Since mom passed away, sharing this story has become sort of a Mother's Day tradition for me.
My mom always liked the Dalai Lama. No,she wasn't a Buddhist, and once we were older, didn't attend church much. But she believed in religion and called herself spiritual.
She always wanted to meet the Dalai Lama. "He's just one of those people I've always liked," she would tell me." I'd nod my head and agree. He was someone I always had on my list of people I'd like to meet too. "I hope I get to see him one day" she'd say.
Mom passed away suddenly on Labor Day nearly a six years ago. I didn't talk about it on my show at the time. I also didn't post about it on Facebook or explain why I was off air for a few weeks to listeners. It was too hard. Too personal.
But a few months after her passing, something wonderful happened, which is why I've decided to share this. I was able to meet the Dalai Lama, and out of a pool of hundreds or reporters, I was one of three chosen to ask him a question at a news conference. He stood right in front of me, was short, but had a great smile and a contagious laugh. It may sound silly, but I felt a lump develop in my throat before I had the chance to ask him my question. I don't know why I was so nervous or emotional...but that's apparently the effect he can have on even the most cynical of reporters I was later told (and I never considered myself cynical).
I knew how much this would have meant to mom, and how proud she would have been of me. What are the odds of someone like me, getting to meet someone like him, on Mother's Day weekend?
Oh, the question I asked, well that's not important now, but he gave a good answer and laughed quite a bit (he has a great sense of humor... and did I mention how I loved his laugh). Several reporters came up to me afterwards and said "That was a really good question and I learned something about him I didn't already know." That felt nice.
In all honestly, I would have liked to have asked him about my mom, and if he thought she had a hand in this meeting, but that didn't seem the 'reporter thing to do' in a crowded room with other journalists and the governor of Oregon sitting next to me (I was working in Portland at the time).
So, I won't be able to send mom flowers this year. There will be no phone call, or flight home to see her. But as I left Veterans Memorial Coliseum that morning, I had a feeling I was able to give her one final gift that she would have loved. Hopefully she saw it through my eyes. Happy Mother's Day mom.