'Your mother's soul is doing well'

“I had a good life,“ my mother used to say in her later years...

Utsahi (far right) with family just before entering the seminary, aged 13

My relationship with my mother was very special, very soulful, especially during the last few years of her life. In my younger years, it was not so easy. I guess I disappointed her: since she was a fervent Catholic, I knew that, in her heart of hearts, she had always wanted me to become a priest. At the age of 13, I had gone to a seminary with that specific goal in mind. This was a strict Order. I ended up, five years later, pronouncing the three sacred vows. But by the age of 21, I could not stand it any longer, and I left the Order. I was not well there. Plus, I had been abused by the priests. After that, I could accept, maybe, that I would lead a spiritual life, but I could not accept the priesthood!

For my mother, after all those years of anticipation, my return home was difficult. I think she felt that all her hopes had vanished. But she never openly expressed this, as was typical in my family and in my culture. There were a few signs here and there... the rest was dealt with in silence.

Years later, when my marriage failed, this was another blow to my mother. She had been proud of this marriage, of our children, of my family. That our marriage could end up in amicable divorce, she did not understand! So for many months after our separation, when I called her, it was clear that she was always hoping for a renewed relationship. Furthermore, when I talked to her about my spiritual Master, she was not at ease either. After all, having been brought up in the Catholic tradition, having an Eastern Guru was not exactly her cup of tea.

For years following the breakup of my marriage, after I met the house payments and paid the children’s allowances, I was left with no money to buy a newer car. So every season, I would touch up my old one by covering the rusted spots with fiberglass and paint. Life would go on... After I had done this for a few seasons, Julie and her teen-age friends decided to paint my brown Toyota in psychedelic colours; that was fun for them and it was okay with me. But it was not fun when my mother saw it! In my village, a car is, next to God, a sacred object. (I was even stopped by the police, who examined the car, and then asked me my profession. When I told them I was a university professor, they were sure I was lying and asked for evidence. Luckily, I had a business card with me.) So, it did not make my mother very happy, to say the least, to see her divorced son driving an old bumped-up, psychedelic car. She tried to insist on giving me money for a down payment on a new car, but I told her things were fine.

Now that I’ve said all this, the main thing I want to say is that Mom was a very wonderful person. Over the years, our love for each other grew to be very special. We could laugh about the old car. She knew that my ex-spouse and I were getting along well. And I had learned to live my life according to my inner calls and not her expectations, but then to love her for her kind heart.

Her life, and our relationship, had become simple, joyful. As the years went by, I would call her more often. She would give me joy; I would give her joy. I knew that I could share with her the peace and serenity I was getting from my relationship with Guru. By her 80th birthday, she had written more than 60 poems on simple matters like the wind, her family, the next life.

After she turned 80, she started having serious health problems. Many times, I was called to New Brunswick because my brothers and sisters did not know if she would make it. In 2000, I was due to on the Christmas Trip with Guru to Myanmar for two weeks. By the time the departure date arrived, my mother was so weak that her life was in danger. In spite of this, I felt the urge to go on the trip. Once more, with divine intervention, she became well and was full of energy and enthusiasm.

Two years later, things became much more difficult: the oxygen tank, the wheelchair, ... then she became bed-ridden. As she became increasingly ill, she had to be transferred from her home to a nursing home and finally to the local hospital. Many times in these last years, I drove from home in Ottawa to New Brunswick to see her. Plus I would call her two or three times a week. She could not read or write any more, and did not like television, so there was not much of anything for her to do. One evening I asked her what she was doing, to which she responded: “I was waiting for your call."

In July 2003, the family was urged to go see her immediately. Although this had happened a number of times in the previous year, I knew that this time she was really leaving. I prayed for the Supreme to let me see her once more before her departure. And then I left for Grand Falls, a nine-hour drive from Ottawa. I arrived in the early evening and volunteered to stay at her bedside for the night. My wish was to be able to place Guru’s Transcendental Picture beside her, sing her the Invocation, and spend the night beside her. So when everyone had left, I put the blessed photo beside her pillow and, in harmony with Guru and the Supreme, sang the Invocation. I knew these were my last intimate moments with her. I then thanked her for the life, the values, the optimism, the energy and the enthusiasm she had given me. She was serene, outwardly barely conscious, breathing heavily, with the assistance of the oxygen mask. I felt she was attentive to all that I was saying.

After some time, the nurses brought me a cot bed, so I could rest for a while. During the night, they came a few times to check on her, but I did not notice their presence. The next morning, the nurse asked me: “The photo under your mother’s pillow, is it your father?„ I was so happy! I could not believe this question! I answered, “Yes, of course.„ And then she said: “He looks a lot like you!„ What a compliment! That evening, she passed away. She was 83. She had been ill and frail for her last three years. Gradually, she had lost her ability to be independent, but she never lost her faith and her great optimistic spirit. She enjoyed it when I teased her. Always, till her last moment, her words were positive. She had something nice to say about people and about all of us, her children.

As soon as I could after this, I wanted to go to New York to be with Guru. I arrived there late on one Friday night. The next morning, after the Runners Are Smilers race, when Guru offered us prasad from his car, he called me over and asked: “Do you have a photo of your mother?„ “Yes,„ I answered. “Can you please give it to me?„ “Yes, Guru.„ Of course! I was happy to. With Utthal’s help, I prepared and presented to Guru a framed photo of my mother. Guru said he would give it back to me the next day.

Utsahi gives Sri Chinmoy the framed photo of Utsahi's mother

The following day, before I left for Ottawa, I checked to see if I could have the photo back. Guru answered that it was still at his house and that he would give it back to me the next time I came down. I was in no rush to get it back. A few weeks later, one night at Guru’s house, I noticed that it was in a very prominent place right beside Guru’s seat. I was so happy. I was all joy. In what better place could my mother be?

One Sunday morning the following September, when we were at Aspiration-Ground, Guru called me over to him and said: “I have kept your mother’s photo for a long time in my house. Many times I have looked at her and many times I blessed her. Your mother’s soul is doing well."

Guru gave me back the framed photo, along with a huge smile. I was delighted. What a caring, compassionate Father we have! How much time and attention he gives to us all! When I returned home, I placed my mother’s photo on my altar, where she still is.

Cross-posted from utsahi.srichinmoycentre.org