Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


9 to 30 June 2009

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

My visit to my family in America was beautiful. The eight grandchildren gave me a lot of joy, as did my whole family. I even saw Jal & Dolly Dastoor at the home of John & Karina Page when I was in Los Angeles. Then, one day before flying back to New York, I felt Katie Irani's presence very strongly. I thought to myself  'Oh, Katie must be feeling better.' It was after I was back in NY that I heard our dear Katie went to Baba. So, she must have been saying good-bye when I felt her. A week later I got on a plane to return to India.

When I finished Immigration and came outside of the airport, I was immediately struck by the beauty of the new arrivals area. It looked very artistic, with a huge billowing style covered waiting area shaped like tents, with the bright lights on top of the round pillars that gave support. All along this covered waiting area are 'loading only' parking slots.

I no sooner got in my awaiting car, when the driver got a phone call for me. One of the Meherabad resident's knew which driver I had, and was calling to tell me to not stop in Pune, but come straight to Ahmednagar, as Virginia was in the hospital from a massive stroke. I was told she may only have a short time left.

Since I was planning to buy food in Pune, I called Dr. Gus to ask if he thought I had time to stop in Pune to only buy food on my way home. No, he said. He did not know if Virginia would last the night.

Wednesday 10 June 2009. So, straight to the hospital in Ahmednagar I went. I arrived at the hospital at 4:30 am and was allowed to see Virginia in the ICU for a few minutes. She had not regained consciousness since the stroke.

After going home and unpacking most of my stuff, I tried to get a few hours sleep, than went back to the hospital to sit with Virginia in ICU. Other residents were also taking turns so she would have someone with her saying Baba's name. Later that evening she was shifted to a private room.

Thursday 11 June. In the morning, I took my neighbors Marge and Janaki to say good-bye to Virginia. As I was resting back in my room, I got a phone call around 3:30 pm to come immediately to the hospital. On the way I call Dr. Gus, who told me she had gone to Baba. But, when I reached the hospital, she was breathing again, and the doctors were going to take her back to ICU. I had my hand on her chest for about ten minutes before she quit breathing. Her body was later released and the Meherabad ambulance drove her back to her house, where the body was washed and dressed for the funeral Friday.

My wonderful friend of over 40 years is now with our Beloved Baba. I am very thankful I was able to be with her at the end. Virginia had such a loving heart, and she was very loved by everyone.

Friday 12 June. I went to Virginia's house and helped with the last minute preparations. The ambulance came and took her body to the Samadhi at 9:00 am. The other residents and Baba community were waiting to say good-bye. Her body was placed inside the Samadhi, at the foot of Beloved Baba's shrine. Garlands and flowers were placed before the prayers were said.

Because of the heat, her body was for only a short time put on the Saha Mandap (stone platform across from the Samadhi) before being placed back in the ambulance and driven to the cremation site; next to the old Meher Pilgrim Center in Lower Meherabad.

As the pyre was being prepared, people were able to take flowers and place them around Virginia's body. Beautiful songs were sung as Virginia's housekeeper, servant, caretaker and I lit the pyre. It was a sweet and loving good-bye to one of our dearest residents, our Virginia.

In the evening, Arti was at 5:30 pm and the Dhuni was lit at 6:30 pm. This was a rare day at Meherabad, because two fires were lit.

Saturday 13 June. I was up the hill early to clean Beloved Baba's Cabin Room. My heart was happy to be once again going up the hill in the early morning hours. Back in my room, I continued to put my things away. When I went out back to get my clothes off the clothesline, a crow dived bombed me. Then, another did the same thing. I figured there must be a bird nest nearby and this was the mamma and papa. Later, my neighbor told me the same thing had been happening to her.

We have a huge gulmor tree in the back of our quarters. The tree is not well, and its roots have a fungus. Marge, with the help of others, have been treating it. I sure hope it survives.

Oh, I noticed the inside of my refrigerator was not keeping anything cool. The freezer works fine, but the inside part for the food isn't working. I will have to go into Ahmednagar soon to see if it can be fixed.

In the afternoon, we had a reception meeting at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat to set a schedule for the new pilgrim season. We are going to split the days in two, with the first shift from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. The second shift will be from 1:30 to 6:00 pm. We will close the Reception Office at 6:00 pm and only stay if a new Western pilgrim is arriving. Otherwise, we will leave the sign-in book with the Lobby man and he can sign-in pilgrims up to 7:00 pm. The following day, we will run new reports with the up-to-date information.

Sunday 14 June. Fereshteh, Rox, Laurel, and I went up to the MPR to get things ready for Monday's opening day of the new pilgrim season. Fereshteh and I cleaned the Reading Room book cupboards on the women's side. We also helped the other receptionist do other needed things.

Our Reception Office will also have a new clerk who will do most of the room booking on the computer when he is fully trained. I think this new season will not be so exhausting with our new arrangements. Since some of the receptionists are still in the West, some of us will have to do double shifts for a while, or extra shifts on other days. But it is okay because most of the time it will be only a four and a half hour shift!

Monday 15 June. Fereshteh and I drove to our first day at the MPR. We had nine arrivals, including an Iranian couple that had only read about Baba on the Internet. It was really nice that Fereshteh was on duty, because the woman didn't speak any English. They stayed for a few days, and fell in love with Baba! The woman said she wanted to bring her whole family and friends from Iran to stay at Meherabad. Such is the beautiful love Baba showers on the thirsty hearts.

Tuesday 16 June. I checked in with the DSP (Department of Superintendent of Police). This is required for all foreign nationals. I then went to the Trust Office and helped fill out Virginia's death form that must be sent to the U. S. Embassy in Mumbai. After that was finished, I had to have some blood tests and x-ray work done, because I have had a persistent cough for over two years. I have also been low in energy for the same length of time, so I will be glad to see what the problem has been.

In the evening, I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 pm. It is a most beautiful time to be at the Samadhi. But, the heat is hard to take.

Wednesday 17 June. In the early morning I went up the hill for Darshan at the Samadhi. Then later, Fereshteh and I drove to the MPR for our morning shift. It was so unbelievably wonderful to be able to go home at 1:30 pm. I think I am really going to like these shifts.

I had an afternoon appointment with Dr. Gus so he could look at the result of my medical test. He said he was happy to see it was nothing serious, but there was something in my bronchial tubes. He wanted me to go to a pulmonary specialist in Pune. I got the phone number of the specialist and called. The doctor said to come to the Jahingar Hospital on Thursday.

Thursday 18 June. After early morning Darshan, I took a car to Pune. After breakfast at the German Bakery I stopped at a company called BP Tata. They make the solar panel and batteries that John and Karina have for their house. They told me they have three centers in Ahmednagar and they would send one of their engineers to the house to check the batteries that had been sitting for all these years. Since my family had bought the batteries and solar panels when Sharad was first starting to build their house, those batteries may no longer be good.

Next, I went to Jahingar Hospital to meet with Dr. Aymbekar, the pulmonary specialist. I did the tests, and after Dr. Aymbekar checked the results, he said I had an infection in my bronchial tubes that had been there for some time. After he found out I had Chickungunya three years ago, he said yes, he had seen patients who had Chickungunya, and afterward had developed health problems because the virus had so weaken their immune system. He said I would have to rest and take treatment to cure my problem.

I was very happy to have Dr. Aymbekar confirmed what Dr. Gus said. I didn't have all the horrible things that could have gone wrong. Part of my health problem was not helped by my exhausting schedule—also, working with a contractor on the house who was not honest and played games did not help. I was totally out of my element with that contractor and I use to get very upset. So, the stress from having to deal with him all those months until we finally got a new contractor was exhausting. Plus, last year pilgrim season numbers and the hours at the MPR took their toll on me too. Now, I am cutting back on activity and am trying to learn how to rest more.

I next went to look at new refrigerators. I had found out my old one could take up to three weeks or longer to fix. I decided I wanted more space for my food, and I also didn't want to be without a refrigerator, so I bought a new one. The other one I will take to John & Karina's house that I am helping build, and we can use it there until some future date when they buy a new one.

As I was staying overnight in Pune, I went back to my hotel and rested.

Friday 19 June. I had an appointment with my dermatologist to have a spot removed off my face. When I was young, I use to lay at the beach and get tan. Now, I get spots I have to remove to make sure they are not cancerous.

I had time between appointments, so I went to Baba's house and took Darshan in His room. The energy in His room is always so powerful; it is hard to leave. Then I got Prasad from Parvin (Baba's sister-in-law). She and Virginia really loved each other. I told her Virginia has now gone to Baba. The thought also came to my mind that I may not see Parvin again.

In the afternoon I had an appointment with my dentist. Then, I checked out of the hotel and went back to Meherabad. When we were going down the road near Meherabad, I saw a naked man walking along the side with a woman in a sari. He was a saddu (holy man) and the second naked one I had seen.

Saturday 20 June. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to take Darshan at the Samadhi, and then clean Beloved Baba's Cabin Room. On the way back down the hill, I love to stop on the path and look at the beautiful sunrise lighting the sky. It is such an astounding feeling standing there. There is a coolness that time of day, the path up the hill is wide and large trees give shade, and the sky is filled with amazing colors, and Baba had walked that path. I take that all in while standing there and you can understand a little of what I feel.

Fereshteh cleaned the Jhopdi the day before, so I only had to go get ready for the MPR. I had the morning shift with Kitty. She had done reception work in the past, but I was only there to help if she needed it. We had a number of arrivals, and Kitty handled most by herself. And, I must say, I loved being able to leave at 1:30 pm.

A special DVD had been made of Katie Irani giving a talk at one of the International Young Adult Sahavas we have here each year in Meherabad. This was shown at the Music & Arts Center at 4:30 pm. First tea and snack were served. Katie's interment would be the following morning.

Dr. Anne said when she and Dolly brought Katie's ashes in the urn from Meherazad to Meherabad, to be placed in Beloved Baba's tomb shrine overnight, no sooner had they stepped out of the car, and it started to rain. Later, the whole sky burst open and it poured so hard that we got a few inches of rain! Katie seemed to bring the rain to Meherabad!

Sunday 21 June. Woman Mandali Katie Irani's interment was to take place at 10:00 am. Beloved Baba said she was to be on the right side of His Samadhi, and the order she was to be interred.

I was up the hill shortly after 9:00 am to set up my camcorder to video as much as I could. Later I came to realize it was not the best spot, but it was too late to change. I was able to video the inside of where Katie's urn would be placed. The inside paintings were done by Sarah Schall. She had helped take care of Katie for the last number of years.

A notice had been put up on different information boards in Meherabad to inform all pilgrims that Meherazad requested there be no embracing of the Meherazad family on this occasion.

Meheru arrive around 10:00 am and went into the East Room to arrange the garlands and flowers that were to be placed on the different shrines. This is the standard procedure when the women Mandali came up the hill for Darshan at Beloved Baba's shrine. Now Meheru is the last woman Mandali alive. She came with some of Katie's family, including her sister.

There were many pilgrims from Mumbai and Pune, many long time friends of dear Katie. There was an air of something beautiful and sacred happening. Katie spent her whole life in service to Baba, and it was His wish she be interred for all time next to His holy shrine. To be part of this historic event, to be able to experience the energy and atmosphere of this interrment was felt, I believe, by all who attended.

My video will be given to the LA Baba Center. There were many beautiful photos taken. In fact I saw how beautiful some of them were, and asked if they would send some to the Love Street Lamp Post for the special tribute to Katie they will write.

I had the afternoon shift at the MPR Reception Office. It is so lovely to know I will no longer be exhausted from the long hours. There was a huge downpour of monsoon rain in the afternoon.

Monday 22 June. Fereshteh and I drove to the MPR for our day of a double shift. On the way we passed the nomadic shepherds and their sheep. They come through Meherabad a few times a year. When they pick a field to camp, they hobble their horses and pitch their tents. What a timeless scene.

I got a call from the company that I bought my new refrigerator from. They were in front of the Meher Clinic in Arangaon village, and they wanted to deliver my refrigerator and were waiting for me to take them to my house. I left Fereshteh in charge of the Reception Office and met the men. We went to my house and with help from some Meherabad workers, we put the new refrigerator in the kitchen. The old refrigerator was loaded on the open rickshaw and taken to the Page house. I will have it fixed and it can be used there until a new one is bought.

I went back to the MPR and was happy to see Fereshteh had done a wonderful job of helping train Camilla, who will come on Monday mornings for a few weeks for training. She will then either take a shift or be a 'fill in' when one of the regular receptionists needs time off.

Tuesday 23 June. I had an appointment at 11:00 am with Dr. Gus. He was to look at the results of my pulmonary tests. He was happy to see that it was only an infection and not something more. Dr. Gus too said he had found he was surprised how many had not gotten their health restored after having Chickungunya. He said he would study my test and set another appointment when he was ready to prescribe a treatment.

In the evening I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 pm. I first went to visit Jaloo, who lives in the building directly behind the Samadhi.

Wednesday 24 June. I went up the hill for an early Darshan at the Samadhi. Again it was so beautiful seeing the morning sunrise from the hill. It made a lovely walk home.

Fereshteh and I drove to the MPR. We had the morning shift in the Reception Office. Oh how sweet it is to be able to go home at lunch time!

Thursday 25 June. This was a day of just doing things that I had to do.

Friday 26 June. In the morning I had a meeting with the new contractor, Joshi, at the Page house. He had done a water test of the pipes in the three bathrooms he is working on. There were no leaks, so it was now time to put cement on the floor, and seal the pipes in the walls.

Saturday 27 June. I was up the hill by 5:30 am to clean Beloved Baba's Cabin Room. Fereshteh had cleaned the Jhopdi, so I only had to go home and get ready for the Historic Tour of Meherabad at 10:00 am.

There wasn't anyone waiting at the old MPC for the Tour, so I had the rest of the morning off. I had to be at the MPR though at 1:30 pm for the afternoon shift in the Reception Office. This is the shift were we rotate turns.

Sunday 28 June. My neighbor, Marge, had been treating our huge, beautiful gulmar tree that is in the back of our houses. The tree got some type of fungus in its roots, and all the leaves started drying up. Some other residents are also helping. We really love that tree and hope it will make it.

I had the afternoon shift at the MPR at 1:30 pm. We closed the office at 6:00 pm. I love these shorter hour days!

Monday 29 June. Fereshteh and I drove to the MPR for our day of double shift in the Reception Office. Camilla, one of the Meherabad residents, came in the morning shift to train. Most of our young pilgrims checked out of the MPR to check in at Hostel-C. This was opening day for the International Young Adult Sahavas. There were I think 101 Sahavasees. It will go on for six days with many activities.

This was also the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the Avatar Meher Baba Ahmednagar Center by Beloved Baba Himself on 29th June 1959. The Center is adjacent to the Avatar Meher Baba Trust Office. Their program was to go from 6:30-8:30 pm with bajans, music and other forms of celebration. Dinner was to follow and all were invited to attend. We put a notice up for the pilgrims to sign if they were going, so they would be taken off of dinner at the MPR. The bus left the MPR at 6:00 pm.

Tuesday 30 June. Lately, I have tried to sleep in as late as I can, as I am trying to recover my health from the bronchial infection. It will take time to heal, but it would not help if I kept the schedule I have lived with for many years. I really need to slow down for a period of time. In fact, I have almost forgotten how to 'rest'.

Later, I went to the Page house under construction. The tile work in the first three bathrooms will start soon. Then I had a late morning appointment with Dr. Gus. He gave me some ayurvedic medicine, Steptillin, that works on the bronchial tubes. I also will take some homeopathy, but first Dr. Gus wants to study what would most help.

Meher Baba said it was important to take care of our health. So, that is what I am doing now.

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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