In 1972 Leon MacLaren appointed a personal assistant Dorine van Oyen (Tolley). The appointment of someone to assist him was well overdue. Until then he had struggled alone trying to cope with the workload of running the School which was growing fast into a world wide organization. He was basically cooped up in one room during the day writing material, seeing students, and giving lectures in the evening. At the same time he was suffering from ill health and had occasional epileptic attacks, which would come unexpectedly. He could not drive a car which further confined him.
His assistant, Dorine, was born in Amsterdam. Her parents had been pupils of Ouspensky and subsequently became the leaders of the School in Amsterdam. Leon MacLaren had known her since the age of thirteen and had seen her grow up. Now at 24 she was ready for the job and she changed his life.
Within three years she had found a way to cope with the epilepsy, so that the seizures stopped and never returned. She performed as many roles as there were tasks, attending to his personal needs, writing letters, receiving visitors, driving him, accompanying him on his annual trips to the schools around the world. They studied together opening up and penetrating the Teaching. She played the piano with him, helped him with composing and learned to play the harp especially for his compositions. She was his confidant for the remainder of his life and rarely left his side 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the 22 years she was with him until his death. Her only time off was when he went to see his Teacher in India once in two years.
A year after she had joined Leon MacLaren, His Holiness Shantanand Saraswati gave the following apt description of her situation which Leon MacLaren delighted in quoting with a chuckle:
“The same applies to a servant and a personal attendant. The servant comes to attend for a few hours and then goes back home. If he does not get a rise, he strikes and sometimes leaves the job while the personal attendant stays for twenty four hours with his master, looks into the affairs and needs of the master, and is always available, like a disciple.”
When asked why she had taken on such a hard job which she knew would prevent her from leading an ordinary life, she said:
“I suppose I had complete faith in him, having known him from an early age, and I had compassion for him seeing the strain he was under. But above all I was convinced that he was doing an important work for humanity and that there was no one to replace him. So I decided that if I could lighten his load a little, it was the least I could do to pay him back.”
It is therefore not surprising that, other than for a small bequest to his daughter, Leon MacLaren left everything to her in his Will.