Towards the One

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The following is from Debora’s obituary.

Debora (Basira) Goldstein died of pancreatic cancer on September 20, 2019. She was born September 3, 1950 in Chicago, the eldest of three children of Marie (Martz) and Albert Goldstein. The family moved to California when she was a toddler. She grew up in Pomona, CA, playing piano, flute, and oboe, and always “wrecking the curve” at Pomona High School where she was valedictorian of the class of 1968.

Carrying Debora through the forest

After high school, she went to Antioch College in Ohio where early adventures included participating in the anti-war/anti-establishment protests of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago as well as going to Woodstock in 1969. In 1970, she moved to India where she spent a couple years studying yoga and mindfulness. She later returned to the US and lived with a spiritual group in the Imperial Valley, CA, for a number of years. After leaving that group, she married Jose Varela-Ibarra, got a nursing degree, moved to Miami, Florida, and had their son, Karim.

The forest was carpeted with pine needles

Later, she returned to California and worked as a rehab nurse in Santa Barbara, CA, for several years while raising Karim as a single parent. In 1988, she and her son moved to Portland to be near her sister’s family. She lived on Mt. Tabor, where she could often be seen walking with her two dogs, until her recent death. She worked as a rehab nurse at Emanuel Hospital for a few years and then moved to Providence Portland where she spent over 20 years as a nurse mostly in rehab with some stints in intensive care and critical care as well.


Petals decorate the grave


She was a fearless traveler, journeying solo across Asia and Europe when she left India in the 1970s, and driving all the way through Mexico to Guatemala in a VW van with her young son in the 1980’s. More recently, she went to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, Costa Rica, and Haiti, and on a bicycle tour in the Danube River Valley. She enjoyed cooking and eating food from many different cultures, and lived a conscientious and “green” lifestyle, always careful to use her bike or public transportation, whenever possible, to consume few of earth’s resources, and to leave as small a footprint on the earth as she could.

She had long-lasting friendships with many loyal and devoted friends. She was a member of the Sufi spiritual community and regularly participated in Sufi events. She believed in the oneness of all things and the interconnectedness of the universe and practiced acceptance and presence as part of her daily mindfulness and meditation.

Adding wood chips to the grave

In 2014 she retired and since then devoted her time to her spiritual practice and her family, as well as volunteering with hospice and the Oregon Food Bank. She leaves behind the memory of a life lived with intention and care for other people and for the planet.

She is survived by her son, Karim Varela, her stepchildren Tania Varela-Ibarra, Kiko Varela-Ibarra, and Ricky Varela-Ibarra, her sister Alice Goldstein and brother-in-law, Donald Oman, nephews Reed Oman and Dario Oman, and step grandchildren Hiro Dickens and Avery Dickens, not to mention her beloved dog Beethoven (Tovie).

Closing the grave

Walt: Once the wood chips have been added, the grave is capped with dirt to seal it. Then the black air/water tubes are installed at each corner of the grave. These will help a young tree become established by allowing us to “top off” the moisture that will help a new tree make it through the dry months.

Debora’s resting place is complete.

Finally, a topping of more wood chips is added to cut down on evaporation.

In the spring, the next step will be to plant a tree in Debora’s memory.

  1. Jessica M England

    Oh wow, this was a very interesting & touching story about Debora, she was very well traveled, she evidently had a full life & it sounds like she is now exactly where she would really want to be, so rest in peace Debora, i will be there as well before too long, i know that this will be exactly where i want to be laid to rest, there is no better choice.

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