A Dream Come True: Meeting the Dalai Lama

By Jami Brinton, Reporter

Thomas Langer of Iowa City (center) poses with his uncle, Dr. David Keisler of Aiken, S.C. (right), and the Dalai Lama on Tuesday, May 21, 2010, at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Eastern Iowa. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Langer)

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By Becky Ogann

IOWA CITY – Annie Mae Cronbaugh, 63, of Marengo always wanted to meet the Dalai Lama.

“She'd been a huge fan and a follower of his for many years,” said her son Thomas Langer, 39, of Iowa City.

When Cronbaugh learned that the spiritual Tibetan leader would be coming to Iowa earlier this week, she asked her son to get her tickets to the event. Langer did.

"She was elated as she calls it she does her happy dance,” said Langer. “She was really looking forward to it. It was going to be the event of her lifetime.”

Langer attempted to set up a personal meeting for his mom with His Holiness. But she would never meet him. Annie Cronbaugh died two months ago from lung disease. After her passing, Langer emailed the Dalai Lama's office in New York to cancel his meeting request.

"They contacted me that very next day and said that His Holiness was very saddened at my mother's passing and that he'd very much like to meet me when he was in Cedar Falls,” said Langer.

So Tuesday morning, Langer, and his uncle Dr. David Keisler, 61, of Aiken, South Carolina, met the Dalai Lama.

“He kind of came towards me and offered a blessing and spoke to me for about a minute or two,” said Langer. “He said he was very sorry that my mother had passed...He put a prayer scarf around my neck and gave me a blessing and he moved on to his way.”

Langer describes his meeting His Holiness as "very special." He knew his mother was pleased.

"She was definitely smiling down on me,” said Langer.

It's a moment Langer will always remember.

"What an amazingly powerful man full of compassion and kindness and I got to meet him,” he said.

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