Bonds of Love—a Gift to Always Cherish
By Ruth, Ontario, Canada
My father was in the hospital recovering from a major heart attack when I was in my early twenties. I was not yet a member of Eckankar, and I was terribly afraid he was going to die.
After crying myself to sleep one night, I was awakened by a group of people at the foot of my bed. I knew them to be relatives who had passed on. My father’s mother was among them, making beckoning motions and appearing to say something. From this I took assurance that, when my father’s time did come, he would be met by those who loved him. There was nothing for him—or me—to fear.
Seven years later, I was married, had become an ECKist, and was preparing to follow my husband to England for his studies. Dad had become increasingly frail, and I knew I would likely not see him alive again. I was sad to go but comforted myself that he would not leave this world without finding a way to say good-bye.
Later, in Bradford, United Kingdom, I had two dreams on consecutive December nights. In the first, I was staring sorrowfully at the red-carpeted floor in the church of my childhood. In the second, Dad was saying, “I’m never going to see you again, Ruthie.”
I responded, “Don’t be silly. I’ll see you again at Christmas,” even though I had no outward plans to return to Canada for the holidays. Then a wave of love swept through me, and I said, “Oh, Daddy!” as we embraced. The next night, I was awakened by a phone call from my mother saying Dad had died peacefully.
I returned to Canada just two weeks before Christmas. And I did find myself staring at the red carpet in that church. The fact my faith in our final good-bye had been borne out did much to heal my loss. The Dream Master (the Mahanta, my inner spiritual guide) had shown me years earlier that Dad’s passing would not be a loss at all, but a new beginning for Dad among Souls who loved him.
In 2013 we had to place my mother in a nursing home. I was beside myself with grief and guilt. My sister and I had promised we would never put her in such a place. Nevertheless, practicality and medical needs won out. I was torn up inside, watching her descend further and further into anguished dementia.
My strength through that period came from the many ways the Mahanta confirmed he was watching over both of us. Confirmation came in dreams, tiny daytime signals, and in some of my mother’s own utterances. When Mom, a devout Christian, finally did let go of her physical life, I was certain it was her last step toward a far better existence in the other worlds.
Nearly two years later, a friend gave me a small evergreen bush in Mom’s memory. It was late in the fall, but we agreed that I would be very careful with its planting and watering-in. I would name the little tree Thelma, after Mom, and I would visit her regularly in those first days, with water and encouragement.
One day, while taking Thelma her drink, I reflected on Mom’s ordeal and my guilt over sending her to a nursing home. “I’m sure she forgives me,” I said to myself, “but I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself.”
A while later, I opened a Christmas gift bag I intended to reuse. When I reached inside, my hand closed around something, and I pulled out a hundred-dollar gift card. On the back it said, “To Mom, from Ruth and Scott.” I must have placed that card in the bag some Christmas previously, then placed another gift on top of it. Mom must have put the bag away without ever noticing the card. I must have packed it up with her other possessions and brought it home after she died.
I interpreted this “gift” to mean that Mom was saying, “Forgive yourself.” As I talked this over with my husband, all self-recrimination melted away. I was finally at peace.
Through these ordeals, and more, I have been secure in the knowledge that the Mahanta walks with us—has been watching, guiding, and protecting everyone in my family, regardless of whether they’re members of Eckankar. This is a gift I cherish—always.