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While growing up, I had no idea, even in my wildest dreams, that I would become a medium . . . no idea at all. So how and when did I discover I had the gift of communicating with Spirit?
The best way I can explain is to refer to the Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams, one of my favorites. In the film, Costner plays a farmer named Ray Kinsella. One day while plowing in his cornfield, Ray hears a voice coming from out of nowhere. Thinking the voice is simply a figment of his imagination, he continues working. No sooner does he start again than the voice comes back, louder and clearer this time, and he hears, "If you build it, he will come." At that moment, Ray sees a vision of a baseball diamond in his cornfield. Upon hearing this message and seeing this image of a baseball field, he feels a deep urge to plow up his cornfield to make the vision a reality. You don't have to be a farmer to know that this guy is nuts! But Ray goes along with his gut feeling, and down comes the corn, up goes the baseball field. Building the field did not answer his question about why he felt compelled to do this. In fact, this actually led to more visions and questions.
Throughout the movie, Ray travels on what seems to be a senseless journey, while following his visions and hunches. It is not until the end of the film we see that all his visions essentially connect with one another, forming a whole picture.
Why am I bringing this film up? No, I never wanted to build a baseball field, nor be a corn farmer. But events happened in my life that didn't make a lot of sense to me, either that is, until I was able to see the whole picture. It was at that point I knew, and really came to understand, that my purpose in life would be to help people by connecting them with their loved ones who are on the other side.
One of my first face-to-face encounters with a spirit was with my Uncle Edward, who passed when I was about six years old. He was my mother's brother (one of many) who lived on an old plantation farm in Virginia, along with his siblings. Not long after his passing I was awakened one night by a noise. There in front of me I saw a figure standing next to my window. The image was that of a human, yet it, at first, had no distinct features. The first thought I had was that I must be dreaming, so I started to pinch my arm. I had heard if you were having a bad dream, by pinching yourself, you would awaken from it. I didn't. In fact, the more I pinched myself, the more it hurt. At that point, I knew I was fully awake and actually seeing what was in front of me. That led to only one other conclusion about what was happening. I said to myself, "Oh my God, it's a ghost!" Now, the smart thing for me to do would have been to run and get some help. I was too afraid, so I chose the second best thingyes, to hide under the covers! When you're a kid, it always seems the safest place to be. After what I thought was plenty of time for the ghost to leave, I decided to peek out from under my blanket. What I saw was not a ghost, but my Uncle Edward standing there. He was not a solid person, nor transparent like the ghosts I had seen in cartoons. The best way I can describe him would be as a combination of both. Even though I was frightened, I could see that his face had a kind expression and it helped to calmed me down a bit. I remember thinking to myself: okay, he really is here, and I am actually seeing him. It was a mature reaction for a small boy, but what choice did I have? It seemed that I was going to face this ghost alone! What could or should I do next? I just kept looking at him standing next to my hoppity hop, and it seemed he was not going anywhere. While watching him, a thought came to me. More than a thought, it was a message from Edward. He was letting me know that he was fine and still around, watching over the family. I also recall how much love I felt coming from him while receiving this message from him.
I thought, why me? Why was I seeing him? Was he going to show himself to anyone else?
I pulled those old safety blankets over me once more. This was a lot for me to take in, especially in the middle of the night and all alone. I started thinking to him, please leave, please leave. The next time I looked out, he was gone. Now was my chance to escape! I ran to my parents' bedroom and awakened my mother. I told her that I had just seen Edward, and he said he was still watching over us. The best part of all is that she never doubted me. She lovingly listened to all I had to say, and accepted my story of this visitation. And why not? Coming from a background of belief in an afterlife, it wasn't all that hard to conceive that our loved ones were around and watching over us. I continued to see Uncle Edward every now and then, each time smiling at me, as if he had a secret.
Thinking back on that time, I had no idea that this was only the beginning.
My parents "Snooky" and Florence had six children, five boys and one girl. Kathy and I were the youngest of the bunch. As children, we two were always the closest and still are today. I feel very fortunate to have been raised in a small town in Virginia. Its beauty can only be matched by its rich and deep-rooted history.
Thinking back to my childhood, it seems I was always fascinated with ghosts. I remember the first Colorform set I ever owned was a haunted house. The kit consisted of little scary owls, ghosts, tombstones, and even a full moon, which I could stick all around the haunted house to make a scene. I played with that toy for hours on end.
Also remember "Kooky Spookys"? They were plastic, glow-in-thedark, ghost finger puppets. I would hold them under a light for a few minutes and run into the closet. The eerie green glow would illuminate the dark room as I gave puppet shows for my family and friends. I loved those things!
On Saturday morning, my favorite cartoon was Scooby Doo. I enjoyed the characters' hunts for ghosts and goblins, and always pretended that I too was part of their gang.
One of my favorite films was The Ghost and Mister Chicken, starring Don Knotts. In the film, Don was dared to stay all night in a nearby haunted house. Didn't we all have one of those in our own neighborhood?
Just a block down from where I lived was an old house that had been abandoned for many years. Its paint, what was left of it, was peeling, and its shutters were falling off as well. The large steps leading to the front door had nail holes covered with rust, which we were told were bloody bullet holes from gangsters who had been shot on those very spots!
I would always walk by this house while going to the store or venturing off to play ball, but never had the courage to go in it. One day, on a dare by my friends, I got up enough nerve to go inside. I was about eight years old at the time, and knew I couldn't show how afraid I actually was. Climbing hesitantly through one of the windows on the side of the house, my buddies decided to assist by pushing me all the way in. The front door would most likely have been open, but how much more sneaky it was going in through a window. There was a strange smell to the house, reminiscent of old paint and must. As I walked around on the creaky floor, pushing the cobwebs away from my face, I started sensing a presence there. It was the type of feeling as if someone was watching me, and it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. While continuing to look around, very quickly I may add, I heard a noise coming from the upstairs portion of the house. Klunk, klunk, klunk. That was enough for me! I was not about to stick around and find out who or what it was. I jumped back out of the window, and told my friends who were waiting with anticipation, "Nope . . . . no ghosts in there!"
When you're eight years old, you have to be cool.
I also did the normal "scary" things that all kids do: telling ghost tales by candlelight and playing with a Ouija board. These were all different ways to try to scare one another.
I had once heard you could actually record the voice of a ghost. All you had to do was turn a tape recorder on, set the volume to the highest level, and leave it recording in an unoccupied room. The process seemed simple enough and sounded like fun. Of course, I didn't want to do this by myself, so I convinced my friend Vince to try it with me. First, we had to find a tape recorder. We searched high and low at my house, to no avail, but we were not going to let these voices of the undead get away from us. We scoured Vince's basement until, in the corner, we found our key to the other side. We hurriedly grabbed the tape recorder and made sure that it worked and of course it didn't. After going through drawer after drawer in search of fresh batteries, we finally got the recorder going.
Now, whose house were we going to use to let the "spirits" come through in? Vince said that, since it was his tape recorder, it should be his. I agreed. Also, there was no one else home at the time, and that was the way ghosts were supposed to like it. We set up the tape recorder, turned the volume as high as it would go, and left the room. We knew we couldn't stay alongside the recorder, as we would be making each other laugh too much and no ghost would ever come. After about twenty minutes, we ran back into the room. We turned the recorder off, rewound the tape, pushed the play button, and waited to hear the messages from the other side. We listened very intently, but it seemed all we were hearing was static and we started laughing. After all this preparation we knew this had to work, so we listened longermore static and more laughing. Then it happened! We both heard a voice. "Rewind, quick, rewind!" I shouted. We rewound the tape and there it was again, but what was the voice saying? There certainly was something on the tape; we just couldn't make it out. We almost wore that tape out rewinding it back and forth, until finally the message became clear, and it was only two words: "Spearmint gum!"
Correct, that was the message from a spirit from beyond the grave: Spearmint gum. We both heard it clear as a bell. We didn't have a clue what it meant, but we heard it, and had it on tape. We started laughing again, decided that we'd been successful, and celebrated with a Coke. Later, Kathy and I attempted the same tape experiment with our friend Gina. She said she'd seen a ghost in her house many times, so why not try to record it? Being an old hand at this, and the man of the group, I set up the tape recorder and the rules. No one was to come into the room for at least a half hour. We all had to be together so we could be sure that no one could have tampered with the tape. Finally all was agreed upon and we started recording.
Once finished, as before, we listened for what seemed an eternity, but in actuality was about twenty minutes. We heard nothing but static, static, static. Then, out of nowhere, we heard a voice, a whispery haunting voice. It was soft and wavy, that of a woman. We played it several times and became more excited each time we heard it. The voice said, "Help me." Let me tell you, that was certainly different from "Spearmint gum"! We played it over again and all heard the same thing. Was this spirit really in need of help or was she just playing a trick on us? Who knows?
Years later, Kathy and I were watching a daytime talk show that had a medium on as a guest. She told audience members about their loved ones who had passed, and we were amazed to see how accurate she was. We also wondered how it was possible for someone to have such an ability. We thought perhaps she had planted people in the audience, and this was some type of trick. Kathy decided to make an appointment with her, to see if she was for real. Success came in obtaining a phone session, and finally the day of the reading arrived. We were both excited to see if she would be able to communicate with any of our loved ones. Keep in mind that, with all the aunts and uncles we had on the other side, there should have been plenty of people eager to talk. The medium started by telling us about our grandmother Mary. She described how Mary looked and how she had been watching over us. We had not known Mary, because she had passed before we were born, but Kathy had always sensed that she was around her. The medium also talked about how close Kathy and I were, saying that we were as close as twins and that people sometimes mistook us for such (not physically, however, as I am six-foot-seven and Kathy is five-foot-seven). She also stated that Kathy was looking for a new car, and that she would find one that coming weekend. This was all true enough, as Kathy was looking for a car, and did in fact buy one that weekend. The medium went on and told us different facts about other people in our family. She also mentioned that we both had a gift, and would use it to help people. That was nice to hear, but we were more interested in what we could confirm about our loved ones on the other side.
So the reading was a success, and we realized that certain people do have this type of gift.