Pondering the Pavement

October 1, 2017

Giving Notice

“What we’ve got here is… failure to communicate.”
Strother Martin (The Captain in Cool Hand Luke)

 

34006400_sI STARED AT MY PHONE with the same look of disgust one has whenever they discover Great Aunt Belva’s bursitis has cleared up and she’d be attending Thanksgiving dinner after all. The warm glow of the screen was a direct contradiction to the coldness contained within the incoming text message. I grimaced and shook my head. “Well, shit,” was the best my college educated brain could muster. Southwest decided to cancel our outgoing flight to San Francisco. It wasn’t delayed. Oh, no. It was cancelled, killed off like an un-credited red shirt crew member on Star Trek. A tad over-dramatic, sure, but I tend to take cancellations personally.

For example, my family, with my 6 year old self in tow, were vacationing once upon a time. I honestly don’t remember where. I want to say Hershey, Pennsylvania, but I’m not sure if I’m right or my obsessive love of chocolate is in need of some self-serving attention. I may not recall the exact locale of this summer spree so long ago, but I DO recall it was quite popular. I know this because we drove from Motel to Motel to get a room with no success. Every place was booked. Just like in biblical times, there was no room at the Holiday Inn. I was devastated by this. I began crying uncontrollably (some of you have seen this same reaction when I’m told Pumpkin Cheesecake is out of season). “Nobody wants us!” I screamed. My mother & grandparents found my emotional state very amusing. They laughed and laughed at the time. They continued to hoot & cackle uproariously as this tale was retold over and over again through the years. I’d like to take a moment and point out they’re all dead. Hey! Who’s laughin’ NOW?

But I digress.

I clicked the link Southwest provided in order to better handle this situation. Of course, the link and my phone didn’t get along so that didn’t help. Technology is the Joker to My Batman, the Bluto to my Popeye, the Mrs. Wiggins to my Mr. Tudball. I was able to connect to their website and search for flights that would, unlike the unloving motel, want us aboard. There was one just after 9am but we’d have to go via Las Vegas on a 3 hour jaunt. And we ALL know how well 3 hour tours work out. The next, leaving at 9:20, was a direct flight, just as the first had been. Noting this as completely doable, I sent a text to my travel companion. I simply lamented, “Our flight has been CANCELLED!”

She promptly replied, “Yep, me too. Wanna take the 9:20?” Great minds, blah blah blah. “I’m on my way to the airport now,” she added.

I ran to the desk—OK, ‘ran’ isn’t exactly the verb for the situation. Anyone who knows me understands I only run when there is a sale on Hawaiian shirts or whenever I’m strolling downhill and gravity just takes over. Let’s just say I enthusiastically meandered to the ticket counter with great determination. I managed to change my ticket. However, I no longer had my precious “A” Boarding Pass. I was now a lowly “C”. Which meant I would not, by any stretch of the imagination, get my beloved window seat. SIGH. A big guy in a middle or aisle seat is just pushing against the laws of nature. Doesn’t your heart just ache for me? Or, at least, your lower lumbar?

I made my way back to where I had been sitting only to find someone, who does NOT make me the center of their Universe, had taken my seat. Well, La-Tee-Dah. After scanning the terminal, I realized there were no seats welcoming me and my mass (NOT a typo), so I plopped down on the floor, using the wall barrier of an overpriced airport eatery as a back support. In my mind’s eye, I resembled a fat cat having a sudden nap attack. No big whoop. I had things to do. I can sit pretty much anywhere. I pulled out my ever-present notepad (yes, I’m THAT old school) and glanced at the chicken-scratch scrawl splattered throughout a few pages. Website, Facebook, Twitter, several names (some decorated with asterisks) and numbers. I was convinced this list was missing something but I had no clue what it was. “Well, shit,” I muttered once more. Reminiscing of my old Alama Mater warms the cockles of my heart. Even at 7am.

We were heading off to San Francisco to attend a wedding of a friend of mine. Well, a friend AND client. I have read him, and the bulk of his inner-circle, for the better part of a decade. I’ve read him, his mom and step-dad, his sisters, college roommates, co-workers and virtually every woman he has ever dated. His fiancé has even sent clientele my way. Cousins, friends, random people at the supermarket, you name it. Since he’d finally found THE one (and since SHE has brought me work, too) I felt compelled to attend. Truth be told, my main reason for going was a chance to go to SF. We both adore it and grab any opportunity to spend time there. I’m not sure I would have attended if the wedding had taken place around the corner from my residence seeing as I am a bit of an antisocial sort. God, I hope Stu and Jess aren’t reading this…

LOVE YOU GUYS! WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED IT! (Good cover, Charles. Well played.)

You see, I was also using this trip as a way to relax after a pretty stressful few months. I had recently made a pretty big decision—one of great impact on not only myself but a few others, too. When I make these life altering choices, such as switching from Coke to RC, I tend to run away for awhile just to chill, to be at peace with the decision, and to wrap up anything I may have inadvertently overlooked. This wedding seemed like the ideal getaway. It gave me a chance to witness the beginning of something wonderful as I acknowledged the end of something else that, honestly, just wasn’t wonderful any more. At least not to me. After a surprisingly small amount of soul searching, I had made the decision to walk away from mediumship once and for all.

Truth be told, one cannot really quit being a medium. They’re still there tapping on your shoulder, poking your third eye. I was just finished with the two-way conversations. I’ve always said that once the ride stopped being fun then I was getting off of it. And I hadn’t had fun in quite some time. I’ve toyed with putting it on a back, cold burner in the past but never really brought myself to turn in my two week notice. Sometimes disgruntled frustration will rear it’s uckin’ fugly head and, honestly, that’s normal. It is a draining way to earn a living and, at times, it’s just overwhelming. But this instance was different. Something vital was truly missing.

The drive. The desire. The mindset. The… PASSION. They were all gone, absent from the roster.

* * *

In hindsight, major shifts usually come with a few warning signs. Collectively, we tend to miss them for the most part. Or, at best, we just refuse to add two & two. God knows numbers have never been my strong point. My idea of balancing my check book is to toss it to a trained seal and hope for the best. My “sign” was more like a pile of freeway markers hurled into one large pile of twisted metal highlighted with flickering glimpses of school bus yellow and interstate green. I found myself in a dilemma that I knew was coming but, God knows, I fought it off with great determination, devotion and denial.

My mother’s failing health hit a record low last December and I, as her one and only child, had to move back east to care for her. Five out of the following six months were spent chained to her hip in a town that holds nothing for me. I left when I was a young upstart of twenty assuming I knew everything. In all honestly, I knew only one thing: I wanted out of there. I could honestly feel parts of me dwindle away into nothingness whenever I would make my obligatory visits. Each and every time. It came to a point that I would get physically ill knowing I had to return. My only salvation was knowing the exact date and time I would get the hell out. I didn’t have that luxury this go around. I was stuck with an open-ended ticket. I felt like I was on standby for a seat on a crop-duster.

Life as I knew it completely changed within a few daze (again, NOT a typo). Work on all levels came to a crashing halt. No cartooning, no mediumship which translated into no income. 25 hours of my 24 hour day were, like my flight, cancelled and rerouted. My daily routine, as well as my scattered social circles, were obliterated. I plummeted into the ground like a railroad spike. I honestly do not recall the last time I was SO drilled into the physical. My root chakra was so overworked it joined a Union in order to demand time-and-a-half.

Mom was a demanding woman. Always had been. She was insanely OCD. Every household chore had to follow a VERY specific formula. Her process of doing laundry had more steps than an instructional manual for the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. I would explain it to you but, honestly, you’d either end up crying or you’d black out from the sheer inability to comprehend it. I grew up with her so I was used to some of it. But you never EVER fully understand it. I’m willing to wager that it would leave Stephen Hawking with a blank stare followed by an electronic WTF. It got worse as she got older. And it got worse still when she became too ill to follow her own guidelines. If her bizarre rules were not followed verbatim, if a single item was moved from one end of a table to another, she erupted, spewing molten insults over the villagers below. She continued to bark out orders from her hospital bed throne, gripping her cane like a scepter, until the last 52 hours of her life. Then she just went to sleep.

While my entire life was being turned upside down as well as inside out, I sadly managed to forget something vital. My mother’s life was not only being uprooted like a tree in the path of a tornado, but it was also coming to an end… and she was scared.

During this five month mini-series, I continually turned down requests for readings. I was not in a frame of mind to tune a radio let alone tune into Spirit. They could have been standing around me with megaphones and I wasn’t in a state to hear them. The only Spirit Connection I had during that time was with my (late) grandmother. She kept making her presence known throughout my time served. She was opening doors, walking around the house at night, even coming to her daughter from time to time. I’ve been used to her hanging out in the house since she died when I was twelve, so this was nothing new to me. A door would pop open and I’d just wave. “Hey, Mamaw!” I’d exclaim without batting an eye.

Mom was questioning her own sanity whenever she would see her mother up and around the house. Frankly, I questioned her sanity when she first explained her laundry ritual to me, but that’s beside the point. (For the love of all that is Holy… she folded clothes before putting them in the dryer!) I explained that her mother’s baby girl was sick so, like any good parent, her mother was watching over her. While Mom did believe in my work as a medium, she never wanted anyone to know about it. She would be “SO embarrassed” if her friends found out. I made a point to mention it in her eulogy. Just sayin’.

Once she passed I had a realization: I hadn’t done a reading in nearly half a year and I did not miss it one iota. I was actually relieved that I wasn’t facing any readings. I was so immersed in the turmoil of the living chaos that the dead fell far beyond the wayside. It’s as if they slipped down between the front car seat and the gear console. You know it’s down there, wedged in with some stale french fries and a dime or two, but you just can’t reach it comfortably so to hell with it. Am I right (insert eye-roll here)? I told a friend and fellow medium of my sudden awareness on the matter. I added, “The only thing I DO miss is the income. If that’s all I miss then I shouldn’t be doing it.” Empty beer mug slammed on the table. I knew I was done.

In the immortal words of Sgt. Schulz, “I know NOTHING!”

KnowNothing

* * *

Kelsey arrived, with her long hair taking on a life of its own after wrestling with the wind and fury of running up an escalator. I instinctively grabbed her backpack as she headed toward the ticket counter. She, too, lost her “A” and had to trade it in for a “C”. She muttered, “Well, shit,” as she approached me and her backpack. Clearly we went to the same college. Her green eyes locked with my mood ring blues. “You know this means we won’t be there in time to have breakfast at Boudin.”

I just nodded. “Something inside of me just died.” I swear I could feel my eyes welling up.

We are creatures of habit, Kelsey and I. Traveling schedules are generally very well planned in painstaking detail. It is all laid out flawlessly in a heap of electronic paperwork. But when one of those strips of cyber paper gets yanked out as if in a game of Jenga, we tend to slightly topple over with little to no grace. Much to our combined chagrin, our second choice flight was delayed by he better part of an hour. Less time in SF is never acceptable to a couple of control freaks. We grieved the loss of our favorite breakfast. We mourned as our anally designed itinerary was methodically thrust in a wood chipper. The airline placed the blame for the delay on fog. We placed the blame on some yet unmasked super villain hell-bent on using our joy as a chew toy.

“We’re gonna be in the very back row,” I said matter-of-factly.

She just nodded. “Well, shit.” We really need to get matching school jerseys.

Well, my amazing psychic powers were not in force that day. We found ourselves wedged into the next to the last row. Yup. Good thing I’m getting outta this biz. Ahem. We spent the bulk of our barely 60 minute flight reshuffling as our TO-DO list became a TO-GO menu. Striking things off (so long Boudin and The Cartoon Museum), rearranging and reprioritizing others (Our Chinatown lunch knocked down from ‘Goal’ to ‘Sacrificial Lamb with Egg Roll’). Our New & Improved Plan 3.1 began with heading straight to the hotel to drop off our bags. Seems simple, right? It’s never simple, my friends. If I teach you anything let it be that simple twist of truth. We arrived in the lobby of the King George Hotel with equal amounts of dogged determination and debilitating defeat. We were yinging and yanging all over the friggin’ place. At first we were quite thrilled to see that there was only one person ahead of us at the front desk. Finally! Things were going to go smoothly! That sheet of hope was crumpled and chucked after 20 eternal minutes. Our fellow traveler before us was just not happy with ANYTHING. Add a malfunctioning computer into the equation and the only possible total is a negative number. Kelsey and I exchanged more glances than ugly Christmas sweaters at a Mid-Western K-Mart during any given holiday season. Absolutely NOTHING was going according to plan.

Well, OUR plan anyway. It seemed that another driving force had everything already laid out. And, as usual, I was the very last to know.

* * *

Once we left our bags with a most apologetic concierge, we ventured into the Streets of San Francisco. I feel compelled to make a Karl Malden reference at this point but I’m doing my best to be mature and hold back. Aren’t you proud? One item from Kelsey’s list managed to still cling to life. She is quite enamored with her Scottish ancestry (while my dad was more bewitched by Scotch in a bottle). Within spitting distance of the hotel—don’t ask how we know this to be an accurate measurement—is a store devoted to all things Scottish. I must confess I was quite crushed to never hear any of the employees shout, “If it’s not Scottish, it’s CRAP!” I contemplated bribing one of them to say it but opted against it. Once again, maturity won out. I’m not sure if I’m impressed with myself or just creeped out.

We meandered a bit (translation: we were searching for food because our journeys are always about The Food). After stuffing our collective faces at a Chinese Restaurant boasting of New Management, we happened upon a Museum dedicated to the Deity known as Dr. Seuss. Well, needless to say, this cartoonist was elated beyond doodles and words. My love of cartooning as well as reading was greatly influenced by Theodore Geisel. Hop On Pop was the very first book I even checked out of a library. I’m not sure why something that seemingly trivial has always stuck with me. Passions tend to do that, don’t they? Revisiting a lifelong passion is always amazingly fulfilling. Reconnections like that remind us what life is all about, ya know?

Well, if I didn’t then, I sure as shit know now… but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.

AngelHatAs our souls returned to the sidewalks, we found ourselves stumbling upon an impression of an Angel in the sidewalk. It was intentionally placed there. This was not a freak image like Elvis on a scorched waffle. The simple silhouette depicted an angelic figure holding something in its hand. A candle? A stick? A flashlight? A souvenir of the Washington Monument? I assumed it was a candle—fitting for an Angel—but the Washington Monument image was WAY funnier. I tossed my cap on the ground next to it and snapped the image you see before you. I turned around after retrieving my hat and my eye caught a glimpse of an awning jutting out from the building before us. I did a slight double-take as I read the lettering on the awning: Raphael House. “Cute,” I thought to myself. “An Angel reference.” I shrugged it off.

Kelsey suddenly said, “Raphael House?” She paused. “I guess that’s the Angel.”

“Oh, yea, drive it home Guys,” I thought to myself. Then I said aloud, “Yup. Mystery solved!” And we went on our merry way. With a few more blocks behind us, we wound up standing beneath a breathtaking mural encasing the side of an 8-story building. It was an illustration of a tiger, dissected, as it’s skeletal structure was separating from its exterior form. It was unusual, but very powerful. It was as if the inner being—the core strength—had a life force of its own. It needed to get out and make itself known. We both stood there, in the middle of the sidewalk, just gawking at it like a couple of tourists who had never seen anything taller than a two-story barn in their lives.

Kelsey brought me back to the present, as is her custom, by crying out, “Hey! Look over there!” I turned from the sprawling tiger, my gaze following her pointing finger. Across the street, on the corner, was a small store. A sign simply read, “Irish Castle Shop.” Before I could say anything, she said, “Let’s check it out!”

TigerMural“I thought you were Scottish, not Irish,” I pointlessly pointed out.

“I like to see how the less fortunate live!” she laughed as she dashed across the street. Great. Dashing. Thank God it was a ever-so-subtle downhill grade. As we entered, she said, “We’ll just look around for a few minutes.” I reminded her of that when we emerged 2 ½ hours later.

A dark-haired woman raised her head from behind a glass display case and welcomed us to the store. Her Irish brogue was quite apparent, as was the genuine warmth behind her smile. “I’m Gráinne,” she said. “Looking for anything in particular?” My response was simply thrusting a thumb in Kelsey’s direction.

“No,” Kelsey said. “We’re just looking!” Then she let out a squeal and practically ran to a display case containing some very ornate Champagne Flutes. Being well-versed in shopping with Kelsey, I knew just what to do: I found the nearest seat and made it my home away from home. Our hostess, sensing a sale, scurried to Kelsey with the keys toHappyBirthdayGift the display case being steamed up by Kelsey’s breath. I just laughed to myself, as is my custom in most situations, and leaned back on my newfound stool. This repose was short-lived. My eyes fell upon a wrapped gift on the counter before me. Attached to it was a card. Scrawled on the envelope were these simple, heartfelt words: “To Charlie. Happy Birthday!” I just shook my head as I muttered THE dumbest words in the Universe: “What a coincidence!”

Flippin’ idiot.

As the gals chatted and chattered on about All Things Irish, I just scanned the wall before me. It’s sort of like going through someone’s medicine cabinet but without leaving fingerprints. On the very top shelf I spotted a framed photo of a man. Next to the photograph was a simple sign reading, “Rest In Peace Gabriel. You Will Be Missed.”

Gabriel? Oh, come on, SERIOUSLY? As if my personal connection to the name wasn’t enough, it has to be two of the four Arch Angels that I call in whenever I prepare for a reading? They were bullying me around one last time. My Guides were politely (yea, right) poking me, antagonizing me just once more. “Don’t waste your time,” I thought to myself. My mind was made up… and so was theirs, obviously. I assumed Gabriel had been an employee or perhaps a loyal customer. I offered a soft blessing to him and those left behind and that was that. Uh-huh. Sure it was.

At this point, Kelsey and Gráinne returned to the counter in front of me. Gráinne carried the flutes with tenderness while Kelsey clutched her credit card with a grip guaranteed to obliterate circulation. Gráinne pointed at me and said, “You’re a very patient man! That’s a beautiful trait!”

I just said, “This isn’t my first rodeo with her shopping.” We laughed. Hardeeharhar.

Then she said, “You remind me of my son, Michael.”

Michael, too? Three outta four. Jeez, just drop it, Guys…

“He’s a good son, my boy,” she continued. “I’m sure you are, too.”

“On the advice of my attorney I refuse to comment,” I said.

“I’ve had to rely on him quite a bit since my husband died,” she said as she carefully wrapped the flutes in tissue paper. She looked up and gestured at the framed photo atop the bookcase. “I do miss my Gabriel, so.” She paused for a moment, a subtle smile easing across her lips. Then she said, “But I know he’s still here with me.”

GabrielPhotoWithout missing a beat, I quipped, “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

She added, “We really don’t die, you know?”

Kelsey shot me a cursory glance which I opted to semi-ignore. “I agree,” was all I could muster.

Gráinne finished with her wrapping. She looked up at me, gesturing to her head, and said, “What is a ‘Ghost Host’?”

I removed my well-worn cap and turned it around so she could see the logo for The Haunted Mansion embroidered on the back. “It’s from Disneyland. One of my favorite rides.”

“Oh!” she half-laughed. “I thought maybe you were REALLY a ‘Ghost Host’!”

I thought, “Oh, what the hell?” So I said very matter-of-factly, “Technically, I am. I’m a Medium.”

Her eyes widened, her jaw slacked a tinge, as she put her chubby hands on her hips. “Are you, now?”

Before I could even inhale, Kelsey’s head began bobbing up and down as if her neck muscles had snapped lose. “Oh, yea, he IS!” She really emphasized the present tense. Clever girl.

Gráinne leaned on the counter. Her voice softened, the gregariousness was gone. She asked the question I have heard, in all probability, the most during my career: “Is Gabriel OK?”

I smiled. “Of course he is. There’s no pain of any kind. He is surrounded by, and always emits, pure unconditional love.” Her eyes began to well up so I added, “For what it’s worth, I’ve never had anyone come through and say, ‘Man, this just sucks!’”

She let out a genuine laugh which erased her tension almost immediately. “It’s funny you worded it that way. About his giving off unconditional love…” She wiped away a bit of a tear but her smile was steadfast. “That describes my Gabriel perfectly.” She tilted her head a bit. “Is he here now?”

“I’m sure he is. I’m not really tuned in at the moment. But I’m sure he’s watching over you.” Sort of the canned mediumship answer. But that certainly doesn’t make it any less true. I honestly believe our deceased loved ones are just within a law or two of being branded stalkers.

Our brief chat seemed to ease her and, I admit, that made me happy. As she began to find a bag large enough to cradle the crystal glasses, I made my way to the restroom. Good exit strategy on my part. Or so I thought. As I was washing my hands I put it out to that Wacky Universe of Ours that if Gabriel had any messages for his wife then I would be happy to help. You know, sort of my Swan Song. Oh, Sweet Tea Jesus… when will I learn? I was immediately hit by this intensely insistent presence. Be careful of what you ask for… Clearly, the lesson of The Monkey’s Paw had eluded me.

When I returned, I found the Irish Lass and the Irish Lass Wannabe, looking over some children’s books in yet another display case. My stool still stood alone, I’m sure dreading the return of my mass (not a typo). I plopped back down only to find my attention drawn to a rack of custom made greeting cards to my left. One card in particular bore the image of what looked like a policeman’s badge. I could not, no matter how much I tried, tear my gaze from it. I just gave in and allowed it to happen…

“Was Gabriel a Police Officer? Or was his role that of being a Peace Keeper?”

The Lassies looked up in unison. “Peace Keeper,” Gráinne said.

My eyes were still locked on the card. “He has a strong sense of justice, what is right.”

“Oh, yes,” she replied. She slowly straightened up and made her way around to my side of the room.

“The numbers two and five are both significant for him.”

“He was known as Two Feather to everyone,” she said in a chocked voice. “And he died on January 5th.” She moved behind the counter and stood beneath her beloved’s picture. Gabriel was both literally and figuratively watching over her.

“I don’t understand this,” I said. “And I’m not supposed to… but he takes partial responsibility for his passing. He says, though, that he didn’t TAKE his own life. But he admits to it being a case of circumstance, being in the wrong place at the wrong time… but his death makes sense in a strange way…” I scratched my head. “I don’t get that at all.”

His wife, however, completely understood. You see, Gabriel the Peace Keeper, had been murdered—stabbed—as he stepped forward to protect another person. That revelation silenced the showroom. We gazed at one another in silence for a moment. “He was always taking care of everyone else,” she whispered. He would see a woman sitting alone at a bus stop at night and he’d just sit with her, just to make sure she was safe.”

I sighed, “He tells me that while he was a large man it is YOU who fills the room, with your personality, your love of life…”

She smiled and nodded, “He could intimidate people just because of his size.” She raised her arms as if to mimic his form. Then she jutted a thumb at herself, “But I ran the roost!” Then she just laughed. She dropped her head for a moment. Then she looked up at me, with her smiling Irish eyes. “He’s my heart,” is all she said but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a more powerful statement. “Is he really OK?”

I smiled. “Yes, he is. And he credits your love for him—WITH him—for that. You keep saying he saved you but it is you who saved him.”

She began to cry uncontrollably as she leaned onto the countertop. Instinctively, I placed both of my hands over her right hand and Kelsey, who looked like a raccoon at this point, held onto Gráinne’s left. “I miss him so!” Gráinne cried. “I want him back! I want him home!”

I squeezed her hand tightly, holding back my own tears, and said, “Honey, he IS home.”

She stopped crying almost immediately. She gently bit her lower lip. “I have a friend who does what you do,” she quietly admitted. “And she told me the exact same thing.” I could sense Gabriel’s strong hands on her shoulders as she began to smile—truly smile—once more. “He really is alright.” It wasn’t a question this time. It was a statement of incontestable fact. “Thank you,” she quietly whispered.

“My pleasure, my honor,” I replied.

As we prepared to leave, Gráinne gave us both a massive bear hug. “I was blessed to have both of you walk in here today,” she said. “Thank you. Thank you both! I just know Gabriel sent you to me!”

“After encountering him,” I said, “I don’t doubt you a single bit! That man could move mountains!”

“Because he was one!” she laughed.

We bid our goodbyes as Kelsey retrieved all three of her packages. As we stepped out into the street I instinctively reached for one of her bags. “Let me take that,” I said.

Her grip tightened as she shook her head. “I need to hold onto something,” she said as mascara trails decorated her cheeks. “That was…just…wow.”

I nodded as we walked in silence for a couple blocks. Then I said, “None of this would have happened if our flight hadn’t been cancelled.”

“I was thinking the same thing.” There wasn’t a shred of doubt in her voice.

“I’d forgotten,” I said to no one in particular. It’s a good thing Kelsey was with me or it would have seemed like I was one of those people who walk the streets talking to themselves.

“Forgotten what?”

“I’d forgotten WHY I do this. God forgive me, but I really forgot.” I took off my cap, ran my fingers through my already tousled hair, then slipped it back on. A nervous reaction equivalent to digging a hole and filling it back up. “I was so caught up in all of my crap, and Mom’s, that I’d forgotten. I never thought that would happen.” We continued to walk. I just shook my head, “I can’t quit, can I?” I’m not sure if I was asking Kelsey, myself or The Universe. It doesn’t really matter since Kelsey was the one who answered first.

“No,” she said. “No, you can’t. It wouldn’t be fair.”

I stopped and looked at her with a puzzled look on my face. My facial expression was very similar to the one I give when I’m told, “There’s no more whipped cream!”

“It wouldn’t be fair to Gráinne or Gabriel or anyone, I guess,” she said.

I gave her a quick hug and said the only thing I could say, “Well, shit.” We began walking back to our hotel, assuming everything was finally going to get back to normal. I’d like to point out that ‘normalcy’ is something I instinctively evade, much in the same way I steer a wide clearance of salad at an All You Can Eat Buffet. To better understand this epic saga, you need to keep in mind that this was only the first day of our journey. Hell, the sun hadn’t even set! yet! There were two more days ahead. As The Carpenter’s remind us, “We’ve only just begun…”

IMG_1307

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

Copyright © 2017, Charles A. Filius

 

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June 30, 2017

April’s Ours, Her Words Empower

“April is a promise that May is bound to keep.” – Hal Borland

While mediumship is a large part of my life (oh, THAT’S funny!), it isn’t really my favorite avenue of spiritual work. Don’t get me wrong—it certainly has a high ranking. It is undoubtedly powerfully healing for ALL parties involved. It’s significance is undeniable. It’s not for everyone, of course. You either get it or you miss it completely. Mediumship does not have a single gray area let alone fifty. Ahem.

My true spiritual fascination is channeling. It lures me in like an All You Can Stuff In Yo’ Face Buffet. I love doing Automatic Writing. I even enjoy teaching it—and we ALL know how I feel about THAT! The unparalleled insight that flows from the pen captivates me. It’s very hard to stop once I start… just like the buffet.

I find direct voice channeling to be the ultimate voyage. I am very fortunate to have a strong, fluid connection with my own Guides. They have my blessing to drop kick my endearing obstinance to the curb and smoothly slip into the driver’s seat. Like mediumship, channeling is certainly not for everyone. But, then again, neither am I. This is probably the foremost explanation as to why I am so comfortable with allowing it to occur.

Every now and again I am fortunate enough to have a student whose passion for channeling rivals my own. An inquisitive nature always wins out over hesitation.

“Sometimes the best answer is ‘Why the hell not?’” – Unknown

One such individual is April Torres. I first met her when she came to me for a reading at the LBWS Fair in Long Beach, CA, a few years back. She later took my Automatic Writing Class and, despite any good judgment she may have had at one time, she opted to join my weekly Development Circle. I can only assume there were no responsible adults in her life at that time to warn her of this silly choice. The class unanimously felt, after her first gathering with us, she was definitely more than just one of us. She was OURS. She fit flawlessly like bacon on, well, anything. April possesses a natural light that draws Spirit in like tourists to a souvenir stand in the Poconos. Her style of channeling, whether in writing or speaking, naturally flows with ease & grace, peace & humility, warmth & frank familiarity. It is truly a joy to experience.

April is an absolute natural at doing something that IS natural. Most, sadly, just don’t believe it really is within us on some level. That’s why it’s up to those of us who know better to share our knowledge and ‘Their’ truth. Someone’s always bound to listen. April slips unassumingly into channel, with no visual effort. Her already gentle voice gets even more soothing as her demeanor takes on a knowledgeable composure. Her eyes close as one hand raises, gesturing gently, as if adding visual punctuation to the profound statements emitting from within. I honestly do not know which intrigues me more: the audible words or their visual counterpart.

In our weekly development circle, a visit from April’s Spirit Guide, Ivan, is always an enlightened highlight. Ivan’s manner of speaking seems more conversational than anything else. It has an easy, oh-by-the-way manner to it. But, before you know it, you realize you’re being given teachings & insight that will truly stay with (and within) you.

“The one human frailty is lack of courage. When that is changed—permanently within each person—there is no unlearning what has been learned. This is a way to navigate forward. Confidence is built over time. The encouragement of your fellow beings may be the one greatest contribution that you will make in this life. Sometimes the distillation of the events will show a person this essence of what they came to correct. Not everybody will be interested, willing or able to hear in THIS lifetime what will move them forward. Have no expectations of being always able to change the course of someone’s life. That is THEIRS to change! You are merely a vehicle, you are merely a conduit—a medium so-to-speak—and this is enough.” – Ivan

Yup. There’s no doubt about it. April is a natural. She also lays claim to another astonishing gift: art. She wielded her brushes at Disney for 18 years where she was bestowed with the title of The Head Princess Artist. However, she is not one to speak of her accomplishments. She is pretty closed lipped on things like that. She’s far more interested in listening to others. She’s also intrigued by what she can possibly absorb from the experience. She is, from my perspective, an observer. She doesn’t even get too outwardly excited when it comes to Ivan’s powerful phrasings. She just quietly smiles and says, “Yea, Ivan shows me some pretty cool things.” She just leaves it at that. Whether with the strokes of brushes, or the flair of words, she is a natural artist of the eyes and the soul.

The only unnatural aspect about her is her affliction with lung cancer. An affliction that April fought with graceful tenacity. Her uncooperative health does, from time to time, prevent her from attending our weekly class. I often remind her that she could just mail me my weekly $20 fee if it gives her a sense of normalcy. She just laughs and laughs. She thinks I was kidding. How precious is THAT? When she’s not with us we include a group healing in our curriculum. Upon her return, we always inquire how she is feeling. As is her manner, she flashes her gentle smile and simply says, “I’m doing good. It’s all good.”

AprilTorres01On the 29th of her namesake month, it was no longer ‘good’. April walked away from her brave battle, stepping into the next stage of never-ending life. She’s still pursuing her passions in a place of perfection. She is experiencing first hand all she has relayed to so many for so long. The words that leap out at my heart in that sentence are, of course, ‘so long.’ It’s always hard to bid a friend farewell…even when you know you’ll see one another, in some form, again.

At the risk of sounding like a well-ironed cliché, I have to admit that I found myself learning a lot from April. Even more, I’m afraid, than I taught her. Oops. I gotta be careful…she may one day come through to me demanding HER twenty bucks!

This work has proven to me, time and time again, that we do not end. We keep going on and on and on some more. In my soul I know April is just fine. She is whole. She is happy. She is breathing life & love into those remaining here. She has also once again embraced those who trod the path of stars before her own trek home. And she finally got to meet Ivan, soul-to-soul, heart-to-heart, being-to-being. I honestly haven’t a clue whether April or Ivan would have been the most excited about that reunion. I have to admit I am the weensiest bit envious. Not because I want to “return to Spirit”—I like the cheesecake here WAY too much! But I would have loved to have witnessed it. I hope it’s made available on Netflix soon. Until the day when it comes up in my queue, I guess I will just have to speculate how it all went down…

After a long overdue hug, I envision April waving Ivan to a seat. She then places a clean celestial canvas on the easel before her. With a palate of unfathomable colors in one hand and a brush expertly cradled in the other, she flashes Ivan her gentle smile. And, with a self-assured twinkle in her eye, April’s brush dashes across the canvas, scattering a trail of stars as bright and infinite as her soul. “Now, Ivan,” she says softly, “I’d like to show YOU something…”

“Wandering through a wasteland of old souls who are in need of assistance seems overwhelming at times but fortitude of humor is the vehicle for this necessary journey and is perfectly in line with the assignment.” – Ivan

(This is a validating personal message I was blessed to receive from Ivan, through April, in 2015)

*  *  *

The “April Ann Torres Fine Arts Fund” has been established in her memory. Donations may be made to: “The Foundation for Los Angeles Community Colleges” in the name of the April Ann Torres Fine Arts Fund. Please mail checks to:

Foundation for Los Angeles Community Colleges
ATTN: April Ann Torres Fine Arts Fund
9th floor
770 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles 90017

You can also donate online by clicking here:
https://www.giveffect.com/campaigns/4290-april-ann-torres-fine-arts-fund?ref=1&uid=67509

 

 

December 1, 2016

The Magnitude of Gratitude

“Thanksgiving is an emotional time.
People travel thousands of miles to be with people they see only once a year.
And then discover once a year is way too often.”
— Johnny Carson

49339309 - thank you comic bubble retro text pop art styleThis Thanksgiving didn’t stand out over any other—at least on the surface. I spent it by myself, which is ALWAYS my preference. Yes, I am a loner, as most of you know. But the main reason for this holiday isolation of mine is two-fold. First: I don’t have to share leftovers with anyone. Those turkey milkshakes are ALL mine, baby! Secondly: I don’t have to bathe. It’s a Win/Win all around. Sure, I made a few obligatory calls to family (curse you Alexander Graham Bell for this disruption in my expert flow of pie consumption!). The calls were well-timed so all were about to sit down to eat their own gluttonous meals. Therefore, the calls were short, concise, over & done so I could get back to adding even more whipped cream to the pile atop what I had already dubbed “Mt. Pun’kinPie.”

I always go through my check list of gratitude in this current year and life. Again, it’s something I prefer to do on my own. It’s just my way. Once upon a time, I foolishly spent Thanksgiving with friends when I still lived back east. They actually went around the table exclaiming their thanks ALOUD for review (and, we all know, judgment). My turn brought forth a simple, yet sincere, “Microwave ovens.”

After a beautiful, blissful sliver of silence, someone took the bait and asked, “Why are you thankful for microwaves?”

“Because we’ll have a way to quickly reheat all of our food,” I said. “This ritual is taking far too long and the food is getting cold.”

No, I wasn’t invited back the following year, which was, of course, my plan all along. The best part is they gave me a leftover platter to take home. SCORE!

Admittedly, this year has been a roller-coaster of a ride. It has been quite the amusement park for many of us, I’m sure. Losses, gains and, my favorite, some good ol’ fashioned status-quos. I enjoy the even-keel days. There are so few of them anymore so I try to savor them, like that last morsel of stuffing on your fork at the end of a holiday meal.

I always joke (somewhat) that I am fortunate enough to meet some really awesome dead people. Their dispositions are always pleasant, joyful and refreshing (especially after dodging flying Nike shoes amidst a Black Friday Apocalypse). But I have to say, I am SO blessed to have some of THE greatest clients imaginable. I learn and experience SO much through them. Every now and then, someone will reach out with a simple message of appreciation, inspiration and even motivation. Interestingly, these “out of the blue” (wink-wink-nudge-nudge) missives arrive at just THE best time. Proving, once again, it IS all orchestrated. Sometimes we forget to tap our foot along with the music.

For example, I was recently feeling a bit unsure about my life’s path in general. Questioning it is scheduled regularly on my Google Calendar. It happens to us all so no big whoop, right? Well, as I snuggled oh-so-contentedly in my comforter made of equal parts down and doubt, I received this unsolicited email from a client:

“I’ll always know you are a refreshingly very frank, humorous, tender-hearted, innocently gifted and sensitive medium just trying to manage your world and talents in the best way you can, being of service to people, and following an honorable code and method.”

Needless to say, I’m most grateful for her kind words AND the ideal universal timing of their arrival.

While I’m on the subject, I am always appreciative of the exchanges within any reading, private or platform, that I am privileged to perform as well. Each and every one presents a learning opportunity for me. Even the ones that do not meet my fanatical standards. Spirit always, without fail, will pass along lessons of insight, love, healing, encouragement, understanding and, of course, laughter in whatever mixture they see fit. They demonstrate the brightest of lights in the deceptively darkest of times. The ultimate night-light. Those who sit before me will—more times than not—serve up a buffet of eye-opening coaching as well. Just hand me a spork and a Wet-Nap and I’m set for a fine-ass meal of enlightenment with a side of finely chopped slaw.

There is a unique mixture of gratitude and fascination when it comes to group platform readings. Group readings, in my experience, always have a theme to them. Forgiveness, suicides, loss of a child, guidance, misunderstandings—you name it. I once conducted a crowd filled with a cluster of spirits who LOVED to bake! Needless to say, everyone was starving by the end of that one! You’re wondering what could possibly be “learned” from a batch of bygone bakers, aren’t you? Well, try these on for size: a reminder to do something you love. Remembering the sweetness of life. Rising to the occasion. You’re the co-creator of your own destiny. The list of ingredients go on-and-on. See it as you wish. Make a point to serve up what is best for YOUR best.

Another no-brainer, which is great for us but not so much for a band of zombies with the cranial munchies.

There’s always something to be thankful for within the mechanics of the tidings Spirit allows me to share. I have to say, however, this recent Thanksgiving served up a refreshingly large reminder of gratitude. Not so much in what I do BUT those that I encounter along the other 364 daze of days. I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with a student/client/friend just two days prior to Let’s Wear Belt Buckles On Our Hats Day. She had just completed her first Spirit Guide class with yours truly. For some reason, this shattering of her eardrums didn’t deter her from swapping ideals over pancakes and scrambles in a public forum. Yea, it struck me as odd, too, but who can really understand women?

Oh, dear. That was a tangent, wasn’t it?

I have read her several times over the years. After awhile you do develop a bond, an understanding, with long-term clients. You get a better understanding of them as a person through their own actions & reactions to just about anything. People, living or living impaired, never cease to amaze me with their ability to surprise and astound. This oddly timed brunch was certainly no exception.

When you spend any time with any medium, ‘death’ is bound to pop up in idle chit-chat. It’s the nature of the beast. She and I have known one another long enough to just let the conversation flow where it needs to go. She told me of her own life, in and out of the realms of her own metaphysical interests and gifts. I always enjoy discovering new aspects of people. I already knew she had lost both of her parents by the age of 21. It just doesn’t seem right, does it? Someone so young should not have to face such losses. Events of that magnitude are bound to leave holes. Holes, I am sure, that are not easy to fill. Honestly, to unearth this piece of her background, the subject has to be broached. Otherwise, you’d never know it by merely observing. It’s masked in the same incognito way that you’ll never suspect which of my pockets is stuffed with cheesecake unless you really pay attention.

I lied. The cheesecake never lasts long enough to make it into a pocket. Curse those tangents…

browneyesonlyShe stared at her slowly shrinking stack of pancakes for a moment in silent reflection. Then she turned her deep, dark, doe-like eyes up at me. Her eyes met mine with a silent force that, quite frankly, pushed me back into my seat a bit. It was gentle, straightforward and purity at its finest. She didn’t just look AT me, you see. She looked right into me and I FELT it. You don’t forget gazes like that, you know? You rarely see them seeing you. She flashed her naturally easy smile and said, oh-so-simply, “I often see the loss of my parents as a great gift.” This was something I did NOT know about her. I’m sure the subtle raising of one eyebrow gave away both my bewilderment as well as my nerdish desire to one day channel Leonard Nimoy. She continued, “It was their loss that led me to my path of spirituality. It really did change EVERYTHING.” Her warm smile never wavered as she said, “I’m so grateful for that. Every day I am grateful.”

Well, shut my pie-hole. Talk about a powerful statement. I greatly admire anyone who can turn a negative into a positive. But this one really takes the cake, or the pancake as the case may be. I am a firm believer in the fact that all that we go through is what leads us to who and where we are today. It’s our individual choices that carve it in stone. Some choose a higher path, others take the tunnels leading to what they believe will be an expressway of sorts. Welcome to the Free Will Toll Road, fellow drivers. Turn on your headlights and make sure you’re reading the signage up ahead.

I can relate to the loss of parents, but in a totally different way. As an adoptee, I lost my parents before I even knew they existed. I lost my adoptive father through divorce and then death when I was 6. At age 33 I finally met my biological mother and father only to lose them after 18 and 22 years respectively. My Bastard Heritage certainly carved out a large part of who I am. It’s a huge part of me and I am proud! I’ve always said I was a bastard before being a bastard was cool. I believe it even helps me with aspects of my mediumship. I’ve always been a rather detached person for the most part. I connect that with my ability to easily push emotion aside in order to make the connections required for any session. However, unlike my lunch companion, I have always had a parental figure of some sort within reach. She had lost both of hers before I had even found the second string of my own. And here she was, unequivocally stating, that this double barreled loss has emerged as a blessing.

She filled the holes in her heart, her spirit. But not with sorrow or self-pity. Oh, no. She filled them with seedlings from which great trees and beautiful flowers have grown. Her intention was to fill the darkness with something reaching for, and living within, the Light.

If that’s not a lesson in gratitude, pal, then I don’t know what is. I am so thankful for such a powerful reminder as well as a chance to share it with each of you. Cherish and be thankful for it all: what was, what you’ve made it and where it will possibly lead you tomorrow. Losses are NOT permanent. Love IS permanent. When situations are getting you down keep reminding yourself that this, too, shall pass… just like a gravy boat.

Thanks for… well, you get the gist.

 

 “I want to say thank you to all the people
who walked into my life
and made it outstanding,
and all the people
who walked out of my life
and made it fantastic.”
– Author Unknown (but certainly appreciated!)

Copyright © 2016, Charles A. Filius

 

October 5, 2016

Signs of the Father

“Oh, I believe in coincidences. I’ve just never seen one.”
Dannion Brinkley

I AM NOT, NOR WILL I EVER BE, A SOCIAL CREATURE. I’ve never been comfortable with any form of mingling. I’m more than just the brooding form huddled safely in the corner of a room. I prefer to just not show up at all. I’m that oddly placed dish of pickles on a dinner table. You don’t know why it’s there. Yet you pass it around to other equally disinterested guests, all the while knowing no one would miss it if it just wasn’t set out in the first place. I dodge most social functions with a Gold Medal Winning Flair. I can get out of just about any social situation with nearly zero effort. It comes naturally. For example, I once had three separate invitations to Thanksgiving dinner. I got out of all of them scot-free by explaining, “Oh, how thoughtful! But I’ve already been invited to dinner! Thank you so much for thinking of me.” Of course, I didn’t attend anyone’s dinner. I didn’t have to go through the motions of idle banter AND I didn’t have to share leftovers. Win / Win all the way around.

Even someone as expertly gifted at dodging social interaction as me gets painted into a redbaroncorner from time to time. The most recent of these losses came in the form of a wedding aboard The Queen Mary last June. Of course, when I initially received the invitation, my reaction was “Oh, HELL no!” But when I realized the wedding was taking place literally within walking distance of my home I figured I was pretty much screwed. Since the best man was traveling all the way from the east coast, I couldn’t really play the “It’s too far for me to travel” card. Curse you, Airline Travel! Curse you and your commercial conveeeeeeeenience!

Admittedly, my lack of interest in socializing was even lower than usual. My birth father, Everett, had passed away unexpectedly less than three months earlier. I was still dealing with the fallout from that, both emotionally and physically. As the executor of his estate, I had to juggle a wide array of things during that time including, but not limited to, his home & personal effects, fragile overblown egos, high-strung banshee-like emotional outbursts and why he had a plastic container filled with keys that fit absolutely NOTHING in his house. I had to push my own feelings aside (who knew I partook of such things?) and dive head-first into business mode. Which is, of course, a most clever way to not face the music (which, in my dad’s case, would be performed by a trio playing a mouth harp, a set of spoons and comb kazoo).

fullsizerender_1As is my custom in social situations, I rallied a friend to join me for the festivities. The key to surviving this sort of circumstance is to find an extrovert to ever-so-slightly mask your own preferred wallflower existence. However, I could not locate such a individual. Instead, I turned to my dear friend, Mona, who may never speak to me again after reading this. Mona is not just an extrovert. Oh, no. Mona is an extrovert on crack. To the tenth power. With a dash of caffeine. Twice. She gets super excited by anything and finds everyone just gosh darn fascinating:

“Oh, my God! Tell me MORE about your masking tape collection!”

Thanks to Mona and her Perky Persona, I have met people I would have never encountered, seen things that would have stayed hidden from my farsighted baby blues, and experienced situations that would have been passed on to someone else like the aforementioned dish of pickles. I personally prefer to watch such things unfold on TV but, hey, live a little, right?

We donned our gay apparel and made our way to The RMS Queen Mary, permanently dry-docked here in lovely Long Beach, California. Mona was fluttering around like an ADHD kid cut loose in a candy store while I was mostly uncomfortable and bewildered. You see, I was in a situation where I had to wear long pants. LONG PANTS! And, to add insult to injury, I was informed by some misinformed fashionista that Hawaiian shirts do NOT seem to be acceptable attire with a tuxedo. I was in a foreign land where no one spoke my language.

I should mention that Mona is also a medium (we travel in gaggles, you know?). So it shouldn’t come as a shock when I tell you things are bound to happen when you toss two mediums onto a haunted ship. I must admit that the vessel really is a playground for we sensitive sorts. It’s where energy & ectoplasm go on vacation. Mona and I have spent a lot of time aboard the Queen Mary over the years. Mona’s time on board has included taking several ghost tours, mediumship classes, and even photography field trips. In my case, however, I just get lost a lot and have a bitch of a time finding my way to an exit.

dscn0118Mona was dragging me all over the ship like a six-year-old on the search for Santa at Macy’s. She was excitedly pointing out different items of interest while I kept kicking myself for not leaving a trail of breadcrumbs through the corridors. Who’s to say if they would have been a device to find my way out again or just a convenient snack for later in the evening…

At one point during our meandering, we encountered a tall gentleman who is the acting Commodore on the ship. He was smartly dressed in white from head to toe. (FYI: When a medium encounters someone all in white our first inclination is to poke them with a finger to ensure that they’re real. That little stunt has helped me keep my Christmas card list at a VERY manageable level, let me tell ya…) Mona, as is her custom, squealed and hugged the Commodore. They exchanged pleasantries while I mentally marked all the EXIT signs within sight.

He was kind enough to chat a bit and even give us a tidbit of history of the ship—Lord knows I’m a sucker for sugar packet trivia—even though he was wrapping up his shift for the day. While he was talking I happened to glance at his name tag on his smartly pressed lapel: EVERETT. I chuckled to myself as I thought, “What a funny coincidence!”

Oh, Charles, you silly monkey. When will you learn?

The wedding was held outside on the stern of the ship. Despite no one wanting to do The Wave with me as the bride walked down the aisle, the ceremony went off without a hitch—acknowledge pun at your own discretion. All seemed right with the world as we thankfully moved inside for the reception. The groom, who is a writer among other trades, devised a deliciously unique literary theme for the reception. Each party had to search for their place card in a library Dewey Decimal card file. The names of the guests would be at the top, last name first, of course. Below the name one finds the title of a book. This tells you at what table you will be seated. Our table happened to be the Dracula Table (and it did not suck!). We made our way to our table to see the book Dracula by Bram Stoker prominently displayed as part of the centerpiece. Behind the main event was a stack of other seemingly random books. There was a Frankenstein table, a Wizard of Oz table, etc. From my point of view, the setup was nothing short of Nerdy Nirvana.  Of course, the risk of possible paper cuts looming over our fingertips added a flair of exhilaration to the festivities.

dscn0121The best man and his wife sat at our table. Bob and I have been close friends for nearly 40 years. That makes his wife, Shannon, my friend by default, like a step-sibling. Both of them are writers, and more, just like the groom. At one point, she sat down next to me and started talking to me like some kind of normal person. Very weird if you ask me. She said, “Remember those old photos you sent to me?”

I blanked for a moment as I searched my memory banks. All I came up with was some loose change and a green Lego. I shook my head. “Noooo…” was all I could muster.

“You sent me some old black and white snapshots,” she continued, her hand delicately cradling a wine glass. “You found them and thought I’d find them interesting.”

Then it dawned on me. There were several shots of some unknown small town and they were stapled together in one corner. The cars captured in the images clearly eluded to the 1950’s, the era of The Fonz. I had unearthed them while cleaning out one of my mother’s closets. She had no idea why she had them or even where they were taken. Shannon is very interested in West Virginia history so I figured she’d get a kick out of them. Passing the buck for the cost of a couple postage stamps. What will I think of next?

She said, “Well, I’m using one of them in a book I’m writing so you get a photo credit.”

“And I thought I’d never amount to anything!” I replied. She laughed, having no idea I was not even remotely kidding. “Do you have any idea where those pictures were taken? Or are you just using them as generic filler?”

She looked up at me as she sipped her wine. “Yea,” she said. “They were taken in Everettville, West Virginia.”

If I had been the one drinking I would have done a spit take that Danny Thomas would envy. EVERETTVILLE? SERIOUSLY?

Jpeg

A little while later, as Mona was running around befriending everyone on Facebook, I decided to look through the other stray books piled on our table. The ultimate wallflower looking for a book to read at a wedding reception. Jeez… how sad is THAT? I picked the first one up and opened it. I found the name of the previous owner along with a date: Carol Lundly, April 22, 1972. Everett’s youngest sister goes by her middle name, Maxine, but her first name is actually Carol. And April 22nd?  That just happens to be the month and day that I met my birthfather face-to-face for the very first time. I hurried and picked up the next book. The name scrawled inside of it was ‘Helen’, which is the first name of Everett’s oldest sister.

I just sat back in my chair and began to laugh. FYI: No one thinks twice about it if you’re sitting alone and laughing at a table scattered with empty wine glasses. By this time Mona had rejoined Dracula’s Lair. I explained all of the connections to my dad that had popped up throughout the day. She just sat there, smugly grinning. Then I committed the ultimate sin. I asked another medium, “Do you really think it means anything?”

Mona may be tiny but she moves quickly. Her hand slapped the back of my head in a rapid cadence that gave passersby the impression they were hearing The Gettysburg Address in Morse Code. Then, in that angelic little voice of hers, she shrieked, “Do ya THINK?”

Mona’s known for her sensitivity.

Or so I’m told. Ahem.

Leave it to my dad, who collected wives like some people collect stamps, to make his presence known at a wedding. What else should I expect from a man who dared pass away on April Fool’s Day?

If someone had come to me with this exact same story, I would be alongside Mona screaming, “DO YA THINK?” No questions asked. But when it comes to my own signs, my own connections, I end up doubting every single time. Why? I’m always leery that I’m reading too much into something. I don’t want my vivid imagination to run away with me. I don’t want my experiences to be simply ‘wishful thinking.’ That’s one of the reasons my Crew tends to go over the top and slap me around. They want to make sure they have my full attention. The other reason is that they just enjoy abusing me. I think I’m their cardio workout.

The lesson? Simple: acknowledge the signs, the feelings, that you get. Even a simple “coincidence” can be your loved one’s way of reaching out. Give your peeps a shout-out, a thumbs-up, for a job very well done. And know that your loved ones NEVER forget. They NEVER stop loving you. And, most importantly, they NEVER die.

Thanks, Dad, for the reminder… and so much more.

171

With my brother, Markis, and our dad in Las Vegas, 2011. The timing of my writing this entry is most fitting as today, October 5, is his 78th birthday. Well, how about that?

Copyright © 2016, Charles A. Filius

September 3, 2016

Connection Detection

Filed under: Inspirational,mediumship,Self Reflection — cfilius @ 4:50 am

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY if I told you that Donna Mae Wold recently passed away? In all likelihood, without knowing her, you would offer any array of generic condolences. “I’m sorry to hear that” or “Rest in peace” are perfectly fine responses, for example. While you may not know Donna, you can relate to any personal loss in your own life which provides your empathy for this situation. Loss does strike a louder chord when you do know the woman, like I did. I didn’t know her personally, but I certainly did know her. Her passing stirred up a lot of emotions for me. I found memories resurfacing like bubbles bobbing to the top of a freshly poured glass of pop.*

After hearing of my own connection, you may feel inclined to put a more personal touch to your offered condolences. “I’m sorry for your loss” is a classic stand-by. The affirmative “Is there anything I can do?” is a sure-fire crowd pleaser. But, I assure you, there’s no need for these or any other platitudes. While appreciated, of course, it’s not THAT kind of a loss for me. Someone, absolutely, but not me.

Interestingly, you (yes, YOU) know Donna on a certain level as well. You’re looking at your screen with a quizzical expression that is simultaneously questioning your own memory and my dwindling sanity, aren’t you? There’s no need to mull on either topic for any duration. There’s no reason for you to realize that you somehow know this mysterious woman. And my sanity is NEVER worth a second thought (this coming from the guy caught in the eye of the perfect storm that is my mind). Just allow me to slightly rephrase the initial question:

What would you say if I told you that The Little Red-Haired Girl passed away? Uh-huh. NOW you know her. I sense a universal “AH-HA!” as the window blinds of your mind zip up, spinning wildly with a never-ending flipity-flipity-flipity-flipity. Yes, THE Little Red-Haired Girl, the object of Good Ol’ Charlie Brown’s affections.

Donna Mae Wold and a young Charles M. Schulz dated once upon a time. He had proposed to her and, after some deliberation, she turned him down. After her rejection, he walked around for awhile collecting his thoughts. After about half an hour or so had passed, he returned to her home to see if she had perhaps changed her mind. But, alas, she had not. Unbeknownst to both of them, one of the most prolific stories of unrequited love was born. Sparky went on to immortalize his heartbreak by sharing it in ink with the rest of the world. I’m sure it was therapeutic for him and, honestly for his readers, too. We all have our own Little Red Haired Girl, don’t we? An unanswered love that didn’t blossom as fully as we’d hoped. But that missing flower can also help us appreciate the beauty of the rest that surround us. Love, won & lost, is truly a common denominator that connects us all. There’s nothing like a common experience to connect total strangers in a heartbeat.

We all “know” one another on some level. We’re all connected and, in round-about-ways, we have an impact of some sort on each another. There’s an ongoing ripple effect—the proverbial pebble plunking into a pond—that gives us the chance to continually overlap with someone else. A moment in the life of one can trigger something within another and another and so on.

An action triggers a thought that accesses a memory which awakens a heartfelt awareness once believed long passed. There’s a Rube Goldberg line of realization if there ever was one.

For example, you may read a newspaper article—for those of you that still read actual newspapers—about a local teacher who is retiring. She has worked for 50 years and never missed a day. While you do not know this person, the filler on page 6 of the local tabloid can still strike a chord. You may immediately flash to your favorite—or least favorite—teacher. The array of memories bombarding you rivaling a rainbow roll of Lifesaver’s; just one after another, splashing into your memory like a line of kids waiting their turn on the diving board at the local Y.

My favorite teacher was, oddly, my high school band instructor. He was truly the only teacher I had in the first 12 years of my alleged education who ever dared prepare me for life beyond that wretched brick building that imprisoned me for so many years. He taught me to never settle for second best. He taught me to constantly put my all into anything I do. He taught perseverance, determination. And, because of him, I instinctively walk in-step with anyone I happen to be strolling with at any particular time. Talk about awkward.

Side note: My old high school was torn down a few years ago. I just happened to be in town visiting my mother when it happened. You know what? My face still aches from smiling as I watched it come down, brick by brick.

You want to hear about my least favorite teacher now, don’t you? Can’t say I blame you. Tales focusing on a least favorite anything are generally far more entertaining. She was a scrawny little shrew who dominated my Third Grade year. She was the physical embodiment of an anorexic Far Side cartoon character, complete with a beehive hairdo and cat-eye glasses. Miss Sole—who ironically had none—had a lot of mean stuffed into such a tiny frame. The class was assigned a Thanksgiving art project: draw something you are thankful for. Simple enough, right? Several of my classmates were shouting out a number of ideas.

“Mommy and Daddy!”

“My dog!”

“Bunnies!”

I’ve never been one to wrangle my wandering thoughts. I’ve always preferred that they just run amok, free flowing and void of filters. So, with that in mind, I suggested, “The World!”

Miss Lack of Soul’s pompadour whipped toward me as she firmly stated, “NO!” She adjusted her pointy jewel-encrusted frames, her nearly reptilian-like eyes enlarged behind the Coke-bottled lenses. “You can ONLY be thankful for the United States!” I drew the world anyway. She gave me an “F” on the project. Ya know what? It was totally worth it.

Side note: She was eventually elected to the Board of Education.

blockhead

“There is a point… Is there a point to all this?
Let’s find a point. Is there a point to my act?
I would say there is. I have to.”
— Bill Hicks

The point being we are ALL connected, both here and “there”, one way or another. By memories shared or related, through our own lives or the similar experiences of others. I often relay experiences of a spirit and the sitter before me in mediumship sessions. If I am unable to grasp the situation the spirit will access something similar in my own life so I can better understand it. Our souls are intertwined here so why would that change just because some have passed on? If you think of your grandmother in spirit, she will know it. And on those days when you SWEAR you can sense your late aunt around you… well, why do you suppose that’s the case? She thinks of you, too. Love never dies. Love cannot be shut off. Love and Life are on-going. If they continue then it’s only logical that our connections do as well.

Charlie&RedHairedGirlDonna Wold and Charles Schulz went their separate ways. They married others, had families, and were very happy in their chosen lives. Yet each held a special place in their heart for the other one. Each of us have done the same. Life goes on. But, somewhere deep within, nestled in a place that only you can reach, that Little Red Haired Girl still resides. I know mine does. We aren’t together and never will be. But, in a certain time and place, there was that chance. I’ll never forget that sense of bliss, contentment, love. I can only hope she won’t, either. You’re lucky to see the beauty of a Tiffany Lamp but truly blessed are the select few who can have it near and feel the warmth of the light it emits onto their very own heart.

Stay connected.

*Yes, ‘pop’…not the inaccurate ‘soda’ so many people incorrectly toss about so readily. ‘Soda’, I’ll have you know, is a glass of ‘pop’ with ice cream in it. Get a grip, folks.

Copyright © 2016, Charles A. Filius, All Rights Reserved

July 31, 2016

For the Laugh of Me

“Life is the ultimate joke and the Dead ‘get it’.”
Pretentiously Quoting Myself

AndersonCAF-editOn the afternoon of August 2, 2001, I was a blissfully ignorant sack of meat that didn’t bother to give a hoot (whole or half) about anything in this world or any other. I was living right smack-dab in the middle of Bliss-Town with a 90210 zip code. Then, later that night, I was drugged, rolled up into a carpet, stuffed in the trunk of an Eldorado and relocated to a place that I was convinced did not even exist. I didn’t end up with just egg on my face, but a whole omelet bar with all the fixin’s. But, of course, most of you already know that. If you don’t then you can just click here and catch up with the rest of the kids.

As the 15th Anniversary of my Boot to the Head into mediumship looms, I find myself waxing philosophically about it. Not so much the workings of it all or even the ponderings of how I got here. I’ve done that far too many times over the past decade and a half. Old news, ya know? I find myself focusing on the on-going WHY of it all.  Specifically, WHY do I do what I do? Talking to the Dead: what kind of person decides to do this sort of crazy thing? I assure you Madam Olga was never a Career Day participant when I was in high school. One day you’re just sitting there, chatting with Great Uncle Hugh, and then he just keels over. Anyone else would assume the dialogue would end as quickly as he did. But not me. Noooo way. I just  continue our conversation despite the fact that most assume Hugh was no longer in a position to be much of a conversationalist. Diving into discussions with the dearly departed does have its downside, lemme tell ya.

I suppose you can say the initial seeds were planted in the very beginning. Since childhood I have had an intense interest in death. No great news flash there. Some would probably term it as an “obsession.” While I can understand this judgment call, I am honestly not sure about the accuracy of it. One man’s obsession is another man’s Sunday afternoon. Admittedly, I’ve blurred the line separating “interest” and “obsession” so much that the Hubble would have difficulty getting it in focus.

My revered love of cemeteries is my go-to example of this fascination. I’m intrigued how individuals handle death. I’ve always wondered whose idea it was to dress the deceased in their “Sunday Best” and then throw a huge party for them on the one day their absence is an absolute guarantee. Why do people tend to whisper in funeral homes? It’s not like they’re gonna wake anyone up. It really makes me happy to see so many are turning away from the traditionally solemn funeral and embracing the idea of a true Celebration of Life. I love how some will include personal items in and around the casket or urn. No pun intended, but it does seem to bring the person to life. For example, my niece slipped a bottle of Pepsi into my birth mother’s coffin. My birth father’s box of ashes was crowned with a stylish pair of Minnie Mouse ears with DA-DA stitched on the back. Leigh was buried clasping a lapel pin emblazoned with the Bastard Nation logo. I like to envision some yet unborn archeologist of the distant future stumbling upon her crypt one day. The archeologist, upon unsealing it, will exclaim, “Now, THERE is one proud Bastard Goddess!

Memorials, I feel, should be made more personal. Do not rely on some cookie-cutter format with an “Insert Name Here” approach. I feel the same way about grieving. Death and grieving are very personal things and they should be treated, and respected, as such. Everyone handles them differently. Some linger and dwell while others boldly, while some think coldly, move forward. Mourning isn’t a race, people. We’re all going at our own pace. My readings over the years have taken on a life of their own (puns are just falling like rain, aren’t they?). They are, for the most part, made distinctive by the personal enhancements from Spirit. So, yea, it all tends to tie in together.

 

Family

(L-R) Lil’ Ol’ Me, Carletta (sister), Jay (brother-in-law), Markis (brother) & Fred (my family funeral fella)

There’s no doubt about it… I’ve always found the whole kit n’ caboodle pretty interesting. Not necessarily dinner-conversation interesting for most, but interesting just the same. I excitedly discovered, when my birth father passed, that I actually have a cousin who is a mortician. How remarkable is THAT? You have no idea how I wish someone would instate an annual “Take Your Cousin to Work Day.”

 

Cousin Fred makes ‘em up while I chat ‘em up. That’s a sit-com just screaming to happen, folks.

Our presents and futures are always affected by our pasts. The more you analyze your own the more you will uncover. Seemingly random recollections can, one day, bring forth a great epiphany. Attending my great grandmother’s funeral, when I was barely 2 years of age, stands out as one of my earliest memories. I can’t say I understood on a conscious level, but I assume there was a familiarity on a more subconscious one. Over the years I’ve heard how many commented on my being so well behaved during the funeral. I’ve been told I just sat on my mother’s lap, looking around with quiet curiosity. Things have changed, of course. I no longer behave OR sit on anyone’s lap. One would need major medical for the latter.

I have honestly met many-a-relative ‘round a casket—if not IN one—over the years. As a kid, I would stare at the Over-Dressed One on display with equal doses of morbid curiosity and imaginary terror. You see, I survived on a steady gluttonous diet of horror comics, movies and television shows at that age. Tales from the Crypt, The House on Haunted Hill and Dark Shadows were massive influences on my already overactive imagination.

As the adults would flock around the box, I would stand and stare at its contents. I would just stand there, my tiny hands grasping the side of the coffin, with my nose resting on the puffy, rippled material like a little morbid Kilroy. I would bide my time and, eventually, I would see it: an almost undetectable rise and fall of the chest! Young Kilroy’s eyes would widen as his grip would tighten. I would mentally scream “HE’S ALIVE!” (In my head I sounded exactly like Colin Clive, by the way.) This was very plausible to me. Hell, NO ONE at Collinwood EVER stayed buried so why would Late Great Uncle Hugh?

I was convinced the cadaver in question was still alive. And, of course, I was correct in that assumption… just not in the way that I thought. There were no catatonic zombies, armies of the undead or even a colony of vampires. They were very much alive—not flesh-and-blood alive, like you and me currently—but alive in their natural state. Energy. Light. Life-force. Spirit. However you wish to categorize it is fine. I’ve discovered The Other Side isn’t nearly as obsessed with labeling as we seem to be.

My imagination fueled me as a child and, in return, I sought out ways to stimulate it. It was an on-going vicious circle that even Mrs. Parker may have envied. I believe imagination is a key ingredient to successful mediumship. I’m not saying legitimate mediums make things up. Not by any sense of the absurd word. A vivid imagination is what allows your mind and common sense to just let go. This openness lets you welcome whatever passes by without judgment or rational thought. Of course, I had NO clue that all I was doing was adding more logs onto the roaring mediumship bonfire awaiting me. S’mores, anyone?

Time has taught me that this trail o’ mine was blueprinted quite some time ago. It was being built piecemeal over a period of several years and it’s STILL under construction. I was oblivious to it for the vast bulk of that time-frame. I was 40 when I realized there was a path in the first place! My construction crew, I assume, consists of Union laborers taking full advantage of their regulated breaks and work hours. Of course, as with most contractors, they never finish on time, let alone come in under budget. (I’ve just managed, in two short sentences, to completely alienate any union workers AND contractors who may be reading this. Note to Self: Hire a PR Manager.)

So, my background, my varied experiences & interests, have a bit to do with why I’m a medium. Tick that one off the list. So, what else? Someone recently said to me, “I bet there’s a lot of perks doing what you do.” Perks? Seriously? It’s not like mediumship comes with a benefit package. I’ll be honest, living a life as a medium does come at a cost. You can kiss what is perceived as normalcy goodbye. There is an alienation about this field so I hope you enjoy your own company. You have to often rely on the sound of your own voice to drown out the others echoing in your head at the most awkward of times. Predictability is predictably nonexistent. You will see things from such unusual angles that you’re life will begin resembling a Dali painting. You’ll even find yourself listening to someone who insists her cat is her reincarnated great grandmother who now advises her on her love life. (You have no idea how I wish I was actually making that one up…) It can be draining in all ways imaginable. And, after awhile, when you allow the voices in your head to speak over your heart—your higher self—you begin to doubt the blueprint, the contractors AND the architect.

It’s at that very moment, my friends, when one can expect to be the “soul” target of an onslaught of divinely guided cream pies. Thus proving that God IS the undisputed King of Slapstick.

Tossing the realistic reasons around like a cat with a ping pong ball is not only tiring, but monotonous. This leads to dwelling on the physical, or business, aspect of mediumship. How practical is this field, really? What about doing the things I WANT to do? I do not want to rely on romantic recommendations from Tabby Grammy to fill my thoughts, let alone my schedule. So, I began looking for answers. I devoted too much of my time to turning over rocks searching for a morsel of wisdom with subzero results. What’s funny about the whole thing is that my searching for the WHY had made me FORGET the why. That’s like

eating cheesecake as you work out on a treadmill.

(Mmmmmm… cheesecake… Oops. Sorry ‘bout that. Focus, Charles, focus…)

Tidbits of wisdom can be found everywhere you choose to actually look AND listen. But you can look with such scrutiny that you don’t see a damn thing. The whole “forest / trees” scenario, ya know? Sometimes—or, in my case—MOST of the time wisdom is hurled at me through the words of another. Why? Because figuring it out all by myself is obviously just too damn difficult. One of my favorite quotes is “For when the disciple is ready the Master is ready also.” Another is, “Seek and ye shall find.” And, finally, the be all and end all, “Two people kissing always look like fish.”

DoctorIsOutI do not, by any means, consider myself a Master. Mediumship, like life, is just one gigantic learning curve and we’re all cruising on it. I’ve taught some psychic & mediumship development classes over the years. Reluctantly, of course, but I’ve done it just the same. Teaching is not a suit I prefer to don, even though it does pop up in my wardrobe with an unsettling frequency. Like anyone else, I find myself going through the motions instead of being aware of each and every step. Instead of paying attention, I’m paying no mind to my inner and outer surroundings. I start feeling comfortable where I am in the scheme of things. Too comfortable. I end up being far too complacent in my little You-Are-Here Map. The dotted lines direct me to the rest room, any fine establishment that serves cheesecake and the Hawaiian Shirt Depot. No need to stray from what works, right? I still manage to get lost even when the dashed lines are clearly sprawled out before me. Sometimes I do it by simply standing still. Now there’s a skill I need to tag onto my resume

In the midst of my chasing my own tail from the cozy comfort of a Barcalounger, my most recent Master showed up in the form of one of my current students. Talk about adding insult to injury! He really is a very gifted medium and channel. Well, he is once he gets his own head out of the way (thank God that’s NEVER the case with me… Ohhh! Lightening!). The arrow hits the bullseye and he does great… for awhile. Then he thinks and the next arrow wedges into the hillside. Eventually, he spills his quiver on the ground and stifled mayhem ensues. The battle between what the mind THINKS and what the soul KNOWS rages onward ever onward. I’ve told him time and time again, “You can do this!”

After relaying a rather amazing experience he had with Spirit—one that exhibited so many “coincidences” that he could open up his own museum—he wrote, “So I just wanted your opinion Charles… Is this spirit stuff real?  I’m not sure if I’m fully convinced yet.” At that point my head tilted to the right as my left eyebrow rose in silent sarcasm. He continued, “You NOW have the right to SMACK me during circle if I’m showing doubt or not giving the information coming to me. My guidance approves.” Before I could begin oiling up my boxing gloves he allowed Spirit to work through him just a little bit more. “I feel I just have to do my homework and be available for Spirit to work through me,” he realized. “It’s not about ME trying to be a great medium… you may have to remind me of this from time to time…”

“So, he CAN do this,” I gloated to no one in particular. Then it hit me. The little dweeb—grumbled with love—not only was handed an amazing slice of proof from Spirit for his own doubting ways, BUT they also used him to deliver a much needed sucker punch to me as well. It was even conveyed in my usual irreverent tongue-in-cheek manner. Well, goodie for them.

See? There’s always reinforced construction taking place in the background. Seeking & Finding. This is much better than the usual Cease & Desist requests that I get, but I digress. It had been right there in front of me, mostly clear as day. I just refused to admit it was there all along. I caved to the voices of doubt. I gave in to the fears, and what happened? Spirit provided me with yet another array of Spiritual Wedgies and Purple Nurples.

The reason I’m a medium? The reason I allow my life to be purposely flipped upside down? The reason why I choose, every single day, to walk a path that is the equivalent of playing hopscotch in a minefield? The reason I do this work? It’s simple: because I can.

Because. I. Can.

33254357 - typewriter with special buttons, because i can

Honestly, I’ve never been a purveyor of normalcy. I naturally keep as many people as I can at a very comfortable distance that would overload any GPS. And routine has never been my forte. New perspectives keep an artist interested as well as interesting, don’t you think? And, frankly, hearing tales of a reincarnated grand-ma-ma speaking amore through a feline is bound to make anybody’s day.

I had allowed myself to shorten my naturally short-sightedness. When in doubt we tend to return to what is familiar. The same spoke, even after all these years, comes back up every now and again. Why? Is it because I haven’t finished this lesson yet? Or is it because I’m digging my nails into a piece of driftwood because I’m afraid I’ll drown if I let go? Fear of the unknown is a pretty funny affliction for a guy who talks to the dead.

This is where the last quote comes into play. Andy Warhol was right. Two people kissing DO tend to look like fish. But what are you actually seeing? Are you seeing a couple of mackerels making out or are you seeing a physical representation of love? Perception is the key. It can go either way but what does your natural intuition tell you? Trust what you receive. Trust what you perceive. Trust Spirit. Trust yourself. And trust the experience. I’ve thought, all along, that I keep repeating this serial doubt because I’m not finished with the lesson. That’s the easy way out. What it boils down to is that I’m afraid to let go and trust (yet again). Well, I WAS. My anniversary gift to myself this year is making a conscious effort to let go of that driftwood and trust the waves are taking me where I need—and want—to go.

To each of you reading this, I thank you for not only trusting my connection with Spirit, but for entrusting me with the responsibility that goes with it. I am grateful for being able to do what I do. I am blessed to hopefully help you see or sense something that will bring you comfort, understanding, peace and a solid dose of healing laughter. I assure you, and myself, that I will continue to do what I do because I can for as long as I can. And, more than anything, thanks for sharing the joke with me. Laughter doesn’t just lift the spirits, ya know? It lifts ALL Spirits.

So, two dead guys walk into a bar…

FiliusHeadstone_100

Photo by Alexander Drecun © 2016

 

Copyright © 2016, Charles A. Filius, All Rights Reserved

April 8, 2016

Heaven’s Kitchen

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 12:11 am
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I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe our dad. My mind reels at the wide array of adjectives swirling through my head. Do you know what I’ve discovered? It’s not an easy task to just “sum up a person.”  Summarizing our dad is like saying the Himalayas are just a couple of hills. When I was a kid, Reader’s Digest—the IDEAL publication for those with ADHD—ran a regular feature entitled, “The Most Unforgettable Person I Ever Met.” Well, let me tell you, if Everett Kitchen is ANYTHING, it is ‘unforgettable.’ His warmth is an inferno. His generosity extends beyond a vanishing point on the far horizon. I could go on and on about his loyalty, his genuine heart, his devotion to family and friends, his sense of humor. All of the traits that we already know so well, and are already missing.

There are several things I will miss, of course. His hugs, for example. He would just engulf you in those massive arms of his. You’d struggle, but only in jest. Once there, you just didn’t want to leave because you were home. Another thing is his “seal of approval.” I’m sure we’ve all heard it at one point or another.

Jpeg

Everett “Kitch” Kitchen (1938 – 2016)

Someone would ask, “Hey, Kitch, how’s that bowl of chili?”

He’d answer excitedly, “WOOT! I mean to tell ya!”

 “Is this OK?”

“Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

“Isn’t that funny, Kitch?”

“Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

He is his own man with his own style.

His surname couldn’t be any more appropriate. Seriously, what that man could do in a kitchen was something wedged between a miracle and a masterpiece. A stove and a spatula were his brushes while an empty plate and stomach were his canvases. As you can see, I’m quite the accomplished art collector… He did everything in his power to make sure no one left his home hungry. And, if he went to YOUR place, he’d bring the food to you or make it there himself. And, if by some freak of nature, you DID go away hungry… well, it was your own damn fault.

Kitch brought a lot to the table, both literally and figuratively. Whether it is the dinner table or to whatever relationship you had with him. Parent. Family. Friend. Co-worker. Partner in Crime. It didn’t matter because any table setting with him was as beautiful as it was memorable. It overflowed with all and more than you needed, let alone expected. And, if by some random hiccup in the Universe, you couldn’t find what you wanted, then he’d find a way to get it for you.

017He was a father and an unconventional one at that.  He didn’t raise us as a traditional Ward Cleaver sort. But his love for all of us was never hidden or denied. He bubbled over with love and pride for his kids. He was always willing to offer a helping hand, a kind word, a flick on the back of the head if we’d wander too far off the expected path. He gave us room to breathe, to falter, to experience life as WE saw it and to learn from our successes as well as our failures. He always encouraged each of us to stand and evolve on our own, and that included falling as well. He graciously and generously offered advice, encouragement, and unending love. He also had absolutely no problem serving up his completely unedited opinions. His views, like his love, were given freely, without hesitation or reserve, whether you wanted it or not. If you asked him a question you’d better be willing to hear the answer!

I am an adoptee. My birth mother was not in a position to care for me properly. She felt I would have a better chance if she put me up for adoption. My mom who raised me, who is a hair shy of 93 and feisty as ever, has always been upfront with me about my adoption. She was very supportive when I began my search for my biological families—my roots—over 30 years ago (By the way, I began my search when I was 8…). I was 33 years old when I spoke to Everett the very first time. I first spoke to my birth-mother three weeks earlier. I was welcomed by her, and her family, with open arms. However, I honestly believed I would NOT have a relationship with my birth-father. I expected to be denied and turned away. In my experiences, birth fathers are more likely to shun the whole idea while birth mother’s are pretty much the opposite. I had a great reunion with my birth mother so I certainly did not expect lightening to strike twice.

Kitch proved to be the wild card. Lightening struck with a blinding intensity and started a fire that burns brilliantly to this day and beyond. Way to go, Dad…

The first five minutes of our initial phone conversation were cordial. Friendly, but understandably guarded. I explained I didn’t want anything other than some answers, a peek into on my own history. He told me that he would be happy to tell me what he could.

He then asked, “What’s your blood type?”

I fully understood why he asked. We did not have the luxury of having Maury Povich exclaiming, “Everett! You ARE the father!”

Well, he asked so, being the naturally born smart-mouth that I am—thanks, Dad—I simply replied, “My blood type? Red.”

Then we both howled in laughter. This disruption of the sound barrier was immediately met with our abrupt silence. For the first time in my life I heard my laugh echo back at me.

If you know Kitch, you know THE LAUGH. That garish, glass shattering cackle that has been known to make babies cry and land masses shift.

After a moment of silence Kitch said, “This is real, isn’t it?”

I merely answered, “Yea. I guess it is.”

That ended any discussion of blood type right then and there. Paternity proven through laughter. IN YOUR FACE, MAURY!

04_FamilySo, yes, I have the laugh. My brother, Markis, has the laugh. My sister, Carletta, has THE LAUGH. Hearing this laugh spew upward and outward from someone standing a petite five-foot-four is, honestly, just plain spooky!

I don’t mean to stand here and tell you he was perfect. He wasn’t and he’d be the first to admit it. He didn’t even meander in a suburb of the gated community of perfection. He was bull-headed. The man took stubborn to a height that any accomplished mountain climber would covet. He was a cut of the ‘my way or no way’ jib.

On my first visit to his home in Colorado, he had the gall to announce to this City Boy, “We get up at 4 o’clock in the morning around here.”

I replied, “Good to know. When I get up at 10 be sure you tell me all about it.”

See? I got a little more than just his laugh.

If he didn’t like something, whether it be a situation or tuna, he’d let you know about it. He wouldn’t shirk away from his opinion and he respected anyone who did the same. He shot from the hip and ricochets be damned. He told me, more than once, “I always speak my mind… when I can find it.”

He had zero tolerance for anyone who wallowed in their own self-pity. “If you aren’t willing to help yourself,” he said, “how can you face yourself in the mirror?”

I looked at him and said, “I sold my mirrors. They were defective.”

Once again, that laugh echoed in stereo.

He didn’t believe in regrets. Instead, he preferred to own up to what was, focus on what is, and look forward to what may be. An eternal optimist wrapped in a tortilla of sarcasm. Again, unforgettable.

He was a giver. He didn’t ask for anything other than honesty and love in return. He received so much more joy when giving to another than getting a glamorous holiday gift himself.

IMG_1812

In order of appearance: Carletta, Sandra, Charles and Markis.

Honestly, if I had to sum him up, I’d have to say our father is about laughter. He instilled that in all of us. He is about joy. He is about giving. And, I mean to tell ya, he is about food! Preparing AND eating! He is about bringing people together. The turnout today surely proves that. He even managed to wrangle his kids together for the very first time. Talk about being a control freak!

His passing has been such a shock to each and every one of us. How someone so full of life—even BIGGER than life—can be gone so quickly is just a mystery. We’re all still trying to wrap our minds around referring to him in the past tense. My sister, Carletta, summed it up best a few days ago. She stepped groggily out of her bedroom one morning and said, “Do you know what I was supposed to be doing today?”

“What’s that?” I asked.

She simply said, “Not this.”

Boy, Sis, ya got that right.

It’s only fitting that Dad passed ON  April Fool’s Day. If anyone would appreciate the humor it that, it would be him. The real kicker for me is that the very next day, April 2nd, marked the 22nd anniversary of the very first time he and I spoke. The first time I ever heard OUR laugh.

Because of my work as a medium, I know that life never truly ends, that we don’t really die. We simply move on. With that in mind, someone recently asked me, “Where do you think he is now?” Honestly, this is how I picture it: Dad makes his way through a field of billowing clouds of dry ice like we see in so many Hollywood movies. After walking for awhile he finally sees a glowing light off in the distance. Instinctively, he begins to walk toward it. As he draws near the light he is is immediately greeted by a multitude of hyperactive drooling black labs. Amidst the jumping, licking and yelps of excitement, they manage to lead him to this massive set of pearly gates. The gates open effortlessly because they have WD-40 over there. The opening gates resemble what can only be described as large arms reaching out for a loving, long overdue embrace. The kind that he, himself, always gave. As Kitch’s brown eyes adjust to the intense bright light, he finds himself standing in His presence.

The Big Guy standing before The Bigger Guy.

So, Kitch just flashes that crooked smile of his, and simply drawls, “So, did I do OK?”

And God, in whatever form you see Him, in whatever way you believe, looks at Kitch, reflecting that same crooked smile that He, Himself, created, and exclaims, “Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

We love you, Dad.

Eulogy Delivered Thursday, April 7, 2016
Wayne, WV

February 12, 2016

Speak It, Teach It

AlgebraI helm a weekly mediumship development circle every Sunday in Signal Hill. Some of you are, in all probability, scratching your head over this one. If you know me, you also know that teaching is not one of my favorite pastimes. Teaching ranks right down there with holiday family dinners, raisins and Country Caterwauling that some insist is music. I’ve always assumed my dislike for teaching stems from my lifelong loathing of school in general. I often feel like the character in the Far Side cartoon asking his teacher, “Mr. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full.” I was bored to tears the vast majority of the time back in my school days. And it wasn’t because I was some unearthly genius, either. Good heavens, no. I just resented anyone telling me what to do. (A delightful quirk that I clutch onto with a stubborn death grip to this very day.) Even then I knew the path my life would be taking. I was going to be a cartoonist and that journey would not involve algebra or geometry. I guess you could say, upon reflection, that little snippet was one of my earliest psychic predictions. Move over, Psychic Twins, there’s a new Criswell on the block.

I’ll let you know if Terry and Linda ever speak to me again after that comment…

So, why on earth (or any other plane of existence you prefer) did I decide to take on this class? That’s a damn fine question. Honestly, I did it out of sheer boredom. I was looking to shake things up, do something different, so I put that desire out there to my Guides. When will I ever learn? Once again, Robert and the Gang opted to take me at my word and toss me in head first. Way to go, Guys and Gals. The class had originally been taught by someone else, but he moved out of the area. A couple of his students approached me and asked if I would be interested in stepping in as their new teacher. Great Googly Moogly, what were they thinking? SERIOUSLY? That’s like putting me in charge of the dessert cart. You just know nothing good is going to come from it.

When I teach, I like to push the envelope, test new ideas, take students down unfamiliar pathways. It’s fun to dive into the deep end of the pool without an inflatable clown-character raft. Not knowing what will happen is a great spiritual aphrodisiac.

My personal theory is that your connection with your own Spirit Guides is singularly the most important aspect of this work. The stronger the communication, the personal connection, the clearer the corridor. This connection can take you to uncharted places with unbridled passion. The more I discover, the more I want to know. The more I know, the more I want to share with anyone within a somewhat interested earshot. I’m not one for rambling lectures. The learning—the excitement—is in the doing, not in the humdrum listening and waiting.

So, to keep things lively, I’ve opened the door to channeling for my band of students. I’ve shown them exercises in meeting with their Spirit Guides—hobnobbing with them if you will—and even their Higher Selves. I’ve taken them to the next stage of conversing with them through Automatic Writing (a true passion for me). Channeling seemed like the logical next step along the way. This builds trust as well as comfort in your connection to your Spiritual Peeps, your Crew. I assure you that channeling is NOT for everyone. But it will allow you to better feel, and understand, the energy of your own Guides. This comes in especially handy for those times when you think, “I can’t feel my Guides around me! Where are they?” We all do it from time to time. Trust me on this. You will, by merely raising your own sensitivity and awareness, find that statement will all but completely vanish from your daily diatribe. And how cool would THAT be?

I know what you’re saying… “Hey, Charles, it sure sounds like you’re teaching right now!” Yeah, whatEVER. I’m doing it at two in the morning while nibbling on a cold frosted strawberry Pop-Tart and sipping an ice-cold glass of milk. My class, my rules.

The class had some major breakthroughs this past week. I was extremely proud of my students and their accomplishments (Pop-Tarts would have improved the experience but, hey, you can’t have everything). Some very intense messages, emotionally as well as philosophically, came through each student. There’s nothing like a good dose of self awareness to wake you up in the middle of the afternoon. Normally, I will go into channel first in order to set the tone of the exercise. It is also good for students who have never experienced anything like this to see a bit of the possibilities lying ahead for them. Last week, however, I was told in no uncertain terms, I had to wait until the end. While unhappy about being told what to do, I begrudgingly admitted that They are always right. Just like my editor, but I digress… So, like a good whipping boy, I waited.

When I channel, privately or in public demonstrations, I discover there is a protocol. Robert always opens and closes the session. He has a ritual that he has gone through since day one. Then he will move onto whatever topic he deems necessary for those in attendance. Once he takes care of his agenda others may, from time to time, pop in for more commentary. It is interesting to hear the view points of the others. They merely offer their take, their spin, on Robert’s initial message. Once they are finished Robert will pop back in with a quick summation or message and then off they go. Robert, and Robert alone, always opens the floor for a Q&A when I am giving a public channeling demonstration. He doesn’t bother with personal questions (“Should I move to another town,” etc). He is looking for questions of a Universal, a more spiritual, nature. “If you broaden your mind you will surely enhance your intentions,” Robert says, “Imagine the possibilities within THAT!” The ONLY time this protocol was broken was during a demo at The Owl’s Lantern in Fullerton, CA, a few years ago. Robert had taken a couple of inquiries from those in attendance, as is his custom. Then one woman asked a question and, much to everyone’s surprise, Robert stepped aside and allowed Dondi to speak! This was the first and, as of this date, the only time that has occurred.

A little background on Dondi. He is a three-dimensional version of the comic strip character by Irwin Hasen. He is about 5 or 6 years of age. His love of life is contagious. It’s really fitting because I am a cartoonist, as you know, AND I’m an adoptee. The whole package is once again wrapped up neatly and beautifully. Realizing that my Joy Guide is a 5 year old REALLY explains a lot about me, doesn’t it?

Anyway… Dondi answered her question and then Robert returned to continue. I later discovered that the woman who asked the question had a daughter whose name is Dondi AND she was named after the comic strip character! So, once again, proof that the interaction is never random. There’s always a reason. ALWAYS. We may not get it at the time but, trust me, one day it will all come together.

You’re wondering what Robert had to say this past Sunday, aren’t you? Well, speculate no more, for here are Their words. Happy mulling!

 

ROBERT

“I am here, Charles. I am Robert. I will answer your questions at this time. I am here, on your right, as always.

“Lovely to see you. More lovely to see your experiences today. Intoxicating, isn’t it? This is to be understandable. For some, it is very new. And, with the newness, comes intensity, fascination, sadness. But not [sadness] in a sorrowful way. Perhaps a sadness of what you may have missed by not pursuing this communiqué sooner. A sadness for missing emotion of the heart. Sadness of not really believing… not mentioning any names. (Whispers) Is Kevin listening? (loudly) HAHA!

[FYI: Kevin and I are both life-long members of The Bull-Headed Skeptics Club. We have a secret handshake and everything.]

“Your ways are not foreign to us [Kevin]. If you had to work with this (pointing to self) you would understand. HAHA! It is true. He HAS driven me to drink. HAHA!

“Right now, the levity felt in your hearts, in your consciousness… do you feel that? (Snaps fingers 5 times) The guards come down so you may see. And what you see, my friends, is but merely the beginning. If you never do this again you will always have this experience. But, since you have touched it, taken it, you want to try it again, don’t you? Again… intoxicating. Allow the excitement, the wonder, the curiosity to lead you, entice you and, most importantly, BE you.

“Your soul craves the connection of ‘home’. The body knows it is home but you understand, now, the duality. What you see is not always what you get. For what you are seeing is always a little more complicated. Look beyond what SEEMS in order to see what IS.”

 

PAMELA

“Oh, he’s not going to be happy that I’m here. (Long sigh, as if exhaling smoke)

“Hello, my friends. I… am… Pamela. I am, as my host would say, a bit of a smart ass. But would you expect anything else? (Whispers) I don’t think so.

“Robert speaks of what is seen, what is felt, what is processed (she pronounced it as PRO-cessed). *I* understand the individual versions of what your eyes, what your mind, tells you. Rebeka, Love, first word that comes to your mind when I say the word, ‘Radio’?”

Rebeka: Frequency.

“Shawn… same question.”

Shawn: Transmission.

“Two different answers! Which is correct? Both! ‘Frequency’ for Rebeka, ‘Transmission’ for Shawn. Each of you has a set of, shall we say, encyclopedias in one’s mind, in one’s heart. Rely on these. Rely on these.

“One continually asks for a sign. We are not in the billboard business! But… but… beyond the billboards you seek—or THINK you should see—that is where the signs ARE. That is where the signs are. If you do not understand what you are feeling, focus on what you are seeing. How does THAT make you FEEL? And your answers can be there. It will not always be black and white. WHY? Because you have to work through it. THROUGH IT.

“Why? Why not? Think about that. WHY NOT? To desire knowledge, to crave knowledge, you must first dive into it. Play with it. And let it be whatever it needs to be for you. Each of you.”

 

ROBERT

“I am Robert. With our collective hearts, our collective thoughts, our collective intentions, and, of course, our collective love, you are thanked, you are appreciated. And, until next time, I am done.”

 

With those three little words—I AM DONE—Robert was “gone”. I know he wasn’t truly gone but his focus, his energy, was hurled back from hence it came. I always feel an odd emptiness when he has stepped back. I mean I’m plugged into this intense generator when, all of a sudden, the power source is shut off faster than he can snap my fingers. What never ceases to amaze me is the depth of Their brevity. The messages are always deceivingly short. But, if you re-read them, over and over, you’ll discover such complexity and influence within the few sentences that have been given. I’m always left in a state of awe. I know my own words. I know the pattern and rhythm of my own speech. I stare at the messages given and my first thought is always, “That is NOT me!”

If They can provide words through me that are not my own, then they can just as easily push, poke and prod me into other things that are not necessarily my own preferred actions, such as teaching. It isn’t fully me at the podium. I know that. But, if I truly did not want to teach, I would not be doing it (as much as I hate to admit it). I have had, from the onset, this simple philosophy regarding mediumship: I will quit the instant it stops being fun. The same can be said about teaching, too, I suppose. I like to push my students out of their comfort zone because I know they’ll learn from the experience. My Guides enjoy doing the exact same thing to me. What a friggin’ shock.

The lesson here? You need to embrace each and every part of yourself. The dark and the light, the cozy and the discomfort, the chocolate and the broccoli. It’s all there for a reason. As Pamela asked, “How does THAT make you FEEL?” Mull it over, kids. Class dismissed.

Copyright © 2016, Charles A Filius, All Rights Reserved

January 5, 2016

Playing with Mediumship

11613010_sHaving grown up as an only child, my so-called social life consisted of mingling and hobnobbing my toys. As any only child will attest, you are always on a constant search for new-fangled ways to entertain yourself. Personally, I became very adept at playing most board games as a lone player. I could objectively play games of chess, Monopoly, Life—even Sorry—against myself. I’ve always had a strong love of board games simply because they involve two of my favorite pastimes: concentrating and sitting. Sitting is underrated. It really is. Die-hard sitting takes commitment and determination. Ask anyone with ADHD. One day I will have a pillow embroidered with these soulful words:

“If It Shan’t Be Done Whilst Sitting
Then ‘Tis Not Worth Doing!”

Despite my adoration of those geniuses at Milton Bradley, my favorite toy of all time was my odds-and-ends assortment of various plastic figures. I had accumulated, over time and by no intended purpose, a green draw-string bag filled to the brim with an ill-fitted bevy of cowboys, Indians, astronauts, soldiers and even Presidents. Yes, you read that correctly. I had John Adams and Abe Lincoln in full living color and a plain white Dwight Eisenhower (accurately depicted, I do believe). They stood approximately 2 ½” in height. I have no vivid recollection of how they came to be a part of my collection. They were just always there. Eisenhower’s head was lopsided because, early on, I discovered that I could write on the sidewalk using his Presidential cranium like a piece of chalk. Clearly, I did not like Ike.

I would spend long hours, day after day, immersed in the world I created with my plastic playmates. Each one had a name and a very specific role in our world. There was a band of heroes led by The Professor (an old west doctor holding a medical bag). He was assisted by Alex and Jane (both being Native American figures, red and blue respectively) and Hans (a confederate soldier separated from his regiment when he was caught up in the aftermath of a time machine the Professor had invented—who hasn’t had THAT happen at some point?). A reoccurring character was a Viking named Thor (I pride myself on the originality of names). He was another victim of one of the Professor’s time machine mishaps. Later plots revealed that Thor and Hans had actually been brothers in a previous life. They fought various Batman-Inspired villains such as The Evil Bozo (where DO I come up with these brilliant names anyway?). He was a bendable Gumby-Like Bozo the Clown who had his arms torn off in some freak undisclosed accident. This once beloved circus clown was now engulfed by his hatred of the world. Quite the diabolical mastermind, lemme tell ya.

The point? Each and every one of them was as real as any flesh and blood person in my life. I could retreat myself into them and their plane of reality effortlessly. Some would say that action was a defense mechanism, that I was hiding from something and ignoring reality. I’m sure there is some truth to that notion—what 7 year old doesn’t get their reality and imagination mixed together? Looking back through my trusty Hind-Sight X-Ray Specs, I can “see” how my frolicking imagination was preparing me for my future, both at the drawing board and on the platform.

First is the unfaltering believability of it all. I didn’t think my toys were alive and real. I KNEW it. There wasn’t a doubt in my little, open mind of this. Do you remember your favorite childhood toy? Your doll, teddy bear or train were each a part of your posse. They were your peeps! They had your back! How many of us curled up with our favorite stuffed animal at night KNOWING we would be safe as we slumbered? Our toys were really our first experiences in having faith, the all-knowing sense that it “is”.

Second is the open unobstructed dialogue. I did not just talk FOR my toys, I talked TO them. They heard me and would speak with me in return. The Professor and crew had their own distinct voices and personalities so I could easily tell one from another. I knew how each would react to any given situation. I knew their strong points and weaknesses. I definitely knew one from another.

Finally, I would merely allow the adventure to unfold before me in whatever way it needed. I gave up control of the moment and allowed it to just be what it is. This simple act enables the enjoyment while eradicating the expectations. I discovered that relinquishing control is liberating. Quite the statement for an adult diagnosed as an Early On-Set Control Freak.

In cartooning, my truest love, I have to believe in the characters that I draw. In order for them to make sense to the reader, they MUST make sense to me. They. Are. Real. Then comes the dialogue between creator and character, then character to character, and ultimately character to reader. But, in order for the reader to “hear” them, the initial connection from the creator is an absolute must. In the end I simply let the cartoon draw itself. I may have an initial idea of where it SHOULD be going but, more times than not, I find it going in some other direction. The work always speaks loudly and comfortably on its very own when I allow that to happen.

Nearly verbatim, the same philosophies can be said about mediumship. I truly KNOW the connection is real. I trust The Creator and the connection within. Those in Spirit are as much alive as my toys of yore and my current creations sprawled crossways over Bristol. Once that initial realization is embraced, I latch myself onto the dialogue. Whether it is between me and a Spirit Guide or a “Deceased” Loved One, the exchange, in whatever form it is in, is vital. I allow them to speak their minds, their souls, as they “see” fit. And, finally, I just toss up my hands and do my best to release the control to “Upper Management”. I watch AND listen as it is merely played out.

A trail of breadcrumbs is sprinkled before us from the onset. There are times when the path is crystal freakin’ clear—but rarely. Most of the time it’s a blissful blur of wonder and (alleged) confusion. However, on those cool summer nights of reflection we are given the reward of reasoning. Out of the blue it suddenly makes sense. We finally find the reason ‘why’ dancing right in front of us in a well-choreographed Busby Berkley Extravaganza. “Now I understand,” you’ll say as a smile of knowing, of faith, spreads across your lips.

Make a point, when that AH-HA Moment strikes, to offer your appreciation to all parties involved. The medium and the cartoonist in me are certainly grateful to that imaginative little boy from not so long ago. His daring diversions cast a firm foundation through his misinterpreted monkey business. Through his unplanned playing, I was led to a life of wonder, joy and continual healing laughter. It is misunderstood by some but it has never been, nor will it ever be, misGUIDEd.

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The Professor & Crew join forces to battle The Evil Bozo one more time…

 

 Copyright © 2016, Charles A Filius, All Rights Reserved

November 21, 2015

Gabriel’s Return

GabeDanielleApplesI’ve easily read thousands of people over my years as a working medium. And, by sheer logic, I’ve connected with even more spirits. For the most part the souls I’ve encountered—both of the pulse-steady and pulse-impaired variety—have melted into one colossal blob. It’s nothing personal, I assure you. Seriously, do you remember each and every person, upright or not, that you encounter?

I always explain to my sitters that I rarely retain any information brought forth in a reading. It’s the difference between telling your own story as opposed to telling the tale of another. You recall the vivid details of your own life but only bits and pieces of the tale of another. Some highlights will stand out along the way. Something that strikes your funny bone, makes your stomach turn or even makes the hair on your neck stand on end, turn white and then fall out. Our lives are the Main Feature while everyone else’s is merely a pre-matinee trailer. I bet THAT realization makes you feel so gosh-darn special.

Don’t let this worry you. The vast majority of the ones I remember are because it’s something really funny, weird or, honestly, just plain stupid. What’s that? You want an example? Well, OK, if you insist…

I vividly recall a time when I informed a sitter, “Your father is here.”

She immediately jumped in feet first to correct me. “No, he’s not!” she exclaimed. “He’s dead!”

After a very well-timed pause, I said dryly, “How closely did you read my business card?” Trust me when I tell you she turned a shade of red that I will never forget.

I once connected with a man who passed tragically at only 50. He was engaged and already to start another chapter in his life as a married man. I felt a huge slam in my chest, the sign given to indicate a massive heart attack. I relayed this information to his fiancé. She exclaimed, “Oh, yes, he DID have a heart attack! He was sitting on the toilet and just fell over dead!”

I heard the Spirit say, “Oh, great. You had to tell him THAT, didn’t you?” At the end of the session he showed me an innocent looking item—I won’t say what—indicating it was something he loved and it meant a lot to him. I was clueless as to what he was really saying. She screamed, “Oh, my GOD! I can’t believe he’d bring THAT up!” She was laughing so hard I thought she was going to have her own coronary. The mysterious item in question, while a commonplace thing, is also slang for a very specific sex act. One, I then discovered, was a favorite in his repertoire. As she calmed herself down, her late fiancé said, “That’ll teach her to tell people I died taking a crap.” I’m not forgetting that one no matter how much I try.

So, as you can see, some stick out in my mind. There are also a few who make quite an impact on me. Not only on my career as a medium, but simply as a human being. They go beyond the call of duty to remind us of the strength of unconditional and unending love.

I have had those in Spirit assist me in readings for individuals they didn’t even know in life. They have helped the other spirits make a better connection with me. They have shown up to serve as an example of what another soul was truly about in their own life. In essence, I help them and they help me. And, of course, all connections originate from one place and for one purpose: Love.

Out of all of the Spirits I have happily encountered, I have to say that a man by the name of Gabriel has claimed a secure spot in the top five. Look up “determination” in Webster’s and you will likely find “See Gabriel” as the singular definition.

I first encountered Gabriel on a flight to Wisconsin in 2014. He literally stalked me across half the country, making his presence unmistakable time and time again. He kept piling it on until I finally found myself with his fiancé, Danielle, and her mother at one of my group demonstrations. I wrote about it all so others could absorb the experience and his powerful message. You can refresh your memory by clicking here to read it once again.

* * *

I am often directed by Spirit to purchase small trinkets and bring them to my group demonstrations. I never know who will receive the item. It is soul-ly up to “them”. I’m Spirit’s Vanna White. They turn on the light and I just reveal the letter. Fortunately, Spirit makes this very affordable by leading me to area Thrift Shops or homes of vacationing families who don’t bother turning on their security systems. They send me off on these little scavenger hunts in my hometown as well as cities and centers where I am traveling. I merely walk into the brick and mortar building and wander around until something strikes me. I am not sure how I know what to pick up. I can’t describe it any better than saying, “I just know.” I don’t get anything clairsentiently or clairvoyantly. It’s a feeling of all knowing that I personally refer to as “Clair-YuhHuh.”

My annual trek to Wisconsin has made me quite familiar with the Dime and Dollar Thrift Store, a fun little shop in Stevens Point. I know the lay of the land quite well now. If my cast-in-stone routine was any more predictable, the world would use it, and not the sun, to check their clocks. My normal route takes me through the glass door and passed the display case doubling as a checkout counter on the right. My first stop is a rack of bric-a-brac on the left. I circle it with the same dogged determination as I hover over a bin of chocolate pudding at any semi-respectful buffet.  Something will just grab my attention and I grab it in return. It’s almost as if it flashes at me, like one of those Instamatic Camera Cubes from the 70’s. I then circle off to the right to graze through any CD’s that have, for any range of reasons, found themselves there. Retreating to the back room, I swoop down on every book I can find strewn over a span of several mismatched bookshelves. Then I flip through a bin of LP’s just so I can feel really old. A walk on the wild geriatric side will bring you right back to earth whenever you’re feeling exceptionally good about yourself.

With the Bay City Rollers echoing in my head, I will meander through small electronics and kitchen accessories. Then I wrap everything up looking through a hodgepodge of tumblers and coffee mugs. I see everything from #1 TEACHER to DOLLYWOOD OR BUST spewing before me like a marquee on crack. I will then take my haul, no more than 2 or 3 items, and amble my way back to the checkout counter. A couple bucks later and I’m the temporary caretaker of the bounty until each is passed on to the intended recipient.

My latest sparing shopping spree, however, paid no attention to my well-crafted routine. Upon entering, I made an immediate sharp left and found myself immersed in a jungle of book bags, clothing and doilies. I was in foreign territory. Clothing? Really? If you know me then you know my sense of fashion makes no sense. I own two pairs of shoes for crying out loud. TWO. And I cannot, for the life of me, fathom why anyone would EVER need a third. I buy a pair of sneakers. I wear them every day so they last about a year and a few months. When they show their signs of wear-and-tear, I buy an identical pair to replace them. I own four denim long-sleeve shirts. They’re identical. Variety is not in my spice rack, lemme tell ya.

So, completely out of my element, wondering if I need a passport, I took a 360 degree view of my surroundings. I figured I was there for a reason so off I trudged into the sea of racks and hangers. Turning a corner, I spied a backpack on the floor leaning against a chrome set of shelves. This grabbed my attention because my own needs replacing. I picked it up and gave it a once-over. I placed it back on the floor while making a mental note to ponder the purchase prior to my departure.

I returned to my traditional pathway and, indeed, was lead to two items along the way. Remaining true to myself, I sought out the backpack once more. I placed my soon to be purchased items on a shelf in front of me, paying no attention to its contents, and turned my focus on the backpack once more. I picked it up and inspected it with more scrutiny. The bubble of my initial inspection burst with a deafening dose of disappointment within a few seconds. Holes, frayed straps and a cracked coating joined in a rousing harmonious chorus of the “Don’t Buy ‘Dis, Dufus” Boogie.

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I shrugged as I bent down to return it to the floor once again. In mid-bend I glanced up to see a stack of well-worn satchels staring me down. I dropped the backpack as my jaw fell open. My eyes widened as I remained frozen in the hunched over position. I then uttered the only thing an enlightened sort like myself can in a moment like this… “Well, son of a bitch.” Emblazoned in black marker across the side of a bag was the name GABRIEL. I straightened up and just laughed aloud. Of all the bags in the stack of 10 or more, only ONE had a name written on it.

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I knew Danielle was planning to attend my second group demo the next evening. I loved the fact that I already had a story for her. Sometimes Spirit just makes my job all the easier with stunts like this! I snapped a photo of the bag as I said, “Thanks, Gabe!” I then retrieved my other items from the shelf above my head. It was only then that I realized that I had placed them on top of a large crystal dish. Not just any dish, you know? It was in the shape of a heart. I picked it up and gazed into it, slack jawed. Then I heard Gabe say, in a most serious tone, “Give it to her with my love and my blessing.”

I shook my head in wonder. No matter how many times I experience moments like this, I am always blown away. There’s nothing routine about this! I nodded and said, “You got it, dude.” My California Surfer Guide sneaks out from time to time…

I take my responsibility to Spirit very seriously. Unlike many mediums, however, I manage to have a lot of fun with it. I gave Gabriel my word and that IS my bond. If my tongue happens to be firmly planted in my cheek while I carry out my welcomed obligation, then so be it. (Cue diabolical twirling of my mustache) Little did I know at the time, but I was going to have to really work a bit to pull this one off. I hate when They make me sweat.

Saturday came and went. The sold out demo was a rousing success. An evening of both healing laughter and tears brought everyone together. There was only one little hiccup in this otherwise perfect evening: Danielle was a no-show. I was quite perplexed, as was Gabriel, I’m sure. Danielle’s punctuality was never questioned. If she said she was going to be there, she was going to be there. She may burst through the door at the last second but, by Golly, she was THERE. But not this time. Once I returned to my lodging, I emailed her just to ensure all was well. The email went unanswered. So, I lugged her heart to my next group demonstration. Again, she didn’t show up. I drove to my home away from home, entered my room and was immediately greeted by Gabriel’s tell-tale cigarette smoke. “Dude,” I said aloud, “Get her here! I don’t know what to do!” The smoke dissipated and I finally calmed myself enough to catch some Z’s.

I took a couple of days off from my rigorous schedule to visit a dear (live) friend near Chicago. While there, I received an email from Danielle. Way to go, Gabe! Something came up at the last minute and she was unable to attend. She asked for info on my other appearances and events. She assured me that she would attend one of them.

Again, she was as visible as Big Foot. And, yes, I found myself accosted by cigarette smoke. Oh, joy. The dead are, if anything, determined…and dead. After my final group gathering, on November 3, I sent her a text asking if she could meet me for breakfast the next morning. I told her I only had one day left in town and it was imperative that I see her. I didn’t tell her, but I really didn’t want to continue my journey with this Pig-Pen cloud of smoke hovering over me the whole time. She promptly agreed to our getting together over syrup and powdered sugar at ten the next morning. I had reached the end of my patience with Gabriel’s second-world-second-hand smoke. I guess you can say I just couldn’t HACK it.

Ahem.

I snagged a table in the back of the South Point Restaurant. I love this local diner. You get a gluttonous mound of food nearly obliterating your plate from view for a price that makes you look for the Fonz in the corner. They’ve also dedicated an entire wall to the miracle of bacon. I’m on board with anyone who worships Meat Candy.

Danielle dashed in with her twinkling eyes and a smile that can make you forget ANYTHING has ever been wrong in this, or any, life. After a hug and a laugh, we scanned the menus and placed our orders (both of which would piss off any cardiologist worth their weight in lard). Once the formalities were cast aside, and I knew we wouldn’t be interrupted by a waitress hell-bent on refilling any and all containers on our table, I proceeded to the heart of the matter. I ran through the whole story. My trek to the Dime and Dollar, my diverted route inside, the backpack. Everything. Her doe-like eyes widened even more when I showed her the photo of Gabriel’s bag (I honestly didn’t think they COULD get any wider!). Then I saw the very same windows of her soul glisten slightly when I handed her the crystal heart. I didn’t permit my gaze to linger beyond a cursory glance. That was their moment, just between them.

GabeDanielle01aShe sat there, looking at it, running her fingers around the edge, retracing the shape in her own heart. Then she smiled. She looked up at me and said, “You have NO idea what this means.” She nodded her head slightly. “You see, I collect cut crystal exactly like this. And, in my whole collection, I don’t have anything like this one.” She held it up with her right hand and waved it slightly. “I understand the message, too. His telling me he gives his blessing…you see, I met someone. I met him ON Valentine’s Day.” She smiled again. “I’ve always said I knew Gabe sent him to me. It ALL makes sense.” She returned her smiling eyes to the crystal heart and, for a moment, to Gabriel. And I haven’t smelled his smoke since.

Again, we don’t die. And, logic tells us, that if WE don’t die then our love certainly can’t, either. For whatever reason, Gabriel chose me. He sought me out and entrusted me, of all people, to help him help his lady love. He has an open-door policy with me. This sort of access is my equivalent of joining the Five-Timer’s Club on SNL. He has joined the ranks of other Spirits that I hold near and dear. I’ve never met any of them in the physical but I sure feel like I know them now. Gabriel is now hobnobbing with Jason, Alex, David and, my forever #1 gal, Dana. They have all allowed me to observe such perfect examples of unending love and I am grateful beyond words. And I cannot think of a better time to acknowledge that gratitude as Thanksgiving approaches.

Take a moment to acknowledge the loves in your life, both here and there. They never leave us. As long as there is love there is that eternal connection. Send them your prayers, your gratitude, your hugs, your laughter, your high-fives. Express it in any way you want and it IS received with open arms and crystal hearts.

It’s an honor, Gabe. Truly an honor. And I thank you.

 

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