Everything changes—nothing remains the same, or turns out as we expected.
On October 2nd, my mother went to bed at her usual time. A little before 2 am, I heard her call me. When I saw her, it was clear that she had had a stroke. The ambulance rushed her to the hospital where the cause and severity of her stroke was discovered. On the 5th, my sister and I brought my mother home.
My mother’s stroke was major, and she had long ago indicated her final wishes to us. We told her why we had brought her home and she understood. She was at peace with our decision and trusted us to do what was best for her. From the time we brought her home, she did not complain but acted with dignity and grace, and even with flashes of her well-known humor.
Over her final few days, many of the good friends we had so recently made came to visit my mother. When awake, she would thank those who had come. She also joked with Louise and I, and with her visitors. Louise and I told her that we would be fine and thanked her for being such a wonderful mother.
On the 8th, a very kind monk I knew called me to see how she was. He gave me some very wise advice, which I considered and then I realized what might hold my mother back. I spoke with Louise and we then went to talk to our mother. We spoke to her for just a few minutes and then we both began to chant.
My mother was not a Buddhist and did not chant, but she had always been very happy with my decision to become a Buddhist nun. But after we spoke with her and began to quietly chant “Amituofo” for her, Louise and I both realized that Mom was moving her mouth. She was silently chanting with us!
Although her speech had been difficult to understand and her right side was immobilized, she was clearly chanting with us. Amazed, we looked back at her and watched as she chanted with us. Then, the next chant never came, and we realized she had quietly slipped away from us. And my best friend was gone.
May my mother, Evelyn Bolender,
be born into the Western Pure Land in her next rebirth
to forever leave suffering and confusion behind, and
to find lasting liberation and happiness.