Janet Chaize – Things that I deeply appreciate that Toni passed on: Her palpable “one-minded love” and joy. Her teachings on “don’t know mind.”
When stress hits, this memory of her comes to me. I hear Toni’s voice saying “Don’t know mind.” and I see her smile and her love just flowing out of her so deeply. Thank you Toni.
Lucie Zaugg-Leiser – In one moment, when I had to wait long hours at the Philly Airport to change for Rochester, several words came into my mind, which I had heard the first time from my Aunty Toni. She taught them to me when I was a child. It was a special moment of lightness, that they came into my mind all of a sudden. One of the words she taught me me was, “leftovers.” [laughter] I had to laugh so many times about these German translated English words that Toni used in our presence.
The three words I do remember so well, when I was a child, she used to say, “This is gorgeous!” or “This is terrific!” or she said, “This is amazing!” I now consider that these expressions have been of such great value and beauty for me. I experienced, how particular these expressions have been for me. When Toni spoke them to me as a child, I saw her bright and friendly face, thinking that this was something great. These English expressions have been some of the most impressive that I learned to know. I really loved my aunt and godmother also for that. Thank you.
Peter Santschi – I clearly remember three words from Toni: Listen, Look, Question. Those three words guided me through most of my life. With “listen,” I’m still not all that good at it; with “look,” I often don’t see a lot of things. Chana, my wife, sees ten times more than me, and often I still need to be told what I did not see; and “question,” which, I think, I can do well. I have a scientific background, Toni had a scientific background, so we connected early through that, and while the questioning Toni did related to the internal world, my day-time work connected me to the external world, but there really is no difference. So, her approach appealed to me, because it still was very scientific. However, one thing, she hardly ever talked about, but was full of it, was “Love.” Early on, I wondered “Why isn’t she talking also about love?” Well, I realized soon that she was exuding Love, she didn’t have to talk about it.
Ron Mitchell – I went to see Toni in hospice. At one point she seemed to want to talk. But I could tell she was taking great effort, so I said, “There’s no need to talk.” I brought One Robe, One Bowl with me because she used to read it a lot on the seventh day of retreat. I read some poems in the Autumn section.
[Ron reads poems, the first lines of which begin]:
A cold autumn night. . .
The wind is fresh, the moon bright. . .
While I gather firewood and wild grasses on the hill. . .
When it is evening please come to my hut. . .
I’ve left the world far behind. . .
[Poems from One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan, pgs 67-70. Translated and introduced by John Stevens. John Weatherhill, Inc.]
Later, I asked her fellow visitor if she would like to sing “Amazing Grace” with me. She agreed to sing with me. Before we sang I asked the visitor if we should change the part that says “a wretch like me?” “No, no, leave it in,” she said. [laughter] I guess we all have something to work on.
So after the poetry and after the singing, I just got to sit there with Toni, and after a couple of minutes she started to snore.