Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My mother's final story

I want to thank everyone for your kind remarks about my beloved mother. She is smiling down on all of us and giving us her blessing as we speak.

Chandrika Gadiewasam: "Please write her story!" Sure, here is one. In 2008, I was on my 6th Compassion for Animals Road Expedition (CARE-6) which covered 39 states in the 7 months spanning April and the end of November. By early September, I was in Maryland, when news came from Vancouver that my mom's health was going downhill fast. "No life-threatening disease, just life-force ebbing," said the nice lady on the phone.

The lady was not cheerful in her delivery. The workers at the Lakeview care home all loved her for her sunny and warm smile in a by-definition gloomy place however brightly it was decorated, which attracted them into her room during coffee breaks. The lady on the phone told me that my mom was one of those who made their job enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding.

I also have to correct myself for saying in the previous post that the first thing she told people about me was that I was on TV. No, it was: "He has a good heart," and this does not refer to the organ that pumps blood. The respect the staff showed me, which I mentioned in the previous post, was not because I was some kind of media celeb, but because of what my mom said about me and how she said it. Besides, they had eyes of their own to see us walking arm in arm towards the elevator.

She and I were very close, especially since the passing of my father in 2000 at age 87. Whenever I was in Vancouver, I would see her once every 2-3 days, usually taking her out to lunch, and her eyes would always light up when she saw me walking into her room. As you may know, I have taken 7 CARE-tours since 2003, every time lasting 4-7 months. To my mom, it must have felt like her son going off to war for several months every year, the only difference being that I was not ordered to go by some colonel, but ordered myself to go as my own general. This made me always hesitate to tell her the next year's plan, and dread the day of farewell. But she has never once asked me to shorten my tours, much less to abandon them. So, I called her everyday while on the road, wherever I happened to be. And she repeatedly asked me to thank those who offered me hospitality and comradeship.

So, on this day in early September, 2008, I called her, and when she finally came to the phone, she did seem very tired. But she said, "Don't shorten your tour because of this. I'll be here when you come back."

On the other hand, all my friends, without a single exception, urged me to cut my tour short to be with my mom.

As for me, I had never cut short a CARE-tour, and was frankly very reluctant to quit, especially when it entailed cancelling the talks already set up for late September, October and November. So I struck a compromise. I went on for another 3 weeks to make good most of my commitments in the US northeast, cancelled several downstream, then drove back to Vancouver in 4 days.

(This pic was taken circa the mid to late 1980s, which places her in her mid to late 60s and me in my early to mid 40s.)

I crossed the American/Canadian border On Oct. 18, and went straight to the care home after a long drive from Missoula, Montana. She was in a wheelchair and looked very frail. Only her liquid-sunshine of a tearful smile did not dim. "You didn't have to do this," she said, refer to my cutting short my tour.

I saw her every day until November 8, 2008, when she passed away in the still of the night. The whole care home went into mourning along with my family. Had I not cut short my CARE-6 tour, I would still be somewhere in the Great Lakes region when it happened. I thank all my friends who urged me to go home.

She was a very loving and giving person. My Chinese name "Seeu-Sung" has many meanings, one is "Beautiful Youth". The longer lasting one is "Beautiful Life". I will strive to live up to this name that she bestowed upon me. With deep gratitude.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)


Shelly said...

Wonderful story of a wonderful woman whose beautiful spirit was obviously passed down to her son. You honor her well Anthony.

Rachel Lee said...

I agree with Shelly; and I am so glad that you cut the trip short and was able to spend those last, precious days with her.