Pondering the Pavement

August 1, 2019

Soooo Over My Dead Body

“If life seems jolly rotten,
There’s something you’ve forgotten,
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.”

Monty Python

* * *

ClientSearch2

Cruising the obits for potential clients… it’s a never ending job!

When I finally admitted to the outside world—and myself—that I was a medium, I was a tad floored that a huge slice of the people I knew were anything but on board with it. Many thought I had finally lost it (Well, the joke is on them… I “lost it” long before disco was ever found). One friend of mine even told me she wouldn’t hesitate to commit me to a hospital in order to prevent me “…from hurting yourself or anyone else!” The joke has been lost on this one, too: I’m far too lazy to walk uphill, let alone bring harm into the mix. One of my biggest lack-of-supporters on this new pathway was, naturally, my mother. She kinda believed my mediumship abilities were sorta real…maybe. This didn’t faze me because, honestly, the woman never expressed approval on anything I did, thought or contemplated at any given mileage marker along my life’s turnpike. If she had been supportive of my mediumship, I probably would have stopped long before I started. I became a cartoonist solely because she told me I couldn’t. Wow. Yet another joke being lost on someone. One more and I’ll have to start posting them on milk cartons.

Mom had a set of friends—three cohabitating sisters—who happened to eat this mediumship stuff up with a spoon. When I was in West-By-God Virginia, I would make a point to visit The Sisters (with Mom in tow like a trash barge) for a good old-fashioned afternoon of chatting with their larger than life dead family (see what I did there?). Mom would sit at their kitchen table, gasping in astonishment, right along with the sisterly trio. Mom even received messages from some of her long-gone relatives (folks I never knew). She would validate each and every piece of info that came through to me from them. Then, on the tedious drive back to her home (which bore a thought-provoking resemblance to the Bates’ residence, sans the motel), she’d go on and on about how much I had embarrassed her “yet again.”

* * *

I was involved with the theater department while in college. I didn’t major in drama. Like my participation in my high school marching band, I just used it as an excuse to get out of the house. Oddly, it was my mother who tossed me the bone to get involved in theater in the first place. Irony can be so gooey, can’t it? Sorta like chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven: if you’re not careful, it just gets all over everything. She would attend the plays I was in, then dutifully tell me how glad she was that no one knew she was my mother. “You were the loudest one on that stage!” she’d say. “I’ve never been so humiliated!” It was as if she had just realized that I’ve never had a functioning volume control on my voice box. Well, I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not like she was ever the pointiest arrow in the quiver.

“Well,” I’d say matter-of-factly, “I bet the people in the back row were grateful they could hear me!”

“Don’t get smart with ME!” she’d exclaim in a voice that often rivaled the staccato sounds of an MG 81 (Today’s Fun Fact: that’s a machine gun used by the Luftwaffe).

“Why? Am I confusing you?” Her reaction to that comment was totally worth the next few hours of her non-stop banshee-like bitching, by the way.

* * *

As time waddled by, like a fat guy in a Hawaiian shirt circling the dessert buffet for the second time, my presence as a medium became more prominent. That’s when Mom started tapping franticly on the big ol’ panic button that not only existed, but lushly thrived, within her one-track mind. “Can any of my friends find you on the computer?” she’d ask.

“Sure,” I’d shrug. “If they looked. But why would any of your friends be typing my name into their search engine?” I’d then have to take 20-odd minutes to try to explain the term “search engine” to her.

“I just don’t want anyone to know what you do. What would they think?” Her brown eyes would stare me down with such intensity that I nearly burst into flames.

“I don’t know what to tell ya,” I’d say. “Just toss your hands up in the air and blame it on the fact that I’m adopted. Ya know, all that faulty DNA n’ shit.” For the record, I offered up that excuse to her far too many times in my life.

* * *

She once told me that if I became famous for anything (cartooning, mediumship, serial killer, Burger King Employee of the Month, etc.), she wanted me to change my name. “I don’t want anyone to know we’re related,” she’d say.

That’s pretty much how I felt throughout my formative school years, but I digress. “OK,” I replied. “I’ll change my professional name to “Mildred Filius’ Son.” Oddly she wasn’t amused. Go figure.

* * *

She’d then lecture me on how I needed to take this crisis seriously. Again, it’s as if she just didn’t know me. I do stand-up at funerals. How did she expect me to take anything seriously?

“What’s the big deal if someone you know discovers that I’m a medium?” I asked.

She’d thrust one of her crooked talons into my shoulder, emphasizing each word with its own individual poke. “They’ll—find—out—over—my—dead—body!”

* * *

Fast-forward a few years later to her funeral. I was positioned by her casket, greeting a surprisingly long line of—well, for lack of a better word—mourners. Admittedly, I was shocked at the size of the turnout. I assumed they were just wanting to make sure she was really dead, but that’s a theory for another time. One of her friends, a former neighbor named Marsha, greeted me with a hug (something I detest). I honestly couldn’t tell you how many decades had passed since I last saw Marsha. As Mrs. Parker reminds us, “Time doth flit; oh shit.” After Marsha spewed out the stereotypical “I’m so sorry for your loss” spiel (I managed to bite my lip, keeping my giggling under wraps), she said to me, “I hear that you’re a medium. Is that true?”

I’m sure my surprise speedily sprawled across my face like grape juice engulfing a sheet of Bounty, but I didn’t hesitate to say it was indeed true.

“That’s wonderful,” she said. “Do you suppose I could get a reading with you while you’re in town?”

Curiosity wrestled me to the mat in three counts, so I asked, “How on earth did you know I’m a medium?”

With a nonchalant wave of her hand, she explained, “Oh, Doris told me!” Doris was another former neighbor. Well, how about that? The word was out and dancing in the streets without a chaperone.

I told her I’d be happy to schedule something for her. She gave me her number and off she went. So, yea, I booked a reading for this woman literally over my mother’s dead body. Snort!

Is there a moral here? Some great lesson or sliver of wisdom to pass along? Something along the lines of a “always have someone you can count on in your corner” kinda deal? Oh, hell, no. It’s just a really funny story. Sometimes that’s all you ever really need to get through the rest.

* * *

Nikki Page: [leading a drunken Beckett out of a bar, while being followed] How do you lose a tail?

Maxwell Beckett: [tries to focus] Evolve?

(An exchange between
Jessica Lundy & Edward Woodward,
“Over My Dead Body”, 1991)

July 1, 2019

Self-Expression Mirrors Self-Reflection

Beautiful woman businesswoman in front of a mirror with a reflec

“Often we’re recreating what we think we’re supposed to be as human beings. What we’ve been told we’re supposed to be, instead of who we authentically are. The key about the creation of full self-expression is to be authentically who you are, to project that.”

– James Cromwell

 

* * *

 

I’ve never been a fan of astrology. It’s not that I don’t believe in the significance of it. I’m just not interested. It fries on the same back burner as UFOs, the Akashic Records, and salads. But I do have a legitimate interest in numerology. (Can a bastard can have a legitimate anything? Point to ponder…)

It’s weird that I would take a shining to numerology because I have always had a valid hate/hate relationship with math. If someone suggests I balance my checkbook, I get an uncontrollable urge to see how long I can perch it on the end of my nose. I’m convinced that algebra, like disco, is just a cruel, sick hoax that spiraled way outta control.

In the delightful world of numerology, I am a “six.” And being a “six” is all about self-expression. Nail meet head, right? I’ve never had a problem with expressing myself, much to the chagrin of some (that’s what makes it fun, don’cha know?). I’ve spewed my philosophies around all willy-nilly for the vast majority of my buy-in-bulk life. Since I speak fluent sarcasm, I’ve had no problem expressing myself verbally.

One of the top three compliments I’ve ever received (yes, I keep a running list of favorite things said about me…don’t you?), was when a longtime friend said, “Charles is completely capable of disemboweling you with his tongue and you’ll walk away laughing without even realizing you’re bleeding.” That quote is going on my headstone.

I also find a natural outlet on paper, both in drawing and writing. Sometimes, for the Woodsy Owl hoot, I’ll combine all three. I believe the phrase “the perfect storm” has been used a few times to accurately describe that delightful experience (anyone pick up on the sarcasm there?).

When my mother cashed in her chips a couple years ago, I was reminded of just how far back my flair for self-expression goes. She saved everything, from every grade school paper to receipts for furniture she purchased in the late 1940s (you never know when you’ll want to return a cedar chest).

When I flipped through the memories, I was reminded that I had a “habit” of drawing cartoons on all my mimeographed worksheets in elementary school. I’d rush through the test, turn the paper over, and start doodling. It was all pretty much the same theme: two jagged cliffs on either side of the paper. A bridge, now collapsed, had at one time connected the two precipices. There were jagged rocks and/or stalagmites jutting upward at the bottom of the great abyss. Once I had set the stage, I added countless hurling bodies falling to the rocks below. Then I’d cover the piece in multiple word balloons all screaming one word and one word only: HELP!

Self-expression that was, I assure you, totally ignored by the powers that be in the 1960s West-By-Gawd-Virginia Educational System. I enjoyed creating the scribbles (poor man’s therapy, I suppose). My teacher was annoyed with my perseverance of such a useless activity. Admittedly, her irritation was just a juicy cherry atop the whipped cream covered graphite sundae. I just drew what I felt needed to be drawn. And, in my mediumship, I say what needs to be said. I didn’t self-edit when I was a kid, and I certainly don’t do it now.

Show of hands… who’s shocked? Anyone?

One of my biggest belly-flops in the community pool of self-expression took place in 1976. I was a nerd who was fully immersed in Bicentennial Fever. (Woo Hoo! A timely Fourth of July theme!) I even managed to convince my family that we should travel to Philadelphia for our annual family vacation that summer. That’s the equivalent of starting your Christmas shopping around 9:30 p.m. on December 24th and expecting no one else to be at the mall.

CAF_BicentenialShirtI read any and all bicentennial themed literature I could get my hands on. I had t-shirts covered in images of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. I memorized the Presidents in order because I thought it would be “cool” (obviously, it wasn’t). If it had a 1776 theme then, by-gum-by-golly, I was interested in it. I was so unrelatable, the other nerds wouldn’t hang with me.

I thought I struck euphoric gold when Kellogg’s announced a bicentennial contest. They asked for drawings of any historic figure from the American Revolution eating a well-balanced breakfast. The meal, of course, had to include any of the sugary nuggets Kellogg’s offered at the time. If your drawing was selected, you would win a prize of — are you ready for this? — a $5 weekly allowance for a whole year! That’s right, I would get a whopping $260 over a 52-week period. I was stoked. How could I miss? This aspiring cartoonist was a friggin’ shoe-in!

I knew I had to think outside the box in order to get noticed. Everyone would be drawing the same historical figures: Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, et al. I had come up with someone more obscure. I needed a subject that would really show I had thought long and hard on the project. I racked my brain, stewing on it for days. Finally, as if clubbed over the head by the mallet of inspiration, I had it! A sure-fire attention grabber. Someone who would truly express my unique brand of creativity.

I chose Nathan Hale. Yup. You read that right. That Nathan Hale. The guy the Brits hanged for spying.

I drew Hale standing on the gallows, noose secured around his neck. Naturally, he was eating a bowl of cereal. The hooded executioner was standing off to the side holding a tray of bacon, eggs, and a big ol’ glass of OJ. As Hale held a spoonful of cereal to his open mouth, he said, “I only regret that I can eat but one breakfast for my country.”

Yuh-huh. I really did. And I was convinced that I would win. I was sure no one even came close to what I had created (and I’m sure I was right on that assumption). This may come as a shock to you—because it certainly was to me at the time—my cartoon was not selected. I guess I was just too far ahead of my own time. Ahem.

Looking back, I can honestly say I was never upset or angry that my entry wasn’t chosen as a winner. I was perfectly comfortable knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that I did my very best (keep in mind that “my best” is usually wedged somewhere between someone else’s “deranged” and “twisted”). I was true to myself. I trusted my instinct. The judges just weren’t ready for me. Yet.

I must admit, though, that I’ve found myself often wondering about all those unsuspecting souls sorting through the contest submissions all those years ago. Did they find my cartoon funny in a Not Suitable For Work kind of way? Or did they join in a communal prayer circle, thanking God Almighty that they were a (realistically) safe distance from a very fucked up kid over 400 miles away in West Virginia.

My instincts, for lack of a better term, tend to work in my favor. Sure, they usually take me around Gobbler’s Knob as the crow flies to get me where I need to be, but still, they work. It’s said that the journey is as important as the destination. And my journey is a vast array of odd souvenir stands populated with items stamped with the standard WISH YOU WERE HERE sentiment. Mine, however, usually end with a question mark.

WishYouWereHere_SQ_NewsletterThe toughest uphill battles in remaining true to myself are always the ones I’m the most comfortable with completing. If it’s a pain in my tuckus, then By-God, it’s the right choice. At the forefront of this list of self-making choices is my choice of the style of my mediumship. If you’ve seen me work, you know I am anything but cut from the cloth of the norm. I am not soft-spoken and gentle in my delivery. I am blunt, direct and I shoot from the hip (often grazing an innocent bystander or two in the process). And, more than anything, it’s all interwoven tightly with long strands of humor that ties it all together.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been chastised more than once for my style over the years. The judgments have come from both audiences and fellow mediums alike. Hell, I even had a spirit coming through in a reading complain about me! But, according to the sitter, her grandmother’s dislike for me was very fitting with the late woman’s personality. I didn’t take offense to it (I can’t be offended—it’s scientifically impossible), but it took me a couple years and several readings to accept how it all works for / through me.

Then, within the cozy confines of a relatively innocent conversation, my POV was changed out for a much stronger, brighter bulb.

See, there was a fellow reader I had personally dubbed, “The Chameleon Medium.” He had a knack of taking on the mannerisms, catchphrases, and overall working style of others in the field. He would even start dressing like other mediums! Like Disney and all their “live action” remakes, it would have killed him to do something original.

One evening, I found myself at a large social brouhaha jam packed with a slew of those New Age sorts. I was blessed to spend some time with Peter Close, a charming medium from the UK. I was working the refreshment stand (what kind of unreliable psychics put the fat guy in charge of the food?). Peter commented that I must have been a tavern’s barkeep in a past life since it came so naturally to me. I shrugged it off, explaining it was my love of carbohydrates that drove me to do my best. As we chatted, the Chameleon walked by, attempting to impress anyone who was willing to listen and watch. Peter looked at me, grinning, his eyes twinkled, and said, “That’s just not you, is it?”

I shook my head, chuckling. “No, it’s not.”

“Charles,” Peter emphasized in a capitalization and italicized sort of way, “You know what I mean?”

Well, I certainly did. And there’s been no turning back. In the early days, I’d hold readings where I’d just do them the way I thought I was supposed to give them. Lots of reserved commentary, quiet nodding, the usual lack-luster shebang. But I just couldn’t find my stride. Then I finally tossed the reins aside like an unwanted side dish of kale and let myself shine through in my natural, garish light. Ya know what? I find more and more embrace my delivery service with great enthusiasm. Time and time again I will hear how my off-the-wall style actually puts them at ease—especially with those who have never, until then, experienced mediumship.

One even said, “I personally think your style is unique and a refreshing… I’m so tired of watching mediums that all sound alike and seem to be following a formula. We need more mediums like YOU out there working.” Far be it from me to argue with that logic! The way I see it, those who come to me are led here for a reason. Either all parties involved will benefit greatly from the experience, or they must learn living a life as an easily offended wuss is just not an option (I may be lightly paraphrasing, but you get the idea).

What’s the moral of this story? Is there a moral? If I had to say so, it’s just a reminder that no matter how outlandish or seemingly ridiculous your self-expression may seem to others, you owe it to yourself to be true to it and to yourself.

Self-expression, like points of view or beliefs, change over time. Sometimes subtly, other times radically so. It’s all a part of living, growing, experiencing all that comes before you. One of the frequent messages I get from those on the other side are regrets that they didn’t allow themselves more flexibility in their own lives. Sorry that they remained so steadfast in beliefs that were nothing more than excuses to not trust their own heart, values, and instincts.

I was stoked about my Kellogg’s submission. However, now, I find it just bizarrely hysterical. Anyone who knows me would hear that story and immediately think, “Yup. That’s Charles.” And, despite the adoptee moniker, that’s who I’ve ever really tried to be: Charles.

My art and my writing are just like my mediumship: completely and totally mine. Just as your life should be built around being you. Be kind to yourself, and others. And be flexible. It’s OK to change and rearrange. Only make a point to be the one who instigates the change as well as the one who carries it out.

 

* * *

 

“OK, fine. But remember, “bee” yourself.”
– Genie (“Aladdin” 1992)

May 6, 2019

Don’t Wait! Celebrate, Commemorate, Elevate, Eat Cake!

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.”
– Plautus

Charles&Marjorie

Hanging with Marjorie, November, 2018.

My cousin, Marjorie, leaned forward in her long-familiar chair; her diminishing frame being dwarfed by her surroundings. She looked up at me over her glasses, giving me the impression of someone in contemplative thought. After a pause, she said, “Do you know what’s really strange?”

Of course, as a medium, I have a long-ass list of topics filling that roster. Resisting my urge to just spout off, “Top 10, alphabetical or just as they come to mind?” I just shook my head and said, “No. What?”

She sighed, “We’re the only ones left.” She glanced at a portrait of she and her late husband, George, longingly. He had passed away four months earlier, in July, after having been together for 71 years.

I nodded knowingly. “I was thinking about that on the way up here,” I said. Most of our holiday family gatherings were evenly distributed between the homes of my grandparents, my aunt & uncle and George & Marjorie. There was usually ten to a dozen people attending these obligatory soirées. My grandparents, great-grandma Harvey, my mom, Aunt Ruth & Uncle Bill, Uncle Frank & Aunt Bessie, Guy & Louise (Marjorie’s parents), and a few oddball stragglers from time to time—such as Marjorie’s Aunt Belva (who was nothing short of a sitcom waiting to happen) and a crotchety old spinster named Virginia (who burrowed her way under the family skin like a wood tick on a hound dog)—and, of course, this strange kid who had an unreasonable passion for shirts as garish as his inherited laugh.

And now the original cast had been whittled down to just two. It felt like the final season of M*A*S*H.

Our holiday meals were orchestrated with the precision of a well-choreographed assembly line. Everyone had their role, their positions marked as if part of a cable access broadcast. Most of the men would gather around a television. Football was the chosen sport for my Uncle Bill while my grandfather would immerse himself in any available baseball game. George would want to tune into anything from NASCAR to a local soapbox derby. Me? I’ve never had even the slightest interest in sports. I’d just withdraw deep into my happy place praying for a chance to ram an ice-pick into my brain. The women would all scurry into the kitchen, which was always too small to comfortably contain the growing populous of the gaggle of self-proclaimed cooks. They would all pitch in wherever needed. Marjorie, on the other hand, always had ONE task and ONE only: she made the mashed potatoes. No instant flakes for this woman. Oh, no, my friends. She peeled honest-to-God REAL potatoes. She had THE perfect blend of milk, butter, salt, pepper and a hint of what must have been either cocaine or the freshly ground bones of innocent kittens. I’ve never had mashed potatoes to match hers. NEVER.

I said, “It seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?”

She just nodded. “It really is strange to think about,” she reflected. “It’s like…” her voice trailed off as she brought her fingers to her temples. “Boom!” she exclaimed, her hands popping off to each side in an abrupt gesture.

I laughed, “You are just THE hippest 88-year-old around!”

She chuckled in her lady-like fashion, but the glint of mischievousness in her eyes twinkled oh-so-very-brightly. “You know,” she said, “My birthday is May 11th.”

I nodded, “I know.”

She sat up as straight as she could and proudly exclaimed, “I’ll be eighty-nine!” She emphasized the “nine” firmly.

I leaned toward her, my left elbow resting on my corresponding knee, as I pointed a finger at her. “I’ll tell you what,” I said matter-of-factly, “I’m going to come back for your birthday!” I held out my left hand palm up, “I’ll bring cake…” then did the same with my right, as I continued, “… AND ice cream!”

“Ohhh!” she exclaimed gleefully as her eyes widened with excitement.

“And you know what THAT means?” I said with my arms & hands still extended. “You’ll have to hold the door open for me because my hands will be full!”

She gave her head a firm, quick nod and said, “I can do that for cake!”

You go, Girl.

We both laughed, simultaneously leaning back into our respective seats. She grinned while looking down into her lap. Then she shot a look back up at me, her smile softening slightly, and added, “Well, if I’m still here.”

It pained me to hear the reality of the situation. But I glossed over it and interjected, “Hey, it’s CAKE I’m talkin’ about here! Surely you can hang around for cake!” As with her “nine”, I bitch-slapped the emphasis on “cake.”

She winked. “I’ll do my best,” she laughed.

Despite her best of determined intentions, she sadly missed the mark by nearly 3 months to the day. In the wee hours of February 12th, as I held her frail hand, Marjorie slipped away quietly to reunite with those who had ventured onward before us. And, I’m sure, they had an amazing spread just waiting for her when she arrived. Well, except for the mashed potatoes because that’s STILL her job!

“When someone asks if you’d like cake or pie, why not say you want cake AND pie?”
– Lisa Loeb

20190505_133728

In honor of Marjorie’s birthday, I am inviting anyone within the local area to join me for pie on Saturday, May 11th, at 11:30am. I’m limiting attendees to an even dozen to match our old family gatherings (and to ensure we don’t take over the restaurant!). Please RSVP to me privately (charles@extralargemedium.net) no later than 8pm, Friday, May 10th. It would really mean a lot to me, and Marjorie. PLUS, you get pie. It’s a win/win. Restaurant location will be provided once you RSVP. Thanks! ♥

October 4, 2018

A Clowning Achievement

“You see, this is my life! It always will be! Nothing else! Just us, and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!”

– Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), ‘Sunset Boulevard’

 

MOVIES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN MY SOLACE. I’ve retreated deeply into them for nearly as far back as I can remember. I could get sucked into those celluloid worlds projected on the screen effortlessly. All that surrounded me would be forgotten, at least temporarily, with an inaudible sigh of gratitude. The images flickering before my adolescent eyes were the equivalent of a crocheted sampler testifying to the sugary goodness of home.

Comedic Romps, live action and animated, were my favorites. No shock there. My grandmother introduced me to Laurel & Hardy before I started kindergarten. My mother opened my eyes to even more when she dragged me to see ‘Funny Girl’ at the local cinema one Saturday afternoon. I was only 7 so I wanted to stay home so I could play with my best (and only) friend at the time. Nope. She said I had to go. I was NOT happy. This was a movie about a girl…AND, if that wasn’t bad enough, the girl would be singing! Ick. If Godzilla or The Boys weren’t in the movie then I was NOT interested. A dinosaur destroying a city or two grown children donning matching bowlers were all it took to make me happy. Much to my own shock, I was totally enamored within the first 20 minutes of the movie. As Babs uttered her first words on screen, “Hello, Gorgeous!”, I was expressing the exact same sentiment to REAL film. My mother, without knowing it, had just created a monster.

Honestly, the only time Mom & I really got along was during a movie. An afternoon at the Eastland Theater was our Treaty of Versailles. To this day the wafting aroma of popcorn gives me the urge to scan the sky for a white flag fluttering in the breeze.

One of my absolute favorite distractions was Jerry Lewis. Of course, like many of my Jurassic era, my first introduction to his zany trademark of humor was through the brilliant teaming of Lewis with his partner in comedic crime, Dean Martin. I was enthralled by their physical antics paraded before my impressionable mind. As I aged, rapidly depreciating like a Yugo driven off a car lot, the bantering of Martin & Lewis captivated me as well. Of course, the duo split 5 years before my appearance this time around. But, thanks to TV syndication, I was able to catch up with all that I missed in a relatively short amount of time.

I took part in three neighborhood backyard carnivals for Muscular Dystrophy. The summers of 1974 through 1976 were pretty much devoted to pulling together the events. My friend, Jerry Neel, was the “Ringmaster” and I was the devoted Carny. I created all of the posters—duh—that were put in various shop windows around town. Jerry and I would walk to each and every store on Adams Street (the main thoroughfare through downtown) asking for donations of items to use as prizes for the carnivals. We were rarely refused. A different time, a different place, ya know? We incorporated many of the kids in the neighborhood to participate in any way possible. Our mom’s would make cupcakes for us to sell. It was quite the big to-do! And, at the end of it all, we’d receive official certificates acknowledging what we’d done. The certificate was emblazoned with a photo of both Jerry Lewis and our own local children’s show sponsor, Paul Shannon (from WTAE-4 in Pittsburgh). Their pre-printed signatures were even on it so you KNEW it was completely official! Our names would be TYPED on each individual’s certificate. Of course, MY last name was ALWAYS misspelled: FILLUS. Good God. So my mother would take the certificate to work and correct it on her typewriter. The problem was that the original misspelled name was in all CAPS and Mom would make the correction (to the last name) in an initial CAP followed by lowercase letters. So it read “CHARLES Filius.” Oh, yea, my OCD was SOOOOO cool with that…ahem. Either way, I was extremely proud of those little pieces of paper. And, yes, I still have them!

I diligently watched the 24-hour MDA telethons for many, MANY years. I not only found it “cool” to stay up into the wee-hours of the morning, but I was enraptured in the solitude it provided. Everyone else would eventually go to bed and just leave me the hell alone. I was in bliss. Of course, the single greatest memory I have of those all-nighters was in 1976 when Dean Martin stepped out on stage, surprising his former partner after a 20-year separation. I’ve always been a sucker for emotional reunion scenarios—it’s that whole adoptee thing—and this event has always been the one I dog-eared in my well-worn book of life’s experiences.

I’m sure you’re wondering by now just WHY I was such a fan (See? I really AM psychic!). My adoration of the genius of Jerry Lewis was sealed when I was about 8 or 9 years old. This was the time when I saw ‘The Family Jewels’ for the very first time. This movie tackled my life like a fat kid diving after the last piece of pizza on grandma’s Formica kitchen table. The film only takes up 108 minutes of linear time. However, it has played on a continuous loop in my heart & soul from day one. And it will continue to do so until there’s no more pizza left for me to covet.

WARNING! Mega spoilers are looming ahead. So, either stop reading right now, rent the movie and then return to the prose before you OR toss caution aside, like a plate of kale, and continue reading. Like a Nevada brothel, I like to offer a wide array of choices.

Here’s the rundown… A young heiress (the late Donna Butterworth in her debut screen performance) has just lost her parents in a tragic accident. Her father has left a provision in his will that she is, in the event of their deaths, to be raised by one of her uncles, all portrayed by Lewis. She is to spend some time with each uncle and then decide with whom she wishes to be raised. Who can’t relate to THAT situation? Her only companion throughout this massive undertaking is the family chauffeur, Willard (also played by Jerry Lewis). Each uncle is quite unique. They all possess eccentric personalities as well as outlandish outfits and make up to fully solidify the comedic enhancements of each. Willard, on the other hand, is about as normal as you can get. He is a bit clumsy and he tends to wear his shoes on the wrong feet. Other than that, he’s just a regular sweet guy. He clearly cares for Donna and vice-versa.

Her Uncle Eddie is a pilot. Uncle John is a sea captain. There’s also Uncle Bugs, a bungling 30’s-type gangster. Uncle Everett is a circus clown while Uncle Skylock is a world renowned private-eye. Rounding up this mob of misfits is Uncle Julius, a famous fashion photographer (Lewis uses his Nutty Professor character in this particular role). The only uncle she doesn’t interact with is the circus clown. As she is approaching his tent, her suitcase clutched in her orphaned hand (I suppose a handkerchief at the end of a stick wasn’t the best choice for an heiress), she overhears him talking to some of his fellow clowns. He tells them that he’s been stashing his paychecks into Swiss banks for years so he could one day leave the circus as well as the country. He makes a point to mention, a number of times, how he won’t be missing “those screaming brats” in the audience. Young Donna hears this and, while crestfallen, immediately realizes he certainly isn’t the father she wants or needs.

Wrapping up a slowly unraveling ribbon of words, the final scene takes place in the offices of her late father’s attorney. All of the uncles have come together (with the exception of Everett, the clown) to hear Donna’s final decision. She announces while she enjoyed meeting all of six of her uncles, she wants Willard to be her father. No shock there. A blindfolded man in a power grid outage could see that one barreling down the pike. The attorney slammed the brakes on her choice, of course, stating that The Will clearly dictates that it must be one of the uncles. Unhappy with this situation, she simply announces she’ll just run away (a tactic I use to this very day, especially when I’m stuck in line at the DMV). As she bolts toward the door, in an attempt to flee, it opens and Uncle Everett enters. He’s wearing dark slacks, a tan over coat and he’s wearing his full facial clown makeup. With a lit cigarette casually dangling in his right hand, he kind of resembles Emmett Kelly with a wise guy attitude. He says, “What’s your hurry, Sweetheart? You must be Donna. Aren’t you going to consider your dear Uncle Everett. I’d make a good father. C’mon, I’m in a hurry. I gotta make it back and do another show. Those little brats are waiting.” Donna looks him up and down for a quick second, grins and then announces that she has chosen her Uncle Everett to be her father. Of course, it’s Willard donning the pancake makeup. Donna knew it was Willard when she saw that he had his shoes, as always, on the wrong feet. And they lived happily ever after…

The reason this movie hit me so hard was the realization that a child found someone to take care of her, to love her and, more than anything, keep her from harm. I remember watching this on my grandparent’s RCA Color TV and fighting back tears. It was as if my heart was screaming to be released from its confinement in my rib cage. I grew up in a very dark home. Not the house, but the home. My mother was simply one of the meanest people I’ve ever had the misfortune of knowing. She danced back & forth over the line of cruelty with such frequency that she should have held dual citizenship in both heaven & hell. The constant berating, emotionally and physically, was the only constant I had growing up. I never knew when or why she’d strike but, I assure you, it would eventually get there. Sometimes I’d see it brewing off in the distance, like watching a thunderstorm slowly approaching across the plains of Indiana. Other times it would swing in with great force like Poe’s pendulum. It might not cut you on the first swing-by, but in the end, it will deeply wound. And all I could do was lay there, tied to the stone pedestal, watching it come closer and closer with rhythmic certainty. I did my best to ensure the eyes in the back of my head were as close to 20/20 as possible. My layers of survival relied on it. I was very adept at ducking on instinct. I guess you could say it was the initial training ground of my intuitive abilities.

I received a great gift as I sat basking in the warm glow of both the television and the movie: hope. For the first time in my life. For the first time I had hope that there was someone, somewhere, who would not want to hurt me. Someone who would want to love me, to care for me. The hope that my life would get better. This film, and the message wrapped within it, truly changed my life. I held a death grip on that hope every day, like an alcoholic clutching the bottle cap from the last beer they ever drank.

Is it any wonder I’m far more comfortable with the dead than the living?

I did not see that movie again until some 40 years later. Something was nagging me to see it again. If I’ve learned anything as a medium, it’s to do your best to address the nagging. Some call it “inspiration from Spirit.” I prefer to call it what it is: disembodied dead guys booting me in the head. I rented the film through Netflix and had a long overdue visit with an old cinematic friend. This time, however, it had an even greater impact on me. As a child, of course, the name of the “uncle” she chose meant nothing to me. But this time around it really shook me to my core. Everett was the name of my biological father. He was a man whose face had been hidden from me, as if covered in clown makeup, for the first 33 years of my life. He was loving and understanding and, like a true clown, one of THE funniest people I’ve ever known. He even died ON April Fool’s Day. You just have to admire his dedication to a great gag. So, at age 55, I sat once again in front of another RCA television (a flat screen this go-around) and cried my eyes out.

Yea. I’m a walking batch of Hallmark movies bundled together.

I decided I really needed to find a way to reach out to Jerry Lewis and share this story with him. I’d probably leave the whole “medium” thing out of it. Why amp up a communication from someone who may initially be regarded as a crazy fan at the onset, right? I wanted to simply thank him for helping a frightened young boy get through a time-old situation. I diligently searched the internet until I found what seemed like a valid address for his representation. I really decided to push the envelope and send him a piece of memorabilia for him to sign (return postage would be included, of course…I may be enthusiastic but I am also cost conscious!). I have an original lobby card for ‘The Family Jewels’ in my oddly grouped collection of odd-n-ends. I knew, on some level, that if the letter AND item actually reached him, there was a good chance I would not get a reply. Honestly, I didn’t really care. All I really wanted was for him to know he made an immeasurable difference in my life. I sent the intent and was hoping for the best.

20181003_202352Of course, this delightful plan of mine was thwarted when, on August 20, 2017, Jerry Lewis passed away. I know what you’re thinking: “Hey! It’ll be really easy to talk to him now!” Har-dee-har-har. You’re so funny. Sure, I can talk to him, but how can I get the autograph of a dead guy? I don’t think automatic writing would be valid, but I digress. What makes this particularly whimsical is that I heard of his passing on the car radio. Kelsey, my frequent cohort in varied ventures, and I had just parked the car in LA where we were going to see medium George Anderson. And, yes, I received my second earth-moving reading from him that day (no, Jerry Lewis did not come through). Interesting timing, don’cha think?

Hey, I tried, right? Since I could not thank him personally (or through the mail), I thanked him profusely through the ethers. As a medium I know, beyond any doubt, that he could hear me. And I’m totally good with that.

Flash forward to August 17, 2018, three days shy of the first anniversary of his passing. I received an email from the Hollywood Show store. They send out announcements of upcoming shows, festivals, even sales of memorabilia of old Hollywood. Yes, I’m THAT big of a nerd. But you should know that already. They had 300 previously owned autographed celebrity photos up for sale. They’d been accumulated from estate sales, other collectors, etc. I decided to browse through the items offered because it involved one of my favorite pastimes: sitting. For the highly sought ‘hoots & giggles’, I searched the collection for any photos already endorsed to ‘Charles’. How easy is that? Get a semi-personalized photo from a movie star without the hassle of prompting a restraining order. God, but I love the convenience of the internet! Out of 300 photos there was only ONE that had been inscribed to a ‘Charles’.

Yup. Jerry Lewis.JerryLewis

You don’t have to be psychic to know I purchased it immediately. So, yea, he heard me. The intent in my gratitude was received and noted. How’s THAT for hope realized?

If you take anything away from this missive, my friends, it’s this simple fact: your loved ones in Spirit hear you. While I always feel it’s best to say what needs to be said while they’re with us on this side of the veil, it is never too late to reach out. Take a moment and send out an ‘I love you’, ‘I miss you’ or even a genuine ‘thank you.’ It WILL be heard.

I hope this helps…

 

“I am probably the most selfish man you will ever meet in your life.
No one gets the satisfaction or the joy that I get
out of seeing kids realize there is hope.”

– Jerry Lewis

 

July 15, 2018

By George, Writing IS Cathartic

Filed under: Family Memories,In Memoriam,RIP,Uncategorized — cfilius @ 4:22 am

I lost one of the great ones this morning. George is my mother’s first cousin, 3 years her junior. They, along with my Mom’s big sister, Ruth, were inseparable growing up. This same connection carried on through adulthood. Mom and Aunt Ruth always referred to him the brother they never had. When they’d bring this up, George would respond with, “If I was your little brother WHY did you put me in a dress and drag me around the neighborhood in a wagon?” Then everyone would howl with laughter.

He worked in West Virginia coal mines “back in the day”. He worked in a furniture store. And wherever he worked he always advanced up the ranks. If there was a job to be had, George would get it. The depression didn’t stop him. His father abandoned the family when he was just a small boy. He knew he had to help his mother and grandmother earn money to “keep the family going”, as he always said. He honestly didn’t know the meaning of the words “no” or “can’t”. In 1969, he bought a Chrysler dealership in a tiny West Virginia town that didn’t even have a daily newspaper. His mother’s brother, Charlie, thought he was nuts for doing that. “You’ll never make a go of it!” he said. (Our Uncle Charlie was just a a pound shy of a pound of sunshine let me tell ya…)

George made more than “a go of it.” He was a top seller in the Chrysler corporation for many years. From the time he bought the business, in 1969, until he retired 25 years later, he was awarded several trips, Cancun & Las Vegas among many, by the corporation. He would be traveling with people who owned huge dealerships in large cities. Dealerships that employed several sales people. George, on the other hand, had one salesman: himself. He had a gift of gab, this man. He could sell ice to an Eskimo and condoms to the Pope. Being the unassuming man that he was, he always credited his customers with being his sales team. “Treat people right and they’ll tell everybody.” He was right.

He and his wife were inducted into the West Virginia Motorsports Hall Of Fame in 2017. George & Marjorie were forces to be reckoned with in the early days of car racing in West Virginia. I would visit them as a small child and see SO many trophies throughout the house. At that age I had NO idea they raced cars. All I knew was that my cousin had a boatload of trophies and plaques. I had NO inkling of what they did but it was obviously something REALLY cool! As I grew older, he would share drag racing stories with me. I would just sit and listen in total awe. This conservative man had been hell on wheels and he hung out with the likes of Richard Petty. You’d never know it unless you asked. He was humble. He was kind. He was understanding. He was intelligent. He was generous. He was all of those things, and much more. But more than anything, he IS loved.

He was also wickedly funny. Whenever I’d visit he’d say to his wife of over 70 years, “Margie! What have I told you about keeping that door locked!” or “Margie! Just slip him a few pennies through the door. Don’t let him in because he’ll think we’re gonna feed him!”

I would usually reply with, “That’s why I come here, George. For the respect. I haven’t received it yet but I keep hoping.”

He’d nod his head and say, “You’ve got a loooong wait, Charlie.” Then we’d just burst out laughing. By George, I’m gonna miss the laughs… and him. But, thank God, I had him in my life for 57 years. RIP.

GeorgeMontage100

 

 

May 16, 2018

A Fun Walk, A Short Tear

walkinsSomeone sent this little ditty to me early this morning. I’m sure my neighbors really appreciated my garish laugh echoing throughout the apartment building at 4am. I feel we’re even since their dog wakes me up scampering across their wooden floor every morning (trim your dog’s nails for cryin’ out loud!).

I find this random tweet hysterically funny because it reminds me of one of the last fairly coherent conversations I had with my mother a few days prior to her passing last year. She was being visited by one of her distant cousins (by some kind of marriage, twice removed and with a side of slaw). The pseudo-relative’s personality makes Melba Toast seem like one spicy meatball, lemme tell ya.

Out of the blue my mother asked, “When are they taking me to the cemetery?”

Cousin Blasé Bland’s eyes widened as her head jerked back. Admittedly, I did a double take. I didn’t see that one coming (psychic boy that I am). “What did you say?” I asked. Don’t get me wrong, I heard her question quite clearly. I just wanted to see the cousin’s impression of a bobble head one more time.

Mom calmly said, “The cemetery. When will they take me there?”

“Soon,” I said softly. “It will be soon.”

DaCuz shot me a glance that just screamed, “STOP TALKING THAT WAY!” If reality were a cigarette, she would have been stomping it out with her boot.  Mom and I had “the talk” some time earlier. She knew she was dying. This was not a time for secrets.

Mom asked simply, “Tomorrow?”

“C’mon, Mom,” I replied automatically, “you have to meet us halfway. You have to die first.”

I honestly thought the pseudo-relative was going to implode onto herself. Her mouth gaped open, swaying in the wind of mom’s oxygen machine. Her glazed eyes mirrored those of Kimba the White Lion.

Mom, however, chuckled from the confines of her bed. After a well-timed pause (because timing IS everything), she said matter-of-factly, “I bet I could get a discount if I walked in myself.”

I burst out laughing, as is my custom. The Quasi-Cousin was horrifyingly appalled. Win/Win in my opinion. After the woman hurriedly left (within 5 minutes–she honestly couldn’t get out fast enough), Mom whispered, “Some people just don’t have a sense of humor, do they?”

I’ve said it many times before and I know I will utter these words many more times down the road (even from the other side, I’m sure): “Life IS the ultimate joke and the Dead ‘get it’.” Share the smiles, folks. It’s what helps keep us alive…

Here AND “There.”

April 1, 2018

Reasons Resonate

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 4:44 am

My thoughts have been with my grandmother for the past few days. I’ve always blamed her for being the catalyst behind my meanderings with the other side. My first recognized premonition (by me, anyway) was of her upcoming passing. I didn’t realize it at the time. It was just a seemingly random thought. On a Thursday night, like any other, I glanced around the living room at my grandparents and mother and thought oh-so-nonchalantly, “I wonder what it would be like around here if one of them died?” Within 24 hours my grandmother would be killed in a freak car accident.

A few months after her physical passing I began realizing she may have been dead but she sure wasn’t “gone”. Not by a long shot. I would wake up in the middle of the night to see her staring at me from the foot of my bed. She didn’t speak—she just stared. Then she’d disappear. I would hear her laugh—a genuinely disturbing cackle that would make Margaret Hamilton green with envy (see what I did there?). I would hear her calling out my name from her bedroom at the end of the hall. She was opening doors, moving objects. And I was the only one privy to her activity. Lucky me.

I had a lamp on the wall above my bed. I would often read before going to sleep. Many times I would fall asleep reading. I would then be harshly awakened by my mother screaming at me from the top of her very powerful lungs. She would spew an insane, rambling lecture on how much money I was wasting by having that 40 watt bulb burn throughout the night. We were surely headed to financial ruin for my wasteful ways. Then there would be a lecture on how her entire family lived by one lone candle during the 1920’s. So, one night, when Mom was out late at some meeting, I was curled up reading a riveting paperback documenting the all-too-real adventures of The Partridge Family at a haunted inn. And, shocking as it may seem, I fell asleep. I was jerked awake—literally—when “someone” grabbed my ankle and pulled my leg harshly. My grandfather was downstairs and Mom still wasn’t home. So, thanks to my grandmother, I was spared another Depression Era Lecture. She got far more exercise in the afterlife than she ever saw here.

March 30, 1973, started out normally in my abnormal household. The meat of the sandwich of the day has faded from memory but the bread holding it together on either end is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. Mom and I were about to embark on our routine daily venture: she would drive me to school (God forbid I be out of her sight for anymore than necessary) then she would head on to her bean-counting position in a company across town. A job, I believe, she had held since the Lincoln Administration.

I buttoned up my winter coat as my mother was clumsily slipping on her galoshes. The weather wasn’t unusually cold nor had it been raining. She was just being her normally suspicious self. “You never know when it may freeze,” she’d say to anyone within earshot of her rambling paranoia. This always bothered me whenever she’d spout it off in mid-July. As mom started to open the front door, my grandmother hollered down to us from the upstairs hallway. “What’s for breakfast?” she asked.

“Eggs!” Mom answered. “How do you want them? Sunny side up?” She howled with delight as she said it. I stared at her blankly. I probably rolled my eyes but I can’t swear to it. I did that a lot at that age. It was a Pavlovian response: mom’s mouth moved, my eyes rolled.

“No,” my grandmother replied. “I want them rainy-side down!” I laughed at that one. It was too absurd to not offer up a guffaw or two. What makes it stick with me after 45 years is that those were the last words I ever heard my grandmother utter in the physical. It’s just fitting that my last memory of her is connected to a really bad joke. Synchronicity at its best.

notebookLast year, after my mother finally died, I had the daunting task of clearing out the house of a woman who saved everything from receipts for furniture we haven’t owned in over 30 years to her own virginity. Among the many pieces yearning to be in their own small town car-port Smithsonian, I found a small spiral bound notebook that had belonged to my grandmother. It had been among the things she had in her purse at the time of the fatal crash. Scrawled in her familiar hand on the 3rd page were these words: “For Ever Helping Others.” Nothing else. Just that one lone sentence. I have no idea why she had this bit of philosophy with her at the time of her passing. I don’t even know why she wrote it. But there it was, all the same, with no official rhyme or reason. But it sure resonates, lemme tell ya.

She is the one who dropped kicked me on my path in the very beginning. And, after all these years, she’s still driving the point home. She was one tenacious old lady, let me tell ya. And there’s no reason for me to believe she’d change now.

Rest in Peace, Mamaw. And thanks.

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

 

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.

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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.

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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

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