Meriama, our inspiration

Remembering my mother; celebrating her

Four generations of Meriama’s family.

It was often said of my mother that she could make six new friends if you left her at a bus stop for 10 minutes.

She loved books and read everything: novels, nonfiction, magazines, from her ipad, from the library, from Google. She never stopped being curious about the world.

She loved to travel. She loved Wales and Spain and Paris and Greece and Nepal and perhaps India above all. When she turned 80, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She said, a trip to India, and off she went to south India for a month, often riding on the back of John, her guide’s motorcycle.

Meriama at Childhaven Orphanage in Kathmandu

Nepal and India were heart places for her. She volunteered at Childhaven, an orphanage and school for abandoned children in Kathmandu. The Unitarian minister couple who ran it, friends of the family since I was 13, named their new residence building in Kathmandu Meriama House in her honor. She back flew to Nepal to cut the ribbon for the opening, and then went in a helicopter for the first time, to Pokhara, with us.

She always had a kind word for anyone who needed one but, activist that she was, had a sharp tongue for political idiocy and doublespeak.

She was a pioneer in Canada for the death with dignity movement and campaigned for it for years until it finally became law. She campaigned, too, for preservation of parks and wild places, and for the birds that lived in them. She loved birds, especially cardinals.

She told me once that her favorite thing for her whole life was to go walking outside somewhere green.

My mother was born August 17th 1935 and left the world this November 28th 2017. She died fearlessly and serene, with my daughter, Mars, and me and my youngest brother, Chris, and his daughter Tamara holding her hands. Afterwards we sat with her for three hours, in the Tibetan tradition, and her soul was very close. And at the end of the three hours, I could feel her unfurl great wings and go straight up, fast and silently. We all felt it; it was astonishing.

Meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Her last words to me were, “you don’t have to behave.” I’ll always be grateful for that.

I thought a lot about what I could to do honor her, and all strong and wonderful mothers, and here it is, the Meriama Fund — leveraging her caring energy to do good in the world.

That’s part of my doing what Sogyal Rimpoche says: One way of comforting the bereaved is to encourage them to do something for their loved ones who have died, and so giving their death a deeper meaning. Don’t let us half die with our loved ones, then: let us try to live, after they are gone, with greater fervor.