I stand before you tonight as a man deeply humbled by the grace and unconditional love of my mother, Alison May Turner and am heartbroken by her passing.
As a boy, my mother was everything to me, my best friend and my greatest cheerleader. She loved me unconditionally like you’d expect a mother to do. She loved my drawings and told everyone I was going to be a cartoonist one day, and she always encouraged me in whatever crazy idea I had, even when I decided to run away, shave my head and become a celibate monk at age 19.
Yep, she was that kind of mum and I was always her favorite little boy.
Indeed, I cannot recall even one time where my mother discouraged me. She showed her patience in raising three rambunctious boys and a girl, and her loyalty when she stood by my father through the most challenging times and when many an average woman would have fled. But never once did she shirk her responsibility as a mother. She was perfect in every way.
Today is one of those kinds of moments in life when we are forced to be philosophical to make sense of the chaos and apparent irrationality of the human experience.
As we can all attest, my mother’s physical body is here with us today, and yet we all absolutely know that her spirit flies high. My mother, like you and I, is an eternal soul. I have to remind myself of this fact to help me cope on such a very sad day.
I remember well the first time I saw my mother in this way and it was one of the most powerful moments in my life.
It was 1984, and I had been a monk for about 6 months and decided to visit mum in Penrith. Dad was in jail at the time and so my mother was all alone. I spent that afternoon with her and then when I left that day I gave her a warm loving hug and stopped to look deeply into her eyes. For the first time in my life, I did not just see my mother as the “nurturer,” “best friend,” or the “superwomen of 4 children,” I saw a beautiful, youthful, and innocent soul looking back at me through her eyes. “My mother was much more than a physical body,” my heart screamed, “My mother was a soul.”
As I drove back to the ashram that evening, I cried like a little boy, appreciating the blessing I had just received from God to see my mother in this way.
My decision to become a monk at that time might have appeared to some as a bit selfish but I sincerely believed that I was doing the best thing I could for myself and my parents. We were told that whatever service to God we performed, our parents would receive some of the benefits and so I pursued this new spiritual career with a passion.
This journey led me to dedicate the next 30 years of my life serving the community through charity work, but sadly, it also took me around the world and away from family. But at no time did my mother ever suggest I was letting her down. On the contrary, she always expressed her pride in being my mother. She never judged me and always loved me whatever my decision in life was.
I now look back with some regret that I missed some important moments in the life of my mother and my siblings, but alas, we have to live by our decisions. Our life is our life and eventually, we all have to fly our own plane.
The hardest thing for me today, however, is the fact that my young son, Bhimal in Colombia, South America will never get to meet his Australian Nanny and mum will never get to make him a sweater or hug him.
But alas, it is what it is and that is how things have played out.
I am forever grateful to my mommy for all of what she did for me as a young boy, and as a man seeking clarity and the hard answers to life’s burning questions. Mum let me discover them on my own terms and always fully blessed my path with the light of her love.
Thank you, mommy. I will always love you.