Dear friends and colleagues,
As many of you know, and have so advised, I did something I had never done before, and that is to cut short a tour, which I did to my 6th Compassion for Animals Road Expedition. CARE-6, the first phase of Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)'s Global Emergency Operation (GEO) regarding climate change, runaway global heating and mass extinction, started in July 1, 2008, and was scheduled to last until November 20. In late September, however, I received news that my mother, 89, had suffered a serious health decline. In drug induced delirium, she was heard to call my name. I could not stand the thought of her life-story ending on that note. After some deliberation, more like agonizing, and discussions with trusted friends and HOPE-GEO team members, I canceled all speaking engagements after October 7. After my last presentation in Brooklyn NY, I pointed my car due west, and drove into the sunset.
The first thing I did upon my arrival back in Vancouver was to see my mother. She had visibly shrunken, but her joy upon seeing me was radiant. Thus underestimating her condition, I took her out to lunch, as I usually did before the tour, inviting also my brother Matthew. The result was that I had to carry her from the restaurant back to my car, and even so, she was breathing so desperately I had to drive my car like an ambulance to get her back to her oxygen. That was the last time she would ever ride in my car. Since then, I had been visiting her, each time bringing some of her favorite snacks.
In one of the visits, I brought my laptop, and showed her some of the pictures and videos of my tour, including those taken at the Animal Rights National Conference in DC (www.ARConference.org). She looked at them for awhile, then said to me, "I am very proud to be the mother of the one Chinese man in the world, out of the hundreds of millions, who spoke at this conference." In turn, I told her that many of my American and Canadian friends were asking about her, one of whom even saying, "Thank her for giving birth to you." But, I told myself, she would from then on be house-bound, room-bound, even bed-bound, and that the Lakeview Care Centre, excellent professionally as it is, would be her prison until the day she died. Ultimately, says my soul, she prison was her aging and ailing body.
Well, today, November 3, 2008, is the day. I received a phone call this morning from the care home about her passing - her flight - in the night. Now, she is free.
Before leaving for the care hone, I called Judy and Lori, because they were the two of my friends who have met my mother, and have developed love for her, and have visited her with me as well as in my absence. Lori and her son Clay had visited while I was gone, and last week, and mom had spoken fondly of them. Lori offered for me to come to her place after the care home if I needed company. When I arrived at the care home around 10:40, Judy, whom my mother had adopted as her one and only "honorary daughter", was already there, alone with my mother, in my mother's room. Her eyes were puffy and red. This was my first time seeing Judy since my return. The last time she saw my mom was the day before my return. In contrast, my mom looked serene, as if she was sleeping. I went to her bedside and stroked her hair, as I often do, and her forehead seemed still warm, as if she would wake up any moment. I wanted to take a last picture of her, with her, but had not brought my camera. At once, this became very important to me, so I drove back home to get the camera, 20 minutes away. Sadly, by the time I returned, her bed was empty. The funeral home people had whisked her away. Judy had asked them to wait for me, but they had refused. I was furious. I'd never had much respect for funeral homes anyway. All they left me was the message that I should be at the funeral home tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. for a meeting. Judy tried to comfort me by saying that I could still take a picture of mom in the open casket during the funeral. "No!" I responded almost automatically, "I wanted the picture of her in her bed, not the casket! With you, Matthew and me by her bedside!"
The afternoon was spent tying up loose ends at the care home, while Matthew took care of the funeral arrangements. There was a stack of photo albums, which were the main items. Most of the other things we donated to the care center, including most of her clothing, decorations, National Geographic magazines, a Chinese-to-English dictionary, an English-to-Chinese dictionary, a small encyclopedia in Chinese and all her Chinese movies and music. I had a hard time choosing one memento, so I took several, something soft - a pillow case, two of her favorite blouses, and of course all the photo albums, which I will share with Matthew later.
I want to thank those among my friends who gave me their counsel and support through this difficult time. To a person they advised me to cut short my tour to be with my mom. Good thing I listened. If not, I'd still be somewhere back east, while my mother called for me with her last breath. I cannot stand the thought. Since my return, these and other friends have been asking about her health, some religiously, and giving me their ongoing support. I do love you all.
Before I left on CARE-6, on Mother's Day, I wrote a piece titled simply "Thoughts on Mother's day 2008", which eventually became Chapter 24 of "Homo Sapiens! SAVE YOUR EARTH" (published July 2008, co-authored with Dr. Peter Carter and Taina Ketola - see www.myspace.com/AnthonyMarr), which I reproduce here in honor of my dearly beloved mother.
Anthony Marr, founder and president
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Date: Sun, 11 May 2008 13:41:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: Anthony Marr
Subject: Mother's Day tribute
- sign the following petition urging the U.N. Secretary General to orchestrate the creation and administration of a $120 billion/year Global Green Fund by a corresponding reduction of 10% of the $1.2 trillion world military expenditure
- add a strong comment worth a thousand signatures and
- pass it on far and wide