by Christina Arasmo Beymer
Laura Lee Thompson Arasmo (July 14, 1945–March 30, 2014, 1:55 pm) breathed her last breath hearing the name that brought her great joy in life: Meher Baba. This is her eulogy:
Mom was authentic and guileless and that’s what I appreciate the most in anyone.
She cared a great deal for the people in her life and the more she cared, the more she would go on and on with worry about you, especially if she wasn’t in a position to help. When she could help through a form of counseling, she’d write long, long letters, clean your house, re-paint it meticulously, cook excellent food, and do various other things. She was a hard, hard worker.
When I was pregnant and due in a month, I finally decided to placate her when she insisted that I see a high risk ob/gyn in St. Petersburg named Dr. Raul Montenegro. I just wanted to stay with my nurse-midwife. Dr. Montenegro was very warm and intuitive and on a whim gave me a sonogram. He found Mani’s birth defect, a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. Had I stayed with the nurse-midwife, Mani would have probably died or suffered long term damage as she needed to be immediately intubated and a team of NICU people on the job right after delivery. When Mani was in the NICU, Mom called in the wee hours and said she felt that the baby was hot. I got on the job and found that Mani’s neonatal bed had the temperature turned up too high. Then they said she had a “fever” and were going to give her gentamicin (before even the lab results came back). I told them to forget it as it causes significant hearing damage. Since the “fever” was from the bed, the lab results, naturally, turned out to be negative. Many of the children with Mani’s defect have to get cochlear implants.
Mom was very, very fond of being of use to others and I think that is why she wanted to die as it appeared she wouldn’t go back to “normal.” If her close ones didn’t need her for something, her patients certainly did. She enjoyed that aspect of nursing throughly. She knew her medicine and kept up on the latest as she could. She aced nursing school and tested out of anatomy and physiology after a 20 year break between nursing school and getting her RN.
Given that each person’s health and situation is unique, she would ask God to help her as she walked in to see each patient. Without a doubt, she said, that many problems were avoided, conflicting medications found, and less suffering resulted. She was also able to work with many types of personalities and patients would ask for her time and again. I recall a patient who was dying and Mom had grown very close to her. After Mom’s shift ended and she was home, she saw a golden light and felt a lot of love. She found out the next day that the woman had died then.
I remember Albert and Diane who were an exceptionally poor couple whom Mom was very fond of. Albert was paralyzed from the waist down and Mom spent a great deal of time getting a proper bed for him among other things. She bought them a VCR and would often visit them years after she was getting paid to do so.
Her many pastimes included gardening, painting homes, restoring old furniture, and reading book after book on many subjects. She did a significant amount of self-reflection. Mom said that she didn’t like herself and she struggled with depression on and off. She and I would frequently discuss self-hate, which is the product of pride, as in the phrase “I wouldn’t be part of a club who would have me.” Over time I believe she became more neutral. I think her feelings about herself began from having a traumatic early childhood in which she was sent away to Florida at age three. She said that lack of parental love and acceptance probably propelled her on a search for self-understanding and her spiritual truth. She found her spiritual home in the mid-seventies in following Meher Baba. Being involved with Meher Baba’s followers, traveling to India, and spending time with many of Baba’s disciples and family gave her a lot of happiness as well as close relationships with people who accepted her as she was.
One of our favorite quotes from Meher Baba gives me solace at this time:
In the divine scales, vice and virtue are necessary experiences man goes through before attaining the supreme balance of Self-realisation, which is beyond all opposites, good and bad.
Good is like a clean mirror that reflects the image of God. When true knowledge is gained, you realise that the reflection is the image of your own self, the God that is in all and in everything.
Bad is like the dusty particles that accumulate and hide the image of God, until the mirror presents only a distorted or blank surface. It cannot affect the object being reflected; it merely distorts your vision.
Love is the cleanser that wipes the mirror bright, and enables you to behold with increasing clarity the indivisible entity that permeates all life.
[Meher Baba, Life at Its Best]
Please sign Laura’s Guest Book.