, “All will be well.”
I phoned her immediately. “I know you want to stay where you are,” I said to my mother on the phone, “but why don’t I come out there and we can research options? That way, when you do feel ready to move, we’ll know what’s available.” She agreed, and I flew out to spend a week with her.
I never urged her to do anything, but always asked, “What do you want?” The assurance I had received in meditation stayed with me, and I was able to just let the situation unfold. By the time I left, seven days later, we had moved her into a small apartment overlooking a garden in an extraordinary independent living facility. She was trying it out for a month. She loved it and decided to stay.
Her greatest dread had always been that she would become incapacitated and end her life in a nursing home. A little less than two years after she moved into the apartment, her body began to fail.
My mother always had lots of energy and will power and was interested in everything. She could be critical and complaining, but she never lacked for zip! Now she had slow internal bleeding, and even with regular trips to the hospital for blood transfusions she was exhausted and confused.
On the eve of yet another hospital stay, the Personal Care Director suggested that she move from independent to assisted living. I called my mother on the phone, and she spoke to me from her hospital bed.
“I have lots of money, but I can’t even eat,” she said unhappily. Then, to my surprise, she said, “Maybe I should have joined Ananda.” I had lived at Ananda Village for nearly forty years. It was the first time she had expressed the slightest inclination toward my way of life.
After the call, I wrote Swami Kriyananda asking him to pray for her. He had met my mother once when she came to visit me at Ananda. The next day I called her again. “How do you feel?” I asked. She’d had the transfusion.
“Wonderful!” she said, more positive and energetic than I had heard her be in a long time. More than a year before, I’d given her a spiritual book. Her response at that time was caustic. Now she was both reading and enjoying it! In the middle of our conversation, she quoted from the book a saying of Master’s: “Conditions are always neutral.” (The rest of it, which she didn’t say, is, “It is how you react to them that makes them appear sad or happy.”) The only way I can describe the phone call is: Amazing!
Later, when I checked my e-mails, I learned that my request had reached Swamiji, and that he had started praying for her the night before. After that, every time I spoke to my mother she was bursting with good will and love for all. Even people she had criticized in the past she now saw in a kindly light. Soon I went for a visit.
The change was dramatic. She looked years younger. She was fun, funny, and full of life. She expressed the greatest kindness and appreciation for all. That last month of her life, she was the happiest, most loving I have ever known her to be. At the end, by the grace of God, I was there when she passed peacefully away.