Although ISKCON guru Tamal Krishna Goswami passed away in 2002 at the age of fifty six, his mother Lore Garrick—affectionately known to devotees as “Mother Lore” or to TKG disciples as “Grandma”—outlived him by eleven years.
Mother Lore passed away in an extremely auspicious manner on April 30th in the ISKCON community of Hare Krishna Dham, Houston, at the ripe old age of 92.
Her life was a fascinating one.
She was born Leisalotte Lore on December 8th, 1920 in Bielefeld, Germany to Herta and Carl Philipp.
Growing up, young Lore attended private schools where there was much emphasis on attendance, punctuality, and etiquette. She was also taught to speak “proper” German—all qualities which stayed with her throughout her life.
As a child, Lore was the darling of her parents and extended family. Her mother, a seamstress, stitched all of Lore’s clothes and taught the girl the skill at a very young age. Her grandfather would let her observe as he worked in his watchmaking shop.
Sadly Lore’s father, whom she remembered as a good provider, died when she was only six years old. Her mother remarried, and the family relocated to Heidelberg.
In January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor (Prime Minister) of Germany, and began his reign of terror. Discrimination and fear were in store for Lore, now aged 12, and her Jewish family.
On April 1st, 1933, Hitler introduced a one-day boycott of Jewish businesses all over Germany. Uniformed Nazi guards, some armed, stood in front of Jewish businesses and intimidated customers who tried to enter. Some shattered store windows, ransacked stores, and beat owners.
The cloth business owned by Lore’s family was not exempt from discrimination. Lore remembered customers making sure not to leave with parcels in case they were caught purchasing from a Jewish-owned business. She also recalled being terrified as she carried out her job of delivering parcels by bicycle.
For the rest of the year and into 1934, the anti-semitic discrimination and bigotry escalated. An ideal standard for an Aryan race was defined and taught in public schools. Jewish children had to sit in the back of the classroom and were verbally and physically abused by their teachers and classmates. Textbooks were rewritten to indoctrinate the Nazi ideology and attack the Jewish religion and culture. The common greeting of “Gutten morgan” (Good morning) was replaced with “Heil Hitler!”
From left to right – Kriyashakti Dasi, Padaduli Dasi, Mother Lore, Padaduli’s husband Rasikendra Das, and their daughter Tamal Priya
“For the weekly assembly, our classmates appeared in their Hitler Youth uniforms,” Lore recalled. “We Jewish girls stood out. In the class of about forty, only two of us were Jews. We were no longer allowed to share the two-seat desk with a non-Jew. All kinds of rules came to be enforced. My classmates made believe they did not know me.”
When German President Paul von Hindenburg died in August 1934, Hitler became Fuhrer. Things were about to get much worse.
But fortunately in 1936, at the age of fifteen, Lore and her family escaped and moved to England and safety. There, she went to boarding school, where she learned to speak “The Queen’s English.”
Later, in the early 1940s, her family were given passage to the United States, where they lived in New York. Lore married James Herzig and on June 18th, 1946 she gave birth to her only son, Thomas—who would become Tamal Krishna Goswami.
When Thomas was somewhere between six and eight years old, James and Lore divorced. Lore remarried to Harvey Garrick, and opened up Lore’s, a successful jewelry store in New York.
Towards the end of her work days, she would call her son Thomas, now twelve, at home and direct him in how to begin preparing dinner—telling him to put water on the stove and which vegetables to cut.
In 1968, Thomas joined the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and was initiated with the name Tamal Krishna by his guru A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Soon after, in 1972, he received sannyasa initiation and became Tamal Krishna Goswami.
Remembering things she had done against her own parent’s will as a youth, Lore had always pledged that she would respect her son’s decisions, whatever they were. And she did.
“She was favorable from day one,” says Padaduli Dasi, a disciple of Tamal Krishna Goswami who took Lore into her home for one-and-a-half years from 2010 to 2011. “She met Srila Prabhupada, and was very happy that her son was under Prabhupada’s care.”
Mother Lore with devotees at Radha Nila Madhava’s garden in Houston
Using her skills as a jewelry designer, Lore made the first jewelry for Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarkadish, the presiding Deities of ISKCON Los Angeles, which They wore during Their installation ceremony. She was also often visited by devotees at her home.
Although Tamal Krishna Goswami did not personally see his mother for many years, he did keep in touch through letters and phone calls.
Lore, meanwhile, retained an almost mystical connection to the devotees through her Krishna conscious son, whom she always thought of.
“In the late 1980s, she would travel to South America by herself to collect artifacts [for her business],” Padaduli says. “One time, she was going down the Amazon River, and saw some devotees coming the other way. Seeing them, she went towards their boat, and introduced herself: ‘I’m the mother of Tamal Krishna Goswami.’ Just imagine—in the middle of nowhere in the jungle, the Hare Krishnas and the mother of a Hare Krishna devotee meet! She was very happy to see the devotees!”
In the 1990s, when he became a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, Tamal Krishna Goswami was reunited with his mother in person. Devotees recall that he was very happy when she visited Lord Krishna’s sacred home town of Vrindavana in India in the mid 1990s, and circumambulated Govardhana Hill.
In April 2010, Tamal Krishna Goswami disciples Padaduli and Rasikendra Das took Lore, who was suffering from dementia and a low blood platelet count, into their home in Houston. She became part of the family, getting along very well with the couple’s young daughter, Tamal Priya, whom she would play hide and seek with.
Finally, in her last year, feeling that she was imposing, Lore moved into a house provided by the devotees at Houston’s Hare Krishna Dham.
“She was a sweet lady,” says Kriyashakti Dasi, who stayed with Lore and lived with her for the year leading up to her passing. “She was like a grand dame. She was the end of an era for courtesies and politeness.”
Mother Lore with Kriyashakti Dasi, who took care of her for one year until her passing
“She was very gracious,” Padaduli adds. “And grateful. She always appreciated every little thing you did for her. She would say thank you again and again. She would write thank you notes to anyone who ever did anything for her.”
Lore was also known for being thrifty and unwasteful. She was always conscious of turning off lights, and would never leave even a single grain on her plate when served prasadam (sanctified food).
Towards the end, Lore’s condition made her forget long term relationships. But still, she greeted all visitors graciously and happily, never letting on that she did not remember them.
Three months before she passed away, Lore was diagnoised with leukemia. Devotees began to hold kirtans at her house three times a week. During the last week, when she became bedridden, they came every night.
“Often she forgot that her son had already departed, and she was waiting for him to come,” says Padaduli. “I told her, ‘Your son is with Krishna and Prabhupada, and he’s waiting for you to go to him.’ She was very peaceful after that.”
On the morning of Tuesday, April 30th, Padaduli visited Lore.
“I had the feeling she was going to leave her body,” she says. “So I brought my Saligrama Sila and Narasimha Sila [Deities in the form of stones]. I put them on her head. Then I brought Narasimha Sila towards her hand. She grabbed Narasimha Sila very tight, and then we put Prabhupada and Tamal Krishna Goswami’s pictures on her chest. We tied a cloth that had belonged to Tamal Krishna Goswami on her hand. We put the Deities’ garlands around her. She was very peaceful. Her breathing was very calm.”
Mother Lore with Padaduli and Rasikendra’s daughter Tamal Priya, whom she would play hide and seek with
Devotees had come to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, and they sang with heartfelt devotion as Mother Lore passed away at exactly 1:08pm. Seeing the time—a highly auspicious number in Gaudiya Vaishnava theology—the devotees sang with even more enthusiasm. The kirtan soared, and the Holy Name filled the room.
Kriyashakti placed a sacred Tulasi life and Ganga water in Lore’s mouth, while Padaduli marked her body with tilak. Devotees filled the room and spilled out into the hallway, offering flower petals and paying their last respects to their “Grandma.” The kirtan continued for five hours.
At 6pm, as Lore’s body was lovingly carried out to a waiting vehicle set for the funeral home, the sun shone and a light shower fell, another auspicious sign. As the vehicle took Lore away, the devotees touched their heads to the wet pavement in obeisance.
The next day, on Wednesday May 1st, a memorial and last rites ceremony was held for Mother Lore. Over one hundred people attended, including Lore’s relative Peter Grunwald, and ISKCON gurus Giriraja Swami, Guru Prasad Swami, and Ritadhvaja Swami.
Bathed, marked with tilak and dressed in a new silk sari, Mother Lore lay in a simple pine box, as the ceremony began with memories of her life and passing.
“It was an extraordinary farewell to Lotte [Lore’s childhood name],” says Peter Grunwald. “She was referred to with such affection by the devotees either as Mother Lore or Grandma. Twenty people spoke about their personal relationship with Lotte: many funny stories, many deep insightful experiences. Lotte was THE mother to their Master and as such was so highly regarded that she gave birth to their Teacher. So without needing to practice Lore was part of Krishna Consciousness.”
Rasikendra Das helps mother Lore cut the cake at her 92nd birthday
Grunwald adds: “We as family were an integrate aspect of this ceremony, and I feel privileged to be there for us and myself honoring Lore’s heritage and honoring Tamal’s community, as well as his individual dedication and devotion. I believe Lore was surrounded in the past eighteen months by so much love, gratitude, care, and devotion by friends who deeply, passionately cared about her.”
After the memories, Dallas temple president Nityananda Das led the last rites ceremony, accompanied by the constant chanting of the Holy Names. And so Mother Lore, a unique and very special woman, passed away from this world in the most auspicious circumstances.
“Many times when Lore and I would go for an afternoon wheelchair walk we would visit the temple and go in for darshan,” Kriyashakti recalls. “I would take off Lore’s shoes and wheel in the chair. First to pay respects at the vyasasana where I would point out Tamal Krishna Maharaja’s picture to her. Then I would wheel her around and have darshan of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, then to Radha Nila Madhava’s altar. There, I would park Lore in front of Srimati Radharani. I would observe how Srimati Radharani would lovingly gaze down upon her, seated in the wheelchair. I would pray for Radharani to please shower Her mercy upon Mother Lore.”
Kriyashakti feels that her prayers were answered. “Sri Sri Radha Nila Madhava showered Their mercy upon this tiny woman, who had the heart of a lion,” she says.
Much of the early part of Mother Lore’s life described in this article was lifted—occasionally word for word—from Kriyashakti Dasi’s blog detailing her time with Lore. To read this informative, inspiring blog in full, please visit http://mother-lore.blogspot.com/.
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