By Kesava Bharati Swami
ARE YOU READY to hear about a miracle? Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with yet another story about some pseudo-miracle-worker. This story is about a seventy-nine-year-old woman completely set in her ways who, at the most difficult time of death, had a change of heart that brought her from the brink of terror to tears of joy. The woman was my mother. Born Nadine Alma Eastlack, she was conservative to the extreme. Her early life read like a chapter from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Her family narrowly escaped the dust bowl by migrating from Grinnell, Kansas, to the “Promised Land” of Southern California, landing in the fire of the Great Depression. After struggling to put herself through college and marrying a minor war hero, Leslie Waldo Beck, she attained middle-class status. While raising me, their only child, in the northern California town of Oroville, my parents both worked he as a parts manager of a local car dealership, and she as a high school teacher of sewing, cooking, and home economics. My parents watched with pride as their only son excelled in music, scholarship, and athletics, achieving numerous awards culminating in the “Young Man of the Year Award” for the class of 1964 at Oroville High. After high school, I attended UCLA, graduating with honors in 1968 and landing my first job as assistant to the studio manager at Columbia Pictures. About a year later, however, shortly after sweeping my mother off her feet with a whirlwind tour of the studio, I left that promising career, disillusioned with the superficiality of the Hollywood scene.