I always wondered what today would be like. I remember in 1983 when I had just received my Gohonzon and I was sitting in a diner telling my Mother about this Buddhism. I really had no idea of the depth and weight of this philosophy, I knew nothing about Buddhism. All I knew was that I was on to something, something real. Her smile was genuine as she listened to whatever it was I was saying. She told me "you are having a spiritual experience" and she was so happy for me. One thing I always found interesting was I received my Gohonzon on 12/12/1983, my Mother's birthday.
I was raised in a Christian home, my parents were not overly religious but went to church every now and then. For the most part they were pretty open minded. My Mother and Father always supported my practice. In late 1984 I took my Mother to a "NSA" mtg. and she was so moved by the members that she immediatly agreed to receive her Gohonzon. Like many people my Mother did not begin to practice as I had hoped. When she was not around the SGI her fundamental Christian upbringing and guilt dominated, it just was not time yet.
I have always had a very hard time with my Mom, our relationship is a love / hate. I held deep resentment towards her for many things; her alcoholism, marrying men that would physically abuse myself and her, the list goes on. As a result I really struggled to treat her with kindness, to be honest I felt at times I hated her for the way she lived her life. My Mom had a very tough upbringing and was always a bit of an outcast within her own family. There are parts of her life that I am just now finding out about which explains her behavior's. She isolated and put up defense mechanism's which resulted in a life disconnected from her family as well as myself.
She had lived in California City for the past 10 years. Even though she really never chanted consistently she would attend SGI mtgs occasionally and always had the Gohonzon enshrined in her home. I think it was more for me than her. As she watched me grow in faith she began to see the power of faith and practice. About 6 years ago she connected with a District on her own in the Tehachapi area and began her practice, 20 years after receiving her Gohonzon. It amazed my wife Shelia and myself. She went from attending a District activity twice a month to having Daimoku toso's at her house on a weekly basis. She began to experience the power of Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo and I cannot describe the immense joy this brought me.
The week of April 19th, 6+ weeks ago she went to the Dr. with flu like symptoms. The Dr. found reason to have her sent to the Antelope Valley Hospital. She would never return home as she was diagnosed with termianl, non-operable ovarian cancer. Treatment was not an option so I brought her to my home in Corona to care for her as she entered the final stage of her life. It was a very intense and emotionally exhausting experience for my whole family. My wife Shelia and daughter Karissa (24) cared for her in a way I never could have. What I watched them do is just indescribeable. They gave my Mother dignity in her final days. These are the finest human beings I have ever met and I will never be able to repay my debt of gratitude to them.
Hospice was brought in to help, but 90% of the care was given by my wife Shelia, daughter Karissa and myself. I did not want to do this and I was overwhelmed with resentment, anger and self pity. My wife told me in a very strict but compassionate way that no matter what my Mom did in her life she was doing the best she could and if it were not for her we would not have the family or life we have.
I was able to take her encouragement and try to "get over myself". I began to stay up at night with her, she was a night owl. I was able to tell her how I felt about her, we talked and shared openly. I played music for her, we talked about the great things this life has given us. The SGI, Gohonzon, friends, music.... we covered alot of ground in 2 weeks. She told me that the SGI members made her feel more loved than even her parents or siblings ever did. I realized that this was our mission together in this lifetime. I was able to repay my debt of gratitude to my Mother with faith.
My Mother died in my home on Wed May 26th at 5pm.- 26 days from the time I brought her to my home. It went so fast. I can honestly say that I have no feelings of resentment or anger - this was changed thru her death and the last week we spent together.
Today we will have her memorial at the SGI-USA Riverside Communtiy Center. I dont know what I am going to say or if I will be able to say anything but somehow I must convey my gratitude to my wife Shelia, daughter Karissa (24), daughter Darian (17), son Sage (12) as well as the countless SGI members, friends and family who did so much for my Mom in this final stage of her life. I realize how short this life is, how there is no co-incedent we have the parents, children, realitives and friends we do. We have each other so we can do our human revolution and learn the lessons of this life.
I love you Mom and I cant thank you enough for everything you did. Your love was bigger than your heart could vessel and the world is a lesser place without you.