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Freddie Mercury, Lead Singer of Queen, Rocks On

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FREDDIE MERCURY OF QUEEN — IN THE SPIRIT!

Because I’ve had a number of requests for the story about my spirit contact with Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, I decided to finally talk about it. I didn’t know if I was supposed to say anything or not, because I was phone tested by the people who tested John Edward in Arizona, and so I never revealed it except to my friend, Julie. However, Julie did let some other people know, and so……with persistent nudging, I am finally going to tell you about my mediumship communication with Freddie Mercury.

I had a correspondence with Dr. Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona, Tucson, a couple of years ago. As a result, he had Laurie Campbell, his director of mediumship, call me to test me over the phone. I had never done a phone reading at that point, and I was very nervous!! When Laurie called me about 8:00 p.m. one evening, I was sweating. I had no idea if a phone reading was even possible for me!

Laurie was so sweet, kind and reassuring, that I felt much more relaxed. She told me to just relax and let myself go. (Easier said than done, I might add!) So, sitting outside in my front yard in the evening’s summer warmth, I began to focus. As some of what came through was personal, I won’t discuss it, as I don’t know if Laurie would want me to talk about it, so I am only going to relate the experience with Freddie.

At the time, I didn’t get names, so it was strange to try to describe all these people. However, Laurie seemed to know who I was talking about, and it helped me to continue. After about an hour, I really had to go to the bathroom (!), so I told Laurie I had to run into the house and would be right out. A few minutes later, I returned to the yard, and now it was much colder outside. I grabbed a blanket to put over my shivering knees. As I did, my lap suddenly became burning hot!! I couldn’t figure out why it was so hot!

As I sat there, I said to Laurie, “My lap is really burning up!” She told me, “That’s because someone is sitting on your lap!” I was like, “Whaaaat?” Laurie asked me to relax and to focus – to try to “see” who was there. As she directed me, I suddenly noticed a young man standing in front of me – and my lap no longer burned! I looked at him, and he seemed to be around 5’10” (I’m very short, so it’s hard for me to figure out heights – EVERYONE seems tall to me!). Anyway, I kept observing him and Laurie asked me to describe him. I did.

He was tall, with chin-length black hair. He would switch in my vision as having facial hair and then not. At one point he even had a mask on. The dark-haired man was so flamboyant – dancing for me, wearing long black leather boots with thick heels. He had leather on – and then not – his outfit would change before my eyes. Oh, the theatrical flair he had! Such life!! I began to hear from him about South America and Spain. I knew he was in theatre or music, only I had NO idea WHO he was!! You see, I had never seen Queen on video or in concert, nor did I actually know what music they sang. So, I was at a loss as to who this young flamboyantly theatrical man was.

I pleaded with Laurie, “Who IS he??!” She then explained it was Freddie Mercury of Queen. She said he had been coming to her for a few years. And, I guess, he also visited with other mediums when she was around. Then….she told me that a little known fact about Freddie was that he had recorded in South America and Spain shortly before his death. How I “heard” that, I don’t know.

Well, after the reading (which I “passed”) I was, obviously, very intrigued and went to the video store to rent a Queen video. I just had to see who Freddie was. For some reason, I thought he was a guitarist. Watching the video I focused on the guitarist. Gosh, he didn’t look anything like the man I had seen. The only person on the video who looked like who I saw was the lead singer. But I swore I thought he was the guitarist. I was very frustrated. I thought I must have been hallucinating. In exasperation, I did an internet search…..and lo and behold…..there was Freddie – the lead singer – full photo – on the page gazing back at me! I couldn’t believe it – it WAS him!!

So, you see, Freddie Mercury is still out there singing, dancing and teasing people – having a grand ol’ time! Freddie Mercury lives on…. let it be known….he will, he will rock you!!!

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Can You Feel a Spirit TOUCH You? The Impact of the Shared Necklace


Sunset Psychic Medium Sharon Tenney and David Maze

Can you feel a spirit TOUCH you? Can a spirit communicate in such a way that you actually KNOW it is touching you? For me, the answer is “yes!”

I want to tell you about a young man, a teenaged boy, who came to me during a reading I was giving to someone he was not related to. Sometimes, I’m just as shocked as everyone else when something quite extraordinary happens with spirits. This teenager REALLY wanted to push his way through – and he did!

This young man appeared to me over a year ago, while I was giving a reading for the woman who had notarized some of my readings. She became curious after people kept coming to her to have their affidavits of accuracy about their readings notarized. (I feel it is important when a reading is very accurate to have it notarized, if possible, so that others will know that there is validity to mediumship.)

While I was sitting with Betty, the notary, I was tuned into one of her relatives. Suddenly, I felt a “WHACK!!” across the back of my neck! My body thrust forward as I was pushed and whacked across the head! “Whoa,” I thought! “Someone is trying to break through!”

With that, a young man appeared to me. I told Betty that I had just been hit over the back of the head by this man, and he, obviously, wanted to get through, so I had to see what he wanted. I began to describe him: Tall, sandy hair, happy-go-lucky, and he insisted that I listen to him. I asked if she knew who he might be. At first she didn’t know. Then I started to receive information about his death: the curved road, the trees, the crash. I asked if she had ANY idea WHO this kid was???!

Finally, Betty said, “I think I know who it is. It’s David.” I asked who David was and why he would be here with her. She said that she couldn’t think of why he would be here, except that he dated her niece, and that she was his girlfriend. That was the only connection she had with him. She then told me about the car crash he was in three weeks after high school graduation. The crash on the country road in the middle of the redwoods. And I knew then that the impact I felt across the back of my neck was a simulation of the impact in the car crash.

David was quite animated! Quite a lively, and fun guy. He then began to show me his “girlfriend.” I expected that I was describing her niece. But…no. It was a girl much different in appearance, Betty told me. This girl was blonde; her niece was quite dark. He then showed me an engagement ring in regard to this blonde-haired girl. I assumed that he meant that he was serious enough to marry her. Betty was insistent that it was her NIECE who was his girlfriend when he died. But David kept insisting it was the blonde! It was funny how the spirit of David and Betty, the notary, were, basically, arguing with each other! Finally, Betty actually admitted that although he was still friends with her niece, that just before he died, he HAD started to date….the blonde!

I asked if Betty knew David’s mother, so that she might contact her for him. Betty said she really didn’t know her. I was stumped. I didn’t know what to do – David was trying VERY hard to break through and to communicate – he actually managed to have me FEEL his TOUCH! That IS unusual! However, I did not feel comfortable calling his mother and telling her he had come to me – I had no idea what she would think, I didn’t know this family, and this was the first time I had heard of this car accident. So, I let it go.

Several weeks later, I had a group reading at my house. About 10 people attended. As I was about to begin the group mediumship session, I explained that sometimes people who we are not expecting, or even don’t know, could show up. Then I began to tell them about David Maze and how his spirit had literally hit me across the back of my head.

At the end of the group session, one of the women whose daughter had clearly come through, approached me. She said that she was about to interrupt me when I began to talk about David, but didn’t. After her participation in the group mediumship session, she felt compelled to tell me – she knew David’s mother!! She asked if she might call his mother and tell her about him. Of course, I said “yes.”

It was about a week later when David’s mother showed up at my door for her reading. She was a lovely woman, wearing a long, flowing skirt, with long hair to match. I could see why David was so handsome.

As we went through the reading, David insisted that I practically relive all the different scenes from his short life. At one point, I told David that I needed to have “evidence.” I asked him to please quit reminiscing, and to please give me something to show his mother definitively that it was him.

At that point, David appeared about 10 feet from me dangling a gold chain. I could see from the distance that it looked like a locket, and was elongated in shape. He kept telling me that it was “shared” between him and his mother. It went from her, to him, from him to her, from her to him. I was very confused. I had no idea how it could be a “shared necklace.” So, I told her what he was telling and showing me.

At the end of the reading she said to me, “Would you like to see the necklace?” And she pulled a gold chain from inside her clothing. It was oval in shape and gold. It had been given to her after his death by her former employer. I still was wondering to myself how it was “shared.” Then she opened the locket….and inside were locks of her son’s hair! Certainly, a “shared necklace!”

So, you see, the dead CAN communicate with us! David clearly wanted to contact his family, and I was available. His determined pushing and knocking me across the head so that I was thrust forward with the impact, certainly made an impact on me!

The spirit of youth, the spirit of life, and the spirit of David, are all one. “Thank you, David, for knocking that into my head!”

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Animal Spirits and Psychic Communication

Cali Kitty

“Heaven goes by favour. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

– Mark Twain

I’ve often been asked if pets appear in readings or as spirits. Yes to both. It’s only natural that we would want to know more about our beloved animals on the other side.

Although the loss of a pet brings great grief, just as with our beloved humans, we sometimes wonder if another species has the capability of either surviving death or having the ability to communicate. I have seen animal spirits come in with other friends and family members during a reading. It’s actually not uncommon to see them, and they actually can break through to this side.

Let me just relate an example here of this. First, those of you who know me, know that I am very down-to-earth. I’m not your typical New Age, believe everything a crystal tells you or only magic is the cure, everything has a psychic meaning, person. Quite frankly, I’m hard to convince – which is why I relate my own experiences because at least I know I personally experienced them and feel better about assessing them.

“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”

– Woodrow Wilson

So, when a woman named Barbara came to me wanting to connect with her beloved dog, honestly, I couldn’t just say “yes,” and do it. Now, this woman is married to a prominent political figure. She had heard about me via the “grapevine.” I agreed to read for her, but……I did put a qualification on it. I told her that I could not just read to try to reach her dog. I insisted, actually for my own validity, that I had to read her to see about “real” people who had passed first.

Honestly, I could have just told her anything about a dog and she probably would have believed me. Let’s face it, how many things does a dog do anyway? They eat, sleep, get their bellies scratched, bark, woof, woof; eat sleep, get their bellies scratched, bark, woof, woof; eat, sleep, get their bellies scratched, bark, woof, woof. Get the point?

“Man is a dog’s idea of what God should be.”

– Holbrook Jackson

To make sure that I actually was getting her dog, I truly felt that ethically I had to try to get in contact with other humans who had passed. I think Barbara was a little surprised that I insisted on this method of contacting her dog, but I felt it very important. Thus began our reading.

There were a number of people who came through during her reading. Once in awhile, I find myself going very deep – maybe it is some trance-type state, I don’t know – and when I do that, first, I’m not aware of it, and second, I don’t remember what I’ve said. It is pretty rare for me, but occasionally it does happen. Well, this time it happened, too.

As I sat there with her, knowing she was longing for her dog, I do remember talking about her mother’s sister, or her aunt. That’s the last I remember of what I said. Suddenly, I “came to” and there she was sitting there with her jaw dropped and exclaiming, “But no one knew about that – not even my husband!” (Her family lives in a different state.) I asked her what she was talking about – I just remembered her aunt. She excitedly said, “You said to me….’She killed herself, she shot herself.’ But no one knew – it’s been a family secret!!”

Well, admittedly, even I was surprised – and a little shook up – I don’t like falling into a state of consciousness (or unconsciousness, as it may be) and not remembering what I’m saying. But, the revelation of this family secret was also the most important validation she could have been given!

After that, I was comfortably able to bring through her dog which had been mercifully put to sleep and Barbara felt awful about. But the dog appeared, no longer limping, in pain or old, carrying a bone with a pink ribbon tied in a bow around it and dropped it at her feet. His way of saying, “You gave me the gift of graceful relief, and it was my time to go. I love you.”

Many of us have lost our loving pets – I’ve lost more than my share, as I am a great animal lover – and the pain we feel which can linger for many years, can at least be minimized, even for a few minutes, when our beloved pet returns in spirit to say “Hello.”

Love your pets, treat them with respect and care. They are God’s gift of unconditional love to us. And just know, that although we miss them, that they still love us and are there.

“Recollect that the Almighty, who gave the dog to be companion of our pleasures and our toils, hath invested him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit.”

– Sir Walter Scott

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Son Sends Messages To His Mother, Father and….a third unexpected person! Through THREE Different People!

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UPDATE:  This boy came through a THIRD time recently!!!!  I am inserting the THIRD time I encountered him within this post.  I will highlight the latest sighting of him.  Truly amazing!!!

I had a VERY serendipitous reading a couple of weeks ago. Again, regarding confidentiality, I will not reveal the actual names of the individuals who came for these readings.

To be honest, I think that I was just as surprised as both people who came for the readings, as they were.

Two women came to me, one I will call Alice, and the other I will call Karen. Neither, apparently, knew that the other was also seeing me – two days apart!

Interestingly, each woman had a bit of trepidation about finding a “psychic medium” off of a website. However, on my website, I do have a lot of notarized affidavits of accuracy to assure people that it is definitely possible to get clear, concise and accurate information about their loved ones.

The first day, Alice arrived. She seemed a bit unsettled, told me that friends had advised her against going to someone she found on a website, and I empathized with her because I am sure I would have felt the same way. I served some tea and we relaxed and chatted a bit before the reading.

As we got into the reading (I do fall into a trance state), people (spirits) began to come in to give messages. She received messages from several close relatives, including information that I could not have known before.

At the end of the reading (my readings often go on for much over an hour), Alice asked me if she could request one more person whom she had hoped to see. I did not see this individual, so I asked only for a first name: Matt. I closed my eyes and asked for Matt to show up. Suddenly, this teenager came through and was bouncing all over the place! He was so delighted to have gotten through! Alice had told me how he had died in a tragic accident, but Matt gave me more confirmation. He then said to “Tell my dad that I DID get a job! I am mentoring children over here.” Matt had been a skateboarder and now he was working with spirit children. He was very animated, very physically fit, very happy, and he was delightful to meet.

I asked Alice if she knew his parents, so that she could relay this information to them – she said she knew the mother. So, I please asked her to let her know the additional information he had given me, and to have her understand that he was ecstatic to be able to find a way to get a message to his mom. Afterwards, Alice told me that it was an on-going challenge to get Matt to obtain a job. When he said to tell his dad he had gotten a job, she recognized that immediately, and it was great confirmation.

Then Alice left, and she did receive other confirmation about other relatives and loved ones on The Other Side.

That was very interesting, however, something even more interesting happened. TWO days later, another woman I will call Karen came to me for a reading. Like Alice, she had also found me on my website. Again, a bit of trepidation at finding someone like this on a website (however, those who knew me before I retired had urged me to put up a site because they had experience with me and felt it would be a disservice to not offer my skill to others). So, Karen, came and she also received validation about relatives, and those on the other side. At the end of the reading she asked me if she could request one more spirit. Of course, I said she could. I asked her for just the first name (I rarely ask for any last name). She said, “Matt.”

Well, to say I was shocked is an understatement! Suddenly, in bounded Matt from two days before who had come in with Alice!! I immediately recognized him and was so stunned and shocked, that it actually took me out of my trance! I just could not believe that within two days Matt had shown up again! I gave details that had been given through Alice to Karen and Karen acknowledged that, indeed, it was the same Matt who had died the same way. Ironically, Matt also told this woman to tell his father that he had “gotten a job.” (Apparently, this was a big family issue with him finding a job.)

I was so taken aback that I asked Karen if she knew this woman, Alice. She said that she did, however they did not talk. Karen was a close friend of Matt’s father; Alice was a close friend of Matt’s mother.

UPDATED SIGHTING OF MATT FOR THE THIRD TIME!!!

On Halloween of October, 2014, I was asked to give a group reading at a wonderful person’s home.  It was a festive celebration with all kinds of goodies, food, decorations and a lovely ambiance.  There were about eight people who wanted readings. 

Before I started the group, I asked if I could sit for a few minutes in the bedroom to just relax (I tend to get nervous before doing a group).  As I sat there, I suddenly saw MATT again!  But this time I figured I was hallucinating because I was actually in Aptos, the town he was from.  So, I let it go.  I mean, what were the odds that he’d show up yet again??  (Apparently, pretty high odds!)

As I went around the room from person to person, I found myself in front of two people, one a man and one a woman.  I moved to the woman, but felt pulled back toward the man.  I saw Matt again.  I kept moving between them, and I finally said that I had a boy who was a skateboarder and who had died.  The man spoke up and said, “I think it’s for me.” 

I was shocked.  This man knew Matt.  So, I began to read for him, and, sure enough, it was Matt!  At the end of the reading, I asked why Matt would be coming to him, since he had already reached both his mother and father.  The man looked at me, and said:  “I am the step-father!”  WHOA!! 

Matt’s step-father pulled out a packet of photos of Matt.  And then, for the very first time I was able to see what Matt looked like — and he looked just as I had seen him in spirit!  My mind was blown.  There he was with his beloved skateboard.  I couldn’t believe it!  THREE times he had gotten through to those most important people to him and relayed his message of love. 

What was so amazing to me was that – and I do believe this – Matt had created these sessions on a spiritual level to influence both Alice and Karen to contact me — and now his step-father.  Both women “felt” the urge to contact me through my site. His step-father had serendipitously (serendipity is truly marvelous) joined this group reading.  Now, Matt must have known I was a genuine medium, otherwise I doubt if he would have directed me to all THREE of these people who were important to him.

Thus, although Matt’s parents were not together, he DID find a way through his parents’ friends to get a message through to both of them that he is doing just fine over there — AND also has a job!  And then, his step-father personally came and got Matt’s message!  WOW!  Even I was stunned!  But it was very cool to see what Matt looked like and that he was, indeed, whom I saw!

There have been times that I have seen the same spirit on other occasions. For some reason, I just did not expect this to be one of those times. As far as I knew neither woman knew each other, and I thought I was just doing a traditional reading. But when Matt shockingly bounded in through BOTH of their readings, with the same appearance and same message, I was stunned. THEN to top it off, he came through almost two years later to his step-father!

So, you see, it only takes a peripheral connection for a spirit to find a genuine medium and to deliver a message – whether it be through his own direct relatives, or someone who is not related to him, but can deliver his message to his loved ones.

Moral of the story is: even if you are not related to someone, if you have a peripheral connection to another spirit, and they want to get through, they somehow will find me and break through your own reading to let me know they are there. Sometimes it is the only opportunity that they will ever have to let their loved ones know that they are okay, but also that they ARE alive on the other side. Magical readings are alive and well!

Thank you, Matt, for being so persistent to get through to your parents and step-dad. You did a great job, and I hope your connection has provided comfort for  your mom, dad and step-dad.

Sometimes, you just never know what kind of surprise you will receive during a reading!

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Rosemary, Timothy Leary, Bob Dylan and the Muslin Cloth

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Someone was talking to me the other day about celebrities. I’m not much into celebrities, although my cousin through marriage IS Bob Dylan – really – my father’s sister, married his mother’s brother [Bob’s uncle]. And…one of my sisters won a Bronze Medal in Gymnastics in the 1977 World Games in Moscow, Russia – 3rd place in the WORLD! Which, is actually the reason I’m not overwhelmed by celebrity status. My sister, Denise, was a World Gymnast – yet, we shared the same BED!! She used to do flip-flops into the bed and make it shake so much, I couldn’t sleep!! We had our fights, and were like any other people, so it’s hard for me to get all starry-eyed about celebrities. I think they are lucky to have the publicity and connections to get to do what they want, and to get paid a lot for it – that’s what I admire most. I get more starry-eyed over personalities – no matter what the person’s background, celebrity or not. So..… talking about celebrities made me think of a reading I did for someone close to a celebrity (how’s that for a lead in??… 😀)

This was a group reading I did for a friend from work, who happened to be the roommate of Rosemary, the ex-wife of LSD guru, Timothy Leary. Ro, as she was called, was a beautiful woman – I mean, very physically beautiful, even in her 60s. She had the classic model face of cheekbones and jawline. Her chin-length hair smoothly framed her face. And sweet – she was so sweet and soft-spoken.

At any rate, there were about 8 people there, and I had no idea with whom I would connect on The Other Side. There were a couple of people I connected to very strongly. One was a friend of Rosemary’s – a woman who had died about a year or so before. She came through quite clearly, wearing a vest and hat. As I walked over to Rosemary, I could feel this woman stroke my cheek and I knew that this is what she would do for Rosemary. I told Ro that she would lay her head against her friend, and she would stroke her cheek to calm and comfort her. Rosemary’s eyes were filled with tears and she quietly affirmed. After the group reading, Rosemary came to me with a 4”x5” photograph of her and her friend – with Rosemary laying her head on her shoulder and her friend stroking her cheek! What immediate confirmation!!

The other person I remember quite clearly was a man (I’m sorry, I don’t remember the names, often) who was a friend of a married couple there, Valerie and Mike. I could feel that Mike had a lot of psychic energy coming from him, and I later found out that he was aware of the fact that he has this effect. I told him that I was “working off” his energy, and hoped he didn’t mind – but the plain fact was that I actually could read better standing nearer to him because I could literally feel his energy – sort of like an extra power surge.

As I stood there, I looked at Val and Mike and explained whom I was seeing. I remember the man quite clearly. He had a hat on, and he described the celebrations on the beach, and other various personal confirmations. But what struck me the most was what I FELT. I could literally feel this man placing a fabric over one shoulder on me. It felt like a serape, or some blanket. It felt like a heavy muslin. I was somewhat confused because it seemed to be draped over only my one shoulder. I explained what I was feeling – how he was literally placing this on me, how heavy the material was, seeing the hat he was wearing. I had no clue what it meant.

Valerie and Mike merely nodded and said nothing else. Afterwards, though, they came up and thanked me. Then I was handed a manila file folder. I opened it. And here, on an 8”x11” photograph was this man wearing a cowboy-type hat – with an orange heavy muslin blanket/serape draped over one shoulder!! I couldn’t believe it – exactly as I had described!! And to think that this spirit had somehow found a way to allow me to literally feel the fabric being draped on me!! It was very gratifying.

Unfortunately, several months later, Rosemary died of complications of heart disease. However, I was glad that she was able to have confirmation of her friend before she, herself, passed over. I feel it is a great gift to hear from someone already “over there,” before one dies. It gives comfort and knowledge that we are not alone – and will not be alone when we go, seemingly, alone over to the Other Side.

Although I sometimes don’t see what I do as a “gift,” I need to recognize it more as such. It’s just such a natural thing to me, that it’s like my blue eyes – they just are. Hearing confirmation from others, and having the physical sensations, or literally “hearing” spirits speak, is amazing. I appreciate so much any confirmation people give me, because it helps to reinforce that maybe this really is a gift – all wrapped up in this tiny body of mine.

So, a great big hug and thanks to all the spirits out there who so graciously allow me to connect with them – and equal thanks and gratitude to those who allow me to read for them. It is an honor. It is to you I owe my thanks for your gift of sharing. Thank you.

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ELLEN BURSTYN, Mystic Sufis and NOT the Ya Ya Sisterhood — My Weekend at her Home with the Mystical Lettuce Spinner

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The movie, The Ya Ya Sisterhood, made me remember my weekend stay at the home of actress, Ellen Burstyn, in the late 1970s. This experience also demonstrates how certain synchronistic events can lead to an interesting adventure.

At this stage in my life, I had become very interested in holistic health. I was working at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Buffalo, New York, and I was very discouraged and, often, upset with the way patients were treated. I had come to the conclusion that a holistic approach to health was more humane and afforded the patient more respect. Thus, I made the decision that I wanted to actually WORK in holistic health.

I did not know then that the Edgar Cayce foundation had a medical clinic (the one referred to in my previous diary entry called ‘The Edgar Cayce Reincarnation Group Karma Experience’). So, I began a search for someplace to be that would help me help others through holistic health.

I was in my Search for God (Edgar Cayce) study group which met weekly. There were only about 4 or 5 of us, however, it kept me connected with spiritual ideals which were of vital importance to me. We would meet in a different person’s home each week, read passages from the Search for God books that were derived from Edgar Cayce’s psychic readings. We’d then discuss their meaning, and find ways to apply the discussed ideals in our lives that week. I found it very fulfilling.

Thus, I was pretty tuned in at that time. I wasn’t married, didn’t have a child or major responsibilities, and had lots of free time after work to delve into spiritual matters. It was a good time.

My search for my place in holistic health began. One day I had picked up a magazine – I’m not even sure now which one, but probably something like “Whole Life.” I read some articles and then perused the ads. I’ve found ads to be very stimulating in generating ideas. (I never BUY the products, but I can get some great ideas from them!)

I ran across an ad for The World Symposium on Humanity to be held the summer of 1979, to be videotaped between London, Toronto, and Los Angeles. It mentioned the numerous famous people who would be speaking and they seemed to be of a New Age orientation. It didn’t specifically mention holistic health, however, it just had that “feel” to it. So, I wrote to the address in the ad, explaining that I was looking for a job in the holistic health field. And I waited.

About two weeks later, I received a call in Buffalo at about 1:00 a.m. – I was sound asleep. The call came from someone named Guru Raj Singh in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Guru Raj Singh said he read my letter and wondered if I was still interested in something in holistic health? “Yes, certainly,” I said. So, he said there might be an Administrative Assistant position with The World Symposium on Humanity. Because I was in Buffalo, he asked if I could go to New York City to meet him there for an interview? In fact, would I spend the entire weekend there, working with the Symposium coordinators – I could take notes, transcribe them, do whatever needed to be done of a clerical nature for them? I jumped at the chance. We agreed to meet the next weekend in Manhattan.

Fortunately, my friend, Paul Boroff, a pharmacist I knew from the University of Buffalo was now working at Sloan-Kettering (Cancer) Hospital in Manhattan. I called him and asked if I could spend a night there while I was waiting to meet this Guru Raj Singh. Paul is very conservative, and he agreed, but with trepidation.

I arrived in New York and went to Paul’s apartment. It was small, as are many New York apartments. He wanted to know just what I was doing there and who this Guru Raj Singh was. I explained about the World Symposium on Humanity and that Guru Raj Singh would meet me at Paul’s apartment the next morning.

The next morning came, and Guru Raj Singh appeared at the door. Paul opened it, and there was this man: in a totally white outfit, a white turban wrapped around his head, a dark beard and mustache, and a silver knife at his waist. I thought Paul would faint right on the spot! Paul turned to me, gave me a very pained and twisted look, and rapidly whispered: “Sharon, do you have ANY idea what you are getting yourself into??????!!!” Being (probably overly) trusting, I assured him it was okay, and followed Guru Raj Singh to a waiting cab.

I learned that Guru Raj Singh was a Sikh, someone who followed the teachings of Guru Ram Das. I asked him where we were going and he explained that the hostess of the World Symposium on Humanity was an actress living outside New York City. Her name was Ellen Burstyn.

Actually, I’m not very impressed by famous people only because one of my sisters was famous in gymnastics (she won 3rd place against the Russians in the 1977 World Games in Moscow), and I know that famous people aren’t any different (except they have more publicity, and some have more money). So, quite honestly, I didn’t even KNOW who Ellen Burstyn was.

The cab dropped us off at a huge stone home next to the Hudson River near Palisades, New York. Walking toward the door, it opened and there were two young men and a woman with greasy, reddish-blonde hair, about chin-length, with a long mu-mu, and bare feet. The woman introduced herself: “Hi, I’m Hadia, and we’re going to go to the store – make yourself at home.” Guru Raj Singh and I entered into the kitchen area, he took me to a small office, and I asked, “Where’s Ellen?” He quizzically looked at me, and said, “You just met her.” I said, “No I didn’t. I didn’t meet anyone named Ellen.” He kind of rolled his eyes and then said, “THAT was Ellen – Hadia is her SUFI name!” Hmmm, I guess I had a LOT more to learn!!

I discovered that this huge home was Ellen’s. However, she shared it with a couple of struggling actors who rented rooms there. On the wall hung photos of sufis dancing and spinning in mystic meditation. Being summer, it was lovely. There was a huge yard facing the river. A wooden, winding staircase led upstairs. I ended up having my own room, with a fireplace, adjoining Guru Raj Singh’s room. Then I went back to the office, where I was shown the desk and typewriter – in the room were posters of Ellen’s plays and shows she had been in, and a golden statue stood in there. In a way, I wish I had known about her beforehand, because I think all the things I was seeing would have had more meaning. But to me, she was just a kind hostess.

That weekend was a whirlwind of activity. I don’t even remember all the people who were there. Many names were a blur. I was pretty nervous and shy. There were lots of little focus groups meeting. I had a tape recorder and taped their conversations for later transcription (which ended up being nearly impossible).

We had a wonderful dinner one night. It was held in the glorious dining room. We had shrimp, salads, Vichyssoise (cold French potato soup) and other delicious foods. I remember Ellen helping in the kitchen, surrounded by mismatched silverware, cutting up vegetables when the phone rang. She sounded agitated at the phone call. She hung up exasperated and exclaimed “That Muhammad Ali, he wants to come over and I told him ‘No!’ – he just monopolizes conversations!” Well, that was interesting.

There were lots of pillows scattered in the living room, music, singing, and a dancer named Zuleikha. You know, I never got a lot done. It was actually a pretty disorganized group.

And what did I bring away from this weekend visit at Ellen Burstyn’s house? Was it like the Ya Ya Sisterhood?? No, it was the lettuce spinner. Huh? You may ask. What about the lettuce spinner? What can I say? There was something about it that just grabbed me. I came away from her home desperately wanting a lettuce spinner! Eventually, I DID get my very own lettuce spinner. It was very symbolic to me.

Now, you may ask, why wasn’t I focused on the rich and famous? A lettuce spinner?? Actually, though, I think it’s a fitting memory. You see, I think even the most mundane objects can elicit higher meanings – just like that simple ad resulted in this wonderful weekend. It’s a spiritual lettuce spinner. Remember Hadia and the Sufis? I think that lettuce spinner was a spiritual clue, a link to a higher realm, a symbolic thrust into a new world. After all, each time that lettuce spinner spins, I see the dancing mystical Sufis…..and Hadia……spinning, spinning, spinning……..

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A Visit From My Dad – Our Story

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My dad, William Tenney, whom I called “Saint Bill,” was wonderful. I love him very much.

Dad passed away almost two years ago. He was 86, but still had swatches of brown hair amidst the grey. He never had a bald spot, and he walked a mile each day until the day of his last stroke.

Simply speaking, my dad lived a full life; a life filled with challenges, yet simple joys.

As a kid, he grew up in Superior, Wisconsin. His mother had been married before with other children. My dad’s dad, whom I never met, moved from Missouri to Wisconsin and met my dad’s mom. She was Norwegian; my grandfather – my dad’s father – was Irish.  Dad moved to Buffalo after having been there with the Merchant Marines – when I asked him why in the world he would move from Wisconsin to Buffalo, New York, he said, “It was warmer!”

My dad was raised a Christian Scientist. He always had a positive attitude.  Although my three younger sisters, my mom and I, were night owls, he’d religiously call to us on weekends very early in the morning, whistling and singing, “Rise and shine, it’s a beautiful morning! The birds are singing, the sun is shining.” Then he’d be in the kitchen flipping pancakes and making scrambled eggs. He always had a full glass of milk with all his meals.

I came along first. My dad was 21 when I was born in Buffalo, New York. I have photos of him holding me as a baby. He always loved children. There was a delightful part of him that could become child-like in appreciation – the “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” when shown a new computer device that he knew nothing about, yet knew this was one of those “ooooh” moments. At the time of my birth we lived in the City of Buffalo on the Westside of town. It was a huge turn-of-the century brick building near Bryant Street and Elmwood Avenue.   Huge oak trees lined the streets, and it was a vibrant neighborhood. I had a wonderful old woman as a neighbor, and she played a grand piano. I remember going to her apartment often to listen to her play.

When I was seven, my first sister was born. I immediately learned how to change diapers and make formula and heat baby bottles. At first it was fun.

With the coming birth of my first sister, my parents decided to move to the suburbs in Cheektowaga, New York. To me, it was very sad, as I loved the city, and the tree-lined streets, and my friends. It was then that the wheels began turning in the opposite direction. It was the 1950s and families were expected to have about four children. That’s what my parents had – only they couldn’t afford them, and I think we all suffered for it. With the age difference between me and my three sisters, there was an invisible barrier that stood between us – they had their circle together, I had just me.

Our family moved to the suburban projects into a row-house that had a coal-heated furnace. The coal man would come and the truck dumped all those black cubes of coal into our coal bin. Dad would shovel it into the roaring furnace during those long, long cold winters. I’d pull a chair into the furnace room and sit in front of the furnace as if it were a fireplace. Living in an apartment in the city was one thing because lots of families did that. But renting in the projects in the suburbs and not owning a home was looked down upon. Obviously, it was the poor people who lived in the projects – ours was called Tiorunda.

When I was ten, my next baby sister was born.  I remember my little sister, the next after me, breaking the arm of the baby – she had tried to pull her over in the crib and that was it – poor little baby had a big cast on her arm. When I was 14, my last sister was born.  By then I remember that we were still in the projects, and our neighbors across the way had six boys — my mom just had our fourth girl.  I remember Dad carrying my youngest sister in his arms while he went to visit with the dad and his sixth son.  Dad and his sense of humor, held out my youngest sister and said, “Want to switch?”  They both laughed, but I guess dad did want that son.  With each sibling, the responsibilities grew. I learned all aspects of mothering. I had numerous responsibilities.

My dad worked at the Bethlehem Steel Plant as a foreman. It was grueling work and grueling hours. He worked shift-work, which meant one week he worked from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., the next week from 3 p.m. – 11 p.m., and the next week 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. I don’t know how he did it. He was known to only sleep a few hours a night, yet he thought that we who slept normal hours, slept too much.   Because we had moved into the projects with the birth of my first sister, there were still two other sisters to be born. With each new daughter, my dad began working double shifts to cover costs. When he was 53, he had an accident at the Steel Plant and one of his fingers was cut off. I remember saying to him, “Oh, Dad, I’m so sorry about you losing that finger.” And with his typical positive attitude he said, “Don’t worry about it. I had it for 53 good years!” That’s how he turned things around.

My grandmother, my mother’s mother, had a big farm in Alden, New York.  Fifty-six acres of farmland.  She and our “grampa” raised Black Angus and gladiolas.  That was my time of respite.  We’d get to go to the farm and I could wander on my own out to the back of the acreage down to a creek with Johnny Appleseed apples.  I would see red fox in the distance, hear the cheep of birds, and the whistle of the breeze as it cooled my face in the humid summer.  My sisters stayed back at the house because they were much younger — I just walked and walked for hours in perfect silence.

Dad loved the farm, too.  During harvest season, we’d all ride up the silo while it was being filled with cut corn for the cows.  I remember the day that Dad was out in the pasture and the bull happened to be there.  Oh, boy, that bull caught sight of him and it started charging.  Even while hoping Dad would make it out of there, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the sight of him tearing through the pasture as fast as he could go and then “BOOM!” he leaped over the electric wire fence, and dropped on the wet ground just beyond the bull!  What a sight to see!  That was my dad.

Our mom had become ill and was in and out of hospitals for years. She had nine surgeries in ten years. As mother’s little helper, I took over with the kids, and after school, I cooked meals each night for six people, did the laundry, cleaned the house and did the dishes (no dishwashers then). I made my dad’s lunch each day. He loved cold baked bean sandwiches with a slice of onion on top and some ketchup. I kid you not. Although he ate them every day, I never did eat a baked bean sandwich.

On the day I graduated high school with a Regent’s Diploma (meaning I had done additional work to get a “higher” diploma granted by New York State), my dad immediately said I must go with him to the Steel Plant to get a job! I was horrified. As a poor kid and a girl, I was not expected to go to college, although I desperately wanted to go.  It was decided, though, that I would work, not attend college. I could not imagine working at the Steel Plant and I was panicked. Serendipitously, I had (apparently) taken a civil service test during my typing class in high school. That week I received a letter stating that I was number one on the job list, and to come to the State University of New York at Buffalo for a job interview. Thank goodness I was hired, and became a Clerk Typist.   I no longer had to worry about working at the Steel Plant.  My first job was in the Harriman Library at the old Main Street campus in Buffalo.  It was while working full-time that I took college classes at night.

It was a difficult time for me then, but also for my dad. He had many trials and tribulations, and these are just a few.

Now working, I finally moved out of the house. Ironically, I saved more money living on my own, because I had to pay half of my salary to stay at my parents while still caring for the kids after work, cooking for six, doing the housekeeping, and having little rest. I was able to save enough money to go to Europe for three months. I landed in London and traveled through all the countries down to Spain and then back up again to London. It was my dream to go to Europe, and I did it.

I would tell Dad of my travels around the world. He had traveled the world as a Merchant Marine. Because of poor medical testing in those days, he was denied the regular military because of “sugar” in his urine – but he never had diabetes. He still wanted to be part of the coalition that fought during World War II. He traveled all over with the Merchant Marines. He especially loved Italy, the scenery, the food, its people, and, of course, the beautiful women.

Each time I moved to another state, especially after my mother died, he would always make a trip out to visit me. He did not visit me in Arizona, and that was the year my mother died. When I later moved to Boulder, Colorado, he was there.   He loved Boulder! Never had he been in a town where they had actual leather on the bus seats and they weren’t all knifed up (kid you not). When partiers would walk around with bottles of beer at night, they didn’t toss them on lawns, or smash them on streets, they would line them up carefully in a row at the edge of a sidewalk, ready to be picked up by the garbage men. As we walked through the local mall with all the cars, he marveled that there was no rust on the cars! After all, he was used to Wisconsin and Buffalo – winter reigned and so did rust. With the amazing Flatiron mountains rising above the town where the Rocky Mountains began he was in total awe.

When my daughter was born, he immediately flew to Seattle to see her. I was so happy. He was such a proud Grampa. I was touched that he would come all that way to see Celene.

When I divorced my husband in Seattle, I came back “home” to Dad. He was a surrogate father to my daughter – we both adored him.   I realize now that he was about 67 when we arrived on the doorstep needing help. He welcomed us and my daughter, Celene, now had her Granddaddy. I went back to school to finish my college degrees. During those cold winters with ten feet of snow, and me at school, my dad would fetch Celene from the school bus after kindergarten. Although the house was only 3 houses from the bus stop, he drove with the car heated up, lifted Celene off the big yellow bus so she wouldn’t be buried in the snow, and shuttled her into the warm cozy car – then drove up to the drive way, three houses away.

At my college graduation, earning a degree in Communications, I had a plaque made up for my dad. He was unaware of it. During the ceremony, I had permission to ask my dad up to the podium. He had that child-like look of glee and surprise, and as he approached me, I spoke to the audience and handed him the plaque. I publicly thanked my dad for being supportive and loving and told him how much I appreciated him. The plaque read: To my Dad, Saint Bill, Thank you for all your support. Love, Sharon.” Everyone applauded and I swear I saw a tear in his eye.

When Celene was six-years-old, I tried to get a job that paid enough for us to live on, but could not find one in Buffalo. I couldn’t manage as a single parent there. I had a friend in Santa Cruz who said I could stay with his mother and get set up there. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so why not? I took a Greyhound Bus out while my dad watched Celene, and I checked out Santa Cruz. It was quite the contrast from drab, cold, snowy, rainy, windy Buffalo. Santa Cruz was a California beach town. So, I decided to move.

Eventually, we ended up living in the middle of the redwoods in Felton, just outside of Santa Cruz in the mountains nearby. My dad came out numerous times to visit. He always delighted in the little things. The ocean – the ocean on which he was a Merchant Marine, and was so beautiful to gaze upon. The majestic redwoods, tall and gigantic, overlooking all who stood beneath the towering forest. My dad loved it here. He adored it. He loved that all the houses were different, that each had its personal mark. How he loved nature! I think he was a natural-born Californian, but only discovered that in his late 70s.

As old age crouched on him, he began to lose his memories. Eventually, he was in an assisted living home. One of my sisters sent me a “letter” he was trying to write to me. I would send letters and post cards each week, always attaching a photo of me when I was about five-years old, because he no longer remembered the present. He had written on one of my envelopes in which I had sent a letter, and it said, “Dear Sharon, How are things in California?” By then, he didn’t know how to send a letter, but he certainly knew how to send a thought. I am very grateful to my sister who had the sensitivity to send that envelope to me to let me know that Dad was thinking about me – in the present. I still treasure that simple white envelope with my Dad’s writing on it.

The last time I visited him in Buffalo I brought Celene – unfortunately, he did not remember visiting us in California and when he saw her he exclaimed, “The baby?!” “Yes, the baby, Dad. She’s all grown up.” Such a sad moment it was to realize that twenty years were gone from his memory. I managed to “sneak” a video recorder into the home, and took a good twenty-minute movie of him talking about his life. By then, I knew he did not remember more recent events, so I had created a photo book for him that had old photos of our mom, his sister, other passed relatives whom he would remember, and even managed to get photos of Superior, Wisconsin, and put those in. I got a great photo of one of the “Meteor” whaleback ships from the 1800s there still perched in Superior! My dad regaled us with stories about the ships, and the Merchant Marines, his time on the boats. He told stories of “riding the rails” of trains while he was a teenager. We talked as far back as I could remember.

With his last stroke, he collapsed during one of his daily walks. It was madness after that. The hospital, the various homes until one was found next to an old monastery. Infections, paralysis, sadness. By then, he had lost his house (which he finally bought when I was 18 years-old) and he had nothing. Just as he came into this world with nothing, he was going out with nothing.

It was a conscious decision for him to die when he did. It seemed that the closer he came to death, the more his mind became intact. I will never forget the moment that I feel he decided to starve himself. My sister who had lovingly sent me that envelope on which my dad was trying to write a letter to me, took me around to some yard sales and we bought some pretty hand crocheted afghan blankets. We took them back to my dad, and he looked at them, and now being paralyzed on one side and no longer able to walk, he said, “They look like they would work for a wheelchair.” I knew then – I just felt it – that he knew he would never have his beloved walks. This was the turning point.

The next day he refused to eat. As my sister and I tried to hand feed my dad, he pursed his lips together and shook his head “NO!” We tried to get him to drink. He refused. He rarely said anything at that point, but as one of the nurses came to give him a shot, he screamed out, “No more needles!” He had made his decision.

A week later, family and friends gathered around him in the nursing home bed. We took turns sitting next to him and holding his hand. My dad was deaf since he was a teenager and he read lips. Although I was not as close to the bed as the others, I still could reach his hand and I had a good view of his face and he of mine. Knowing he read lips, I “talked” to him silently. I kept clearly mouthing, “I love you,” and “You’re doing a good job.” He continued to stare at me – we were talking while all around us others were talking, but not to him. We were in silent conversation.

At 12:28 a.m. on November 19th, 2012, my dad passed. He was awake until the very last breath. He wanted to be present for his own death. No matter how much morphine they gave him, he did not close his eyes. He knew this was a pivotal moment of his life, and he wanted to be conscious for it.

With the passing of my dad, came the passing of our family. We were not a perfect family. Me being the oldest and in a different generation from my siblings, it was hard to communicate. I don’t think my sisters actually understood me, except for the one who sent the envelope to me – she knows I’m different but she accepts me. I was always the square peg in the round hole.

Joyfully, I end this on a happy note. My dad came to me several months after he died!! Yes! I saw him in my house! I was in my bedroom and looked into my hallway during the morning. I saw my dad leaning against the wall of the hallway, with a smile. He was dressed in his favorite white cable knit sweater with the leather trim, he had on his khakis, and his brown tied shoes. He held but did not smoke a pipe in his right hand. He looked at least thirty years younger. His hair was full and brown again. My dad had vitality. He was happy. I couldn’t believe that I saw him! He was there for about ten seconds and then gone. Oh, but I saw him from top to bottom and the smile of love on his face.

Dad, I miss you so much. I love you.

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