Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


1 to 15 September 2009

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

This will be the last Meherabad Diary until I return to Meherabad. My sister has cancer, and at this point I don't know what kind of treatment will be required. I told her she would not have to go through this alone; I will be with her as long as she needs me. So, I only bought a one-way ticket to the States; the return time is totally up to Baba. I leave next week, the 23rd of September.

Tuesday 1 September 2009. I was up the hill early to take morning Darshan at the Samadhi. Every time I go into the Samadhi, I remember Heather & Erico to Beloved Baba. All our hearts are praying for them, to the Beloved; we are sure they have been heard, that I have no doubt.

When I got home, I did my workout with a video and than had a quick bath. I picked up Fereshteh at 7:55 AM and drove to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. We had a meeting for the Receptionists at 8:15 AM in the Staff Room.

We had to reschedule our shifts for the Reception Office. With Heather not available for quite some time, and Becky Kent gone, there were temporary changes to make. We are so thankful Scott Himmelbach is now here; he is here for at least six months. We also have a long-term pilgrim who will cover some shifts. It is so much easier to cover a shift rather than a whole day—especially when that day could last for more then ten hours!

We also discussed a need for a metal cupboard to store maps, books and other things. Then, I remembered our built-in cupboard in the Lobby. When we were preparing to open the MPR in June of 06, our Reception Office decided to keep cupboard #1 in the Lobby for our use. I would have to check it out later.

I hired a car to take me into the bazaar to look for a certain kind of ceiling fan for the Page house. I didn't have any luck, so I will have to go to Pune. Karina had emailed a list of shops in Pune that the Internet listed as carrying the one they wanted. Before returning home, I stopped at Yash & Joli to pick up some food, and also my umbrella I forgot there last week. I had my name on the umbrella, so it was easy to identify.

In the afternoon, a Meherabad worker came by to measure the door width for the new 'security bar' being put in all Staff quarter rooms if requested. In movies of the 'drawbridge big doors of the castle, there is a long bar that goes across the doors. Well, that is the same principle for the inside of our room doors. It will be very secure.

Wednesday 2 September. I slept later than usual, as I didn't want to walk up the hill in the dark through all the mud from the days and nights of rain we have had. I am happy about the rain, but it does make walking difficult, especially when it is still dark out.

I got ready for my morning at the MPR, than picked up Fereshteh and Zahra on the way. Though there was only one arrival, it was a very busy morning. First, we found out the Staff Room door key went missing. Since we don't know who may find the key, we changed the door lock.

Then we went to get the key to the Lobby cupboard #1—that too was gone. This cupboard we have kept for the Reception Office since the very beginning. We gave permission for the use of one shelf to Peter Booth to keep his DVD's in, as he likes to show a Baba film on Friday nights at the MPR. Since Peter was in the USA visiting, we did not know where to find the key. Finally, the Lobbyman found a key that had the same serial number as the lock, and sure enough it worked. I had that lock also changed. The Reception Office would now be the only one with a key.

When we opened the doors, it was obvious the cupboard had not been used in a very long time; spiders and cobwebs were everywhere—yuck!!! Scott had come early for lunch, so he was with us during the key hunt and the lock change. Scott said he would arrange for housekeeping to clean the cupboard. And, now we had a place to store the donated books for the MPR, as well as other stuff.

The Medical Update with news of Erico & Heather was sent to us. We put it on the Dining Hall door for the pilgrims to read. This is where we have been putting the latest updates.

Thursday 3 September. I love the morning walk up the hill for Darshan, but with so much mud from all the rain, I decided to drive. The little puppies were at my door to greet me as I opened it. I put them in their enclosed yard so I could drive without worry they might get under the wheels.

When I returned home, I did a workout with one of my videos. I had the day free, so I took advantage and did some writing, and errands around Meherabad. Then at 1:00 PM I drove to the Page house to meet with Sunil (the electrician) and Kishore, our supervisor. Sunil wanted to take me through each room, testing all wall outlets and light sockets. He had completed the wiring in most of the rooms, and had now turned on the electricity in those rooms. However, when I got to the house there was no electricity in the whole area! The State Electrical Company rotates our hours of usage. The electricity was turned off at 12:00 noon. I set up next Tuesday morning for a 'walk through' of the rooms.

The Meherabad workers had put on the 'security bars' on my neighbor's doors. Since it was late, I think they will do mine tomorrow.

Friday 4 September. I wanted to go up the hill for morning Darshan, so I had to put the two puppies in their fenced enclosure. It had been raining most of the night, and once again I drove my car near the Dhuni and parked; from there I walked to the Samadhi.

When I got back home, I had a car waiting to take me to Pune. I had to buy some ceiling fans for the Page house. In Pune, I first dropped off some stuff for those caring for Heather & Erico. Then, I had to find the shop that carried the special ceiling fans. The house needs eight, but the shop had only two, so we ordered six more.

I stopped at Dorobji's to buy puppy chew bone chews before I had lunch at Malaka Spice. I ordered a different duck dish from the last time I was there. Malaysian food is so delicious!

Bhauji talked at the MPC at 4:30 PM. First tea and snack were served at 4:00 PM.

Saturday 5 September. Around 12:30 AM in the morning, I got a call from my oldest daughter, Mehera, telling me my sister was in the hospital. She had a large growth on her liver. Test would be given to see if it was malignant or not. I immediately called my sister. I let her know I would be there for her if she needed an operation.

I was up the hill early for Darshan at Beloved Baba's Samadhi. Then I cleaned Baba's Cabin Room. Before going back down the hill, I put flowers on the Gadi and Samadhi threshold.

There were a few people waiting for the Tour of Meherabad Historic Sites. However, with the weather threatening rain, we only did the Lower Meherabad part. At 4:30 PM, a concert by Bob Een was given in the MPC Hall.

Sunday 6 September. I called the hospital again to talk with my sister for a little while before getting ready for my morning shift at the MPR. When I was on duty, I got a call from one of the resident's telling me Erico went to Baba. Erico is now free and happy in Baba. He was so fortunate to have not known any pain. Some of the workers and I said the prayers for Erico and Heather. Then we put a notice with the news on the Dining Hall door.

When the bus came back from Meherazad, I asked the pilgrims when they heard the news about Erico. They said they were in Mandali Hall, and the Parvardigar film had just been shown, when the announcement was made.

Later, the news came that Erico's body would be brought by ambulance to Meherabad Mandali Hall, reaching around 8:00 or 9:00 PM. I went to the hall around 7:00 PM. A stretcher for his body to be transferred to was inside Mandali Hall. The one he would be brought in the ambulance on would be returned in the ambulance to Pune.

Rugs covered most of the floor, with some chairs in the very back. A police jeep escort first drove past the door and parked, then the ambulance almost immediately arrived. There were a number of us standing outside Mandali Hall who greeted our dear Erico's body. His face remained covered—as requested by his family. When his body was transferred to the new cot, a beautiful photo of Erico and Heather was placed just below his chin.

The police came and stayed for the prayers. Scott came for a while, and then said he would be on duty the whole of Monday, and I didn't have to go in. I was planning to just close the Reception Office until after the funeral, but he really wanted to be on duty. So, I said okay.

A bus from the MPR brought pilgrims around 9:00 PM, right after they finished their dinner. At 11:30 PM it took them back to the MPR. If anyone wanted to stay the night in Mandali Hall they were allowed to do so.

Bob Een, Hooyar, Steve Myhro, and some others stayed all night. I heard the music and singing continued non-stop. I would have loved to remain, but I have never been any good at staying up all night, so I went home for a few hours sleep.

Monday 7 September. When I woke, I had coffee and then called my sister. It was her birthday. I told her it was strange wishing her a 'Happy Birthday' while she was in the hospital. Then I called my brother and wished him a Happy Birthday—you see, they are twins.

I went back to Meherabad Mandali Hall about 7:30 AM. Soon the hall began to fill with residents, villagers, and pilgrims. Prayers were again said.

Some of the Trustees asked me to get my camera and video the funeral for Heather. I had to go to my room to get it. Farouk Bastani offered to give me a ride on his motorcycle, as it was faster than my car. By the time I returned, some of the men in Mandali Hall were just starting to lift up Erico's body on the stretcher. So, that is where I began to video, with Erico being carried out of Mandali Hall and put in the Meherabad ambulance.

There were several hundred people waiting at the Samadhi. Meredi held a cell phone and described every detail to Heather, who was listening from her hospital bed. The body was taken to the Samadhi, where it was placed inside. Meheru, Merwan, and Bhau came. The stretcher was carried out of the Samadhi and placed a short distance from the front of the door. This way there was room for Meheru, Merwan, and Bhau to take Darshan. Before Erico's body was placed back in the ambulance, Heather requested the body be taken to Mehera's side next. Meheru, Merwan, and Bhau placed garlands on Mehera's shrine. Erico's body was then put back into the ambulance to be driven to the cremation site.

The road by the cremation site looked like there were dozens and dozens of motorcycles that lined both sides. There was hundreds of Baba lovers and villagers who came to say good-bye to Erico. What a great soul he was! What an amazing life he lived! After the cremation, I went to the MPR to check if everything was okay. I had lunch there with friends, as I just wanted the comfort of fellow Baba lovers. I felt so drained the rest of the day.

Tuesday 8 September. I slept late, and then got ready for the Receptionist meeting in the MPR Staff Room at 8:15 AM. Fereshteh and Suzie were not well, so Scott and I were the only ones at the meeting.

There was a 'Security' meeting in the MPC Hall at 4:00 PM. The police from Ahmednagar came. There were four police officers and two of our Trustees who sat at the table. At first the police spoke in Marathi and Mehernath translated into English. Later, the police felt comfortable enough to speak in English. They told us the problems they face with lack of funds and under staff. There will be a police sub-station built locally, but they have many villages to cover. So, it was decided we would hire private armed-guards who would work with the police in patrolling are large Baba community around Meherabad.

The meeting ended around 5:45 PM. I had to walk quickly up the hill to be on time for my 6:00 PM Samadhi duty.

Wednesday 9 September. I went up the hill early for morning Darshan at the Samadhi. Then I got ready for my morning shift at the MPR. I have been feeling heavy and tired again. I think my heart is just warn out right now.

There was a Baba film in the afternoon at 4:30 PM in the Music & Arts Center. Tea and snack was served first on the verandah at 4:00 PM.

In the evening there was a potluck at the Muir compound. This year it was the—09-09-09 party. Last year it was the 08-08-08 year. The timing of this potluck was perfect. We so badly needed a gathering to just let go. It had been so heart crushing and devastating these past weeks, we needed to let some of the pain out. Beer, wine, good food, and better company brought relief from so much pain.

Thursday 10 September. I went up the hill for Darshan at the Samadhi. Then I had an 11:00 AM appointment with Joshi, the contractor, at the Page house. My sister found out she has cancer, and since I could be leaving any day now to be with my sister, I had to go over every detail that may come up in the next few months. We decided to save the laundry room until I return, because I would need to buy the washing machine and dryer in order for the electrical outlets, etc to be built.

Friday 11 September. I went up the hill for early Darshan at the Samadhi. When I returned to my room I did a workout with one of my videos before getting dressed and driving to the Page house for two morning appointments.

I again met with Joshi, and also with Jeff at the house. He and Joshi marked where the driveway would be and where the exact location would be for the cistern to be built under the driveway. All the pitch areas of the roof will have gutters that will drain into the cistern. On the way back to my room I stopped at the MPC to listen to Bhauji talk. I seldom have a chance to hear Bhau, so I was happy I was able to.

Saturday 12 September. This was Dhuni Day. I went up the hill early to take Darshan at the Samadhi before cleaning Baba's Cabin Room. Because of the constant rain, I needed to walk with an umbrella. When I got back to my room, I called the MPR and told the Lobbyman to cancel the Historical Tour of Meherabad on the white board, and to give a note to the Receptionist when she arrived.

The past week or so our two puppies have not been eating much. Also, they have been staying a lot at a neighbor's. I went to the neighbor and asked to please stop feeding our puppies, as they were not eating their regular food. The neighbor apologized for giving them lots of 'cookies' and said he would stop. This had an immediate effect of the puppies—they started staying home and eating their food!

Sunday 13 September. I did not want to deal with all the mud, so I didn't go up the hill early. I had Reception duty at the MPR at 9:00 AM. I had lunch with friends, and then went home for a nap.

Deena called to see if I wanted to contribute toward the hiring of armed guard. I told her absolutely! The Page house would be part of the patrol area of the armed guards. As for my own room in staff quarters, the armed guards hired by the Trust would patrol the whole Trust estate. The hired armed guards paid for by private Baba community members had to be paid separately.

I then went up the hill and spent time in the Samadhi. I also stopped to visit Jaloo. The weather had been so hot and sticky, and a big storm brought lightening and thunder in the evening.

Monday 14 September. I went up the hill in the early morning hours for Darshan. Then I got ready for my morning shift at the MPR. Fereshteh was not able to come with me. It was my last day in the Reception Office, as I would be leaving for the States next week to be with my sister.

I saw Deena talking with our MPR security men, introducing them to the privately hired armed security guards. They would work with the hired armed guards the Trust hired.

Jeff, our MPR garden supervisor, had hired a large backhoe to remove all the plants around the perimeter of the MPR, making sure visibility was clear for all our security guards. I took pictures of the work and sent them to Dina for the LSLP if she wanted to use any.

I went by the Page house on my way home. The South bathroom is underway, and the workers wanted to also get started on the Master bathroom. I went into Ahmednagar and bought the special bathtub for the Master bath. The type of shower that was originally chosen turned out to be so very expensive, so I sent an email to the Pages suggesting a less expensive one. I then stopped by the MPC to listen to Bhauji.

Tuesday 15 September. I went up the hill for Darshan at the Samadhi before getting ready for the 8:15 AM Receptionist meeting in the MPR Staff room. We talked about a temporary schedule until David Bowling comes next month. I am going to be in the States for an unknown amount of time, as my sister's cancer treatment could take quite a bit of time, and I will be with her as long as she needs me.

We talked about any issues we would like to bring up at the next day's Group Meeting. This would be our first group meeting since the attack on Heather & Erico.

In the evening, I had Samadhi duty. It sure brings comfort to the soul to spend time at the Samadhi, and I will miss being here.

In Beloved Baba's sweetest love, Judy

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