51) Miracles do Happen!

My twin sister, Tina 2012

My twin sister, Tina 2012

Thursday April 23rd 2009 is a date I will never forget.  On the Wednesday evening Simon and I were supposed to be going away to Dorset  for a mini-break, but as Simon had a headache we decided to go down on Thursday morning instead.

We were up bright and early, just putting the last bits and pieces in the car when the phone rang.  It was my daughter Kristie, who lived with my twin sister Tina and her husband, Woody, and their family.  She told me that Tina was in hospital about to have an emergency operation.  She had suffered a brain haemorrhage late on Wednesday night and was due in theatre any minute to have life saving brain surgery.  I felt my legs go to jelly and I could hardly speak.  I had been speaking to Tina only the evening before and she had been totally fine.

I went straight to Tina’s house as her children all needed to be cared for and I wanted to be with Kristie too.  Tina and Woody had been unable to have children and had adopted seven learning disabled children over the course of several years.  They ranged in age from three to seventeen at the time.  It was an unreal morning, trying to hold myself together for the sake of the children, but desperately waiting for the phone call from Woody, who was at the hospital, to find if she had made it through the surgery.  Finally just after lunch Woody rang to say she was in intensive care but that the surgery had been successful.  I was over the moon.  I had been praying so hard and felt that my prayers had been answered.

Within a couple of days Tina was moved to the High Dependency Unit and was doing well.  She complained of the most dreadful headache but the staff told us that was quite normal due to her brain surgery.  After just a few more days Tina was moved to a general neurological ward and appeared to be making excellent progress.  She was able to walk and talk quite normally and  have a shower and walk around the ward. The expectation was that she would be home within the week!

Kristie and I were visiting her daily and on the Thursday, just a week after her operation,  we had all been sitting chatting about the programmes she would be watching that evening when the nurse brought her tea, which included a small bowl of ice cream.  Within minutes Tina’s speech was becoming confused and then I noticed that she was having problems eating her ice cream.  Her hand was making odd movements and she was unable to hold the spoon.  I alerted the staff on the ward and they explained that she might have some fluid on the brain and would carry out a lumbar puncture to release any fluid.  When I left the hospital that evening I was obviously concerned, but the staff had been very reassuring and it seemed that this was quite normal and that the lumbar puncture was routine.

The following morning I rang the hospital and they asked me to visit urgently.  They explained that Tina was once again in intensive care.  I was not at all prepared for what faced me that day.  The consultant explained that Tina had suffered a massive stroke due to having a vasospasm, a rare side effect of the brain surgery.  In layman’s terms, the blood vessels within her brain had gone into spasm and no blood had been able to reach the frontal lobes.  I was warned that they fully expected her to die.  I don’t know how I managed to physically stand by her bed, I was shaking and crying so much.  She was lying there covered with wires and tubes, buzzers kept going off and she was fitting, which was terrifying to watch.  The machines that were keeping her alive required almost constant attention by the special nurses who were with her.  I couldn’t believe that she had been doing so well and now they really thought she would die.  I prayed so much that day, I asked God why this happened and kept telling Tina over and over again how much I loved her and that she would come through this ok.   When I eventually left the hospital that evening I emailed every healer I could find on the internet asking if they could please send Tina healing.

I really didn’t think I’d be able to sleep that night, but nervous exhaustion thankfully sent me straight to sleep. I awoke in the morning dreading the news from the hospital.  I phoned and they said she was ‘stable’, but added that there had been no improvement.  I went to the hospital as soon as I could and was met by the ward sister who told me to expect the worse.  She explained that only the machines were keeping her alive, and even if she did survive the prognosis was that she would be severely disabled and unable to enjoy any quality of life as her brain was so badly damaged.  Yet again I sat with her, talking to her, stroking her hand gently.  I prayed that she would not leave me.  I had lost my Mum, my Dad and my brother all within the space of three and half months just a few years before, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing my twin sister too. I talked to her about our childhood, about the fun we used to have, about family memories, even about the battles we’d had.  I just felt that I could not give up.

I was sure one day that she had lightly squeezed my hand as I was about to leave, but the nurses assured me that she wouldn’t be able to do that.  They said that her brain was unable to distinguish my voice and that she most probably did not have the ability to understand anything I said to her.  I ignored their advise and just carried on chatting to her right up until the moment I had to leave in the evenings.  Days went by and there was no progress and it became more and more likely that she would just fade away.  I was totally heartbroken.  I had never lived through such a time.  Being an identical twin is impossible to really understand unless you are a twin yourself.  We had been together since before we were born.  We had shared virtually every part of our lives, most of our childhood and teenage experiences, and even though we had fought dreadfully at times, we were always there for each other and loved one another more than can be explained.  Now, days in to her stroke, I was trying to come to terms with the real possibility that this was the end.  That I would not have my twin sister anymore.

They decided to carry out a further operation to install a shunt, a drain in her brain, which would release the fluid from her brain into her stomach.  The operation was in itself risky, but without it she didn’t stand a chance, the fluid in her brain was building all the time.  Again there was the dreadful time of waiting to see if she had pulled through and thankfully she did.  We waited for a couple more days to see if there was any improvement, but still Tina just lay there motionless, on full life support, with every vein in her body seemingly linked to some needle to give her life saving fluids and drugs.  They even had to start using the veins in her feet as they were running out of veins in her arms, her hands and her shoulders.

I continually asked God why this was happening and what more could I do to help her and her family through this, but I was too upset to hear any answers.  Finally, in desperation, I called a medium that I found on the internet. I didn’t want to phone anyone who knew me, I really wanted someone who had no previous knowledge of who I was.   Immediately she began speaking to me, she described our Dad in the most wonderful detail,  and told me that he was talking about someone very close to me who had suffered a bleed on the brain.  She said this person was in a critical condition and was literally between worlds.  She then went on to describe our Mum, both  physically and her character, and said that she was with both of us.   Amazingly she also described our brother and said that he was looking over us and that he was giving me the strength to cope with it all.  She told me that Tina was aware of them with her.  I asked her why this was happening and she said that Tina had chosen to go through this before she was born.  She explained that it was an experience Tina’s soul had wanted and importantly it would show who would support her and who wouldn’t, who would be able to understand, and who would turn away due to the severity of the situation.  I did ask if Tina would survive and the medium told me that she couldn’t answer that, but said that Tina had a very strong spirit and that whatever happened was supposed to happen. I was stunned by such an accurate reading, but still had wished that I could have been told what would be the outcome.

The next day I went into the hospital again and as I walked in I said my usual ‘Hi Sis’ and took her hand.  I was sure her eyelids moved and then thought I felt her gently squeeze my hand again.  I didn’t mention it to the nurses, who I felt sure thought I was imagining it, but inside I felt a warm glow and a real sense of joy.  Something in me realised that she had turned the corner, that she would be ok.

For the first time in weeks I felt an inner calm, an inner strength,  I knew I could cope, as if I had been shown there was light at the end of the tunnel. I was full of optimism for her future.  Tina’s small movements became  almost like a secret code between her and I.  Many times that day her eyelids moved as I said something funny and her fingers softly brushed mine.  I gave her a kiss goodbye before I left and said I’d see her the next day.

The following day I was over the moon to see that Tina had her tracheostomy tube removed.  She could breathe on her own!  That was a  huge hurdle.  As usual I said ‘Hi Sis’ when I arrived and I  almost fell over when a few moments later she uttered, in a very hoarse voice,’ Hi’ – she was back!!! The nurses were laughing and clapping and the whole atmosphere in the unit was lifted.  She didn’t say anything again for a few days, but she still kept moving her eyelids and through her squeezing my hand I could feel her strength grow day by day.

After several more weeks Tina slowly made progress to the point where she was transferred to a neurological rehabilitation unit within the hospital.  She was paralysed on her right side, still doubly incontinent, unable to even turn herself, unable to swallow food, and only able to say a few words, but she could laugh, and we would share afternoons laughing at the times we had been through together.  I would sit with her and we would watch comedy shows and it would lift her spirits.  It really did seem that through joy and laughter she became better and better. Through everything that had happened to her she had managed somehow to  keep her sense of humour.

Over the two years Tina spent in two specialist rehabilitation hospitals, she showed incredible inner strength and courage, overcoming the most enormous obstacles. Learning to do even the most basic things from scratch which most of us take for granted.  She suffered dreadful setbacks, crippling pain in her paralysed arm and leg, frustration of a damaged brain that would not function as she wished, and the agony of a broken hip from falling over when trying to use a walking stick.  She had to be admitted to a normal hospital for a hip replacement operation and this caused even more problems as people didn’t understand her speech and her understanding of language, having had such a serious brain injury. Everytime they asked her if she required painkillers she said yes, even if she didn’t, and by the time she was returned to the rehab unit she was totally bombed by the amount of morphine in her body.  It took weeks for her to get back to some sense of normality. She suffered incredible loneliness and depression whilst trying to come to terms with the fact that most importantly,  she had lost her independence.

There were so many experiences that had me in tears over the time she was in hospital, but one of the most memorable occasions for me was when she was first able to stand, albeit with support, and we could have a hug. It was the best hug I’d ever had.  We were both in tears as for the first time in many months I held her in my arms and she could hug me back too.  Another wonderful memory was just before her first Christmas in hospital.   The nurses organised a Carol Service  and arranged for a local choir to come along and we all sat singing the carols.  Many of the patients sang too, including Tina, who still has a beautiful singing voice.  They gave her a microphone and she sang Once in Royal David’s City.  With tears streaming down my face it took me straight back to when we were both five and were angels in our school nativity play and we had sung that very song together back then.

I was amazed by the most wonderful work the teams at the rehabilitation units undertook to get Tina as far along the recovery route as possible.  Their patience and understanding was incredible.  I was overwhelmed by the gentleness and kindness of other relatives visiting their loved ones who were also going through the most traumatic times and yet there was a camaraderie between us all, all supporting one another and all living for the time when those dear to us would regain even a little of their lives.  The love within the rehab units was so strong. They were  places of both immense sadness and unbelievable joy, much laughter and sometimes, sadly, unbearable heartache.

I was stunned by the kindness from the wonderful worldwide community of healers, many of whom stayed in contact with me throughout her two years  in hospital.  The strangers, literally scattered across the globe who showed an interest and continued to send their healing thoughts to Tina. I will never be able to thank them enough.  I was so saddened by the lack of support from the friends and relatives that Tina had.  I would never have thought that those whom she had loved and considered close backed away and found themselves too busy to even phone to find out how she was.  I was appalled by the total lack of support from social services who I had assumed would be able to offer some kind of help to Woody and the children, but who in reality basically told me that as the children had been adopted and not fostered there was nothing they could do.   Just as the medium had said, it was an experience which  showed people’s true colours.

It was an eye-opener where friends and relatives were concerned, but it has made us both realise who really matters and who had only been there for the good times. The marriage vow, ‘for better, for worse’, often comes to my mind when I think of the people in Tina’s life who moved away from her and her family during this time, when they needed the love and support the most, and sadly received it the least. Some people even voiced that they felt it would have been better that she had just died. It is something I have tried to understand, but just can’t grasp.  Maybe the lessons are for all of them, maybe they too one day may require those they hold dear to have the patience and understanding to deal with such a trauma, who knows.  Some things are beyond my comprehension and maybe I will find the answers when I am once again back with my family in the spirit world.

Tina amazed all the consultants and specialists involved in her care. They said many times that her recovery was a miracle, that it should have been impossible for her to make the progress that she has. Although paralysed on her right side she is still improving.  She has learnt to walk again, to eat again, has regained her speech, kept most of her memories and importantly has made new friends through her involvement in stroke clubs that she regularly attends. She has become an avid reader, has learnt to master her i-phone and laptop, how to use Spotify to listen to her favourite music, and can play a mean game of scrabble! I feel blessed that I still have my sister  and that I have been able to share in such an enlightening experience.

I thank Mum, Dad and our brother Ray, for the continued love and support they have given us, without which I am sure I would have crumbled. I thank God for Tina’s ongoing recovery and for the strength I was given to cope with this.  Most of all I thank Tina for being my twin, she is an inspiration.

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45) The Glass Man

My Dad was  a research scientific glassblower.  He had trained after he returned from serving in the war and after many years as an apprentice went to work for an oil company in their refinery. 

As a young girl I was mesmerised when I would spend hours with Dad in the garden shed as he made all different objects in glass.  He would normally be making atomisers by the dozen, something he did to help pay for the very old car he and Mum had managed to buy.  It was always going wrong and to pay all the garage bills Dad would take on extra work in the evenings and on weekends.

In his shed  he had shelves filled with glass of all different colours and would make small ornaments for us.  He’d ask us what we’d want and we’d excitedly shout out cat or dog or horse and within minutes the glass would be transformed into funny little characters.  Even with his large hands Dad would craft the most beautiful intricate glass furniture for our dolls house and tiny glass coat hangers for our dolls clothes.  It was always like magic to me, watching him heat the glass in the flame and then with various tools he would pull it into different shapes, sometimes blowing into it at the same time.  It was wonderful and I loved our time together in the shed and the strange smell that only a glass blowing room has.  For fun, Dad would blow very fine glass bubbles, they would waft up into the air and were so fragile that you could put your fingers through them and they would virtually disappear.  Dad made beautiful gifts for friends and relatives and everyone would be in awe that he had made them in the shed.  If he had not had the responsibility of a family and the need for a regular income I am sure he would have preferred to spend his time creatively rather than working with all the technical glass blowing at the refinery.

When I attended a spiritualist church in London many years later, there was a young man, Martin, giving his very first inspired talk. You could tell he was extremely nervous and I had even seen him pacing up and down in the hallway before he had to take his place on the platform.  He needn’t have worried at all as his talk was very good.  You could tell that the congregation was hanging on his every word and you could have heard a pin drop. 

I noticed his aura expanding whilst he spoke and could see a vague outline of what appeared to be someone standing to the right side of him. I turned around and looked behind me to see if it could be a shadow or a play of the light, but everyone was sitting down and there were no obvious light sources.  The medium on the platform was sitting to the left of Martin so I couldn’t see where this could be coming from. As he continued speaking I noticed an odd movement to the right hand side of him.  There was a white-painted handrail with railings beneath which ran along the length of the platform and Martin was standing behind them and occasionally leaning on them.  To my absolute amazement I could see the outline of someone leaning on the rail far to the right, and the more I looked the more form the shape took.  Eventually I could see it was a man, a little taller than Martin, and surprisingly, he looked as if he was made of the glass bubbles that my Dad used to make.  He was shiny and transparent! It seemed an age that he was there, leaning on the handrail looking at everyone.  I kept blinking to clear my vision because I just couldn’t really believe what I was seeing. When Martin sat down the man was no longer visible and the service went on as normal.  However, when Martin stood again to say the closing prayer I could clearly see the man again.  It was an experience that I know I will never forget.  I spoke to Martin afterwards and asked him if he was aware of anyone standing near him but he said he wasn’t.  I did very much feel that this may have been a spirit who was there to assist him.

As time went on, and as I saw various mediums working, I began to see more and more outlines on walls behind them which would gradually form into ‘glass’ people.  Often it would be quite vague but sometimes I could make out distinct features, even clothes that were being worn and very often the medium would then give that as a description of the spirit communicator.

When I had been away from my mediumship for several years it appeared that this ‘gift’ of seeing spirit on walls or ‘glass’ people had all but disappeared.  I was chatting to some friends last summer and saying what a great shame that was.  Then, much to my surprise, when I attended a local spiritual workshop I was sitting watching another medium demonstrate when I began to see the familiar outline slowly appearing on the wall behind her.  I was thrilled!  As we worked that day the visions became clearer until I could actually use the vision as the basis for one of my readings when I was called to stand up and demonstrate.  I saw a ‘glass’ man leaning on a very old country gate and could see the countryside around him. Strangely I was also shown the most massive womans breast, which took up most of the wall, and I knew that he was connected to someone who had breast cancer. I was fortunate enough to be told his name, which is something I always ask for but don’t always get. I described him and the connection to the breast cancer and gave his name and immediately a woman could accept him and my communication with him strengthened. I was so grateful that I was able to give the recipient a good message from her loved one.

I often think of the ‘glass’ people I have seen and having spoken to several other mediums it does seem quite rare and I do wonder if watching my Dad making his glass bubbles all those years ago somehow stirred that gift in me.  Thanks Dad!

22) It’s good to share!

I obviously thought for this life-time I would choose not to be born alone and would instead have the fairly unique experience of being a twin.  When I was born there were far fewer twins than are born today, largely due to the fertility drugs that are available now, and so it was more unusual.  In all the schools we attended there was Monoamniotic-Monochorionic twinsonly ever  one other set of identical twins!

I wonder if my twin and I, in our soul existence, were in on the plan together, or whether having made the decision, separately, the higher powers decided who we would be conceived with.  It will be very interesting to find out one day. There are so many different facets to being a twin that one blog would be far too long, so for this posting I am just going to write about one aspect of twin-ship, if there is such a word!

Having shared my Mum’s womb for the nine months before my birth, I can actually say that I am a born sharer, as is my twin sister.

From my very first memories, I had no choice but to share.  Obviously we had to share the love of our parents and brother, but more of that in another blog sometime.  My identical twin sister, Tina and I, were born in the period after the war when, for most, including our family, money was still very tight.  For the first few months of our lives we had to share a cot and a pram, and it was only when we grew too large that we had our own.

Most  twins were always dressed the same in those days, but, unless it was for a special occasion,  Mum and Dad just couldn’t afford to buy two of everything, so we often had to wear  the very odd clothes that Mum made from old clothes that family or friends donated.  I remember Mum showing us a revolting pair of trousers that a rather large friend  had given her and thinking how utterly horrible the pattern was, a blend of browns and blues, totally yuk in my eyes.  The next thing we knew was that Mum had transformed the trousers into a couple of skirts for us – she was so delighted that she had managed to make two identical skirts, we weren’t – they were awful!  We used to sit for hours holding old jumpers whilst Mum would be undoing the wool and rolling it into a ball which she  would then use to knit us misshapen jumpers and cardigans.  She always said the next ones would be better, but they very rarely were.  I often wonder what we would have worn if Mum hadn’t been such a dab hand at sewing and knitting.  Damn that treadle sewing machine she was given!

At  school we had to wear a uniform, so we did look the same.  We were always put in the same class and strangely treated like one person.  It was quite bizarre.  If one of us did something wrong they would tell us both off – we would be in trouble. One teacher actually admitted to my Mum that they couldn’t tell us apart so that’s why she would discipline both of us – we both thought it was jolly unfair.

In the ballet school production of The Nut Cracker, we were both chosen to be butterflies, in the junior school Christmas play, we were chosen to be angels, in the school choir we were always given the same pieces to sing.  I think that everyone felt that we had to be treated the same, that there could be no distinction between us. There was also no favouritism.  Whatever I had, my twin sister had, and visa-versa, and what we couldn’t have individually, we shared.

Mum and Dad actually managed to save quite a lot of money by having us twins. Instead of having to buy two of many things, they just bought one, and we had to share.  We had one pram, which we would take in turns pushing round the garden, one tricycle, which again, we would take in turns riding, one scooter, one pair of roller skates.  Looking back I suppose that was a bit odd, but it felt normal because it was all we had ever known.

Christmas and birthdays were the same.  My brother would get his own presents, which he could use or play with, all by himself.   Tina and I  would often receive one present between us and we’d open it together and play with it together.  Our Nan always bought us joint presents, but, what we loved, was that she would also buy a dress for each of us for Christmas, always the same style, but maybe in a different colour – wow!

We even shared our baths until we were about ten years old, again, I thought nothing of it.  Dad was a frugal soul and wouldn’t for one minute have considered running two baths for us. We shared our bedroom, our clothes, our toys  and our books.  It was easy, we just took it in turns.  It never seemed a problem to me.  It didn’t bother me one jot.

There were very few differences between Tina and I.  At school our results tended to be neck and neck, our skills were normally at the same level.  However, when we were about eleven we went along to Richmond Ice Rink to learn to skate.  We were both put in the beginners class but Tina had her eye on another class where they were practising their spinning skills.  The teacher told Tina it normally took months until a student could get to that class.  Well by the end of the class Tina was in the spinning group – she was a natural-born skater – whilst I on the other hand never ever got the hang of it and spent the next three years of Saturday mornings hanging onto the edge of the rink or falling over.  Because Tina was such a good skater Mum and Dad bought her all the proper skating kit including her own white skates.  As I was such a klutz on the ice no investment was made in my kit at all and I had to make do with the dreadfully uncomfortable brown hire skates.  My ankles were so weak I even had to wear calipers that were attached to the skates – I looked a real treat!

Well, as I said, Tina had these beautiful white leather skates.  One winter it was particularly cold and we had the worst snow and ice for years.  I was  delighted when Tina suggested we could go out skating on the road and we could share her boots.  Imagine it, twins of about twelve, each with one skating boot on, what a pair of total nitwits, but we went out and had so much fun that day.  She thought nothing of sharing her wonderful boots with me.  Funny thing is I don’t think it even crossed our minds to take it in turns to wear a pair at a time – we were enjoying ourselves too much – how very odd we must have been!

On our seventeenth birthday Mum and Dad bought us a car between us. It was an ancient Ford Popular, 27 years old.  We called her Poppy .. how very predictable!   ‘She’ was green with white leather seats.  Sounds like a  luxurious interior, but I can assure you it wasn’t.  She always smelt like a jumble sale, had three forward gears, with no synchromesh, which meant we had to learn to double de-clutch – which was a nightmare, and she had those funny indicators that were like little arms sticking out the side of the car. The heater was a huge tube thing in the middle of the car where you either opened the flap and had very smelly hot air blasting over you, or the flap was closed and you froze.  The hand brake was very hit and miss on anything that had a slight incline, so was pretty scary when you are learning to drive.  We saved up together until we could afford driving lessons, which we took together too. She was our car for a couple of years and we lavished much love and care on her until one dreadful day her big end went and we couldn’t afford to have her fixed. We watched with sadness as she was towed away to the scrap heap.

We left home at an early age and rented a flat just outside London.  We shared the flat with two other girls.  They each had their own bedrooms but Tina and I shared ours.  Since we were about twelve  Mum had given us a clothing allowance, and we had always bought everything between us, clothes, shoes, make up etc.  We had one wardrobe  which we put our clothes in, and we always discussed each morning who was to going to wear what.  Even our shoes were shared as we had the same shoe size. It was fantastic because we had such a choice and I had never even thought of going out and buying a dress or pair of shoes on my own.  Fortunately we both liked similar clothes and colours, so it was easy. There were very few arguments and I never felt either of us really had to compromise that much either.   Our flat mates thought it was amazing that Tina and I shared everything, and it was the first time I had ever really considered that it was unusual.

We always saved up together for larger items, like our first record player, which we put by in a local hi-fi shop and paid off weekly until it was ours and we could bring it home. We went  together to buy our very first LP (long-playing album to those too young to remember), which was Dark Side of The Moon by Pink Floyd. We bought all our LP’s between us and ended up with an enviable collection.

We went along for interviews together and worked together for several years.  We shared jobs.  If they gave one of us a pay rise we would share it.  For a long time we had one shared purse with all our money in, and two separate purses that we would take out when we went out on our own.  When we opened our first bank account, it was a joint account and looking back they seemed to think that was a bit odd, but we didn’t. Everything was equal.

When we were twenty we decided that we had had enough of renting flats and decided to downsize to a very small one room bed sit to enable us to save a deposit to buy somewhere.  We shared a single bed for months, me one end and Tina the other.  We both had three jobs on the go and lived on cereals because they were cheap, but it meant we could save. The upside was that we were both really slim!

We both had day jobs, evening jobs working together in a wine bar where we would swap being either the cook or the waitress on alternate nights, and then we had a market stall on the weekend where we sold, of all things, children’s slippers.  We loved selling on the market, it was such good fun.  We would set targets for our sales and increase it every week.  When we were twenty-one we had saved enough for us to buy our first flat together in Twickenham.  It was a one bedroom flat as it was all we could afford, but one bedroom was fine for us.  We bought a double bed and shared it.  It was a dream come true and one that would have never come together had we not shared our dream and shared in the making of it.

Being a twin, and an identical one at that, is an adventure that I am so very pleased I chose, and one of my greatest pleasures has been learning  that sharing is the most marvellous experience.  I really think that if I could wave a magic wand everyone would be born a twin.  Sharing would become the most natural way for us all to be and I really believe the world would be a better place for it.  How many of the worlds problems are caused by selfishness, jealousy or possessiveness?  Those emotions just don’t work if you’re a twin.  Sharing is an easy form of generosity where you don’t have to give everything away, just share it with who you choose.  It truly is a soul growing  positive experience to share what you cherish, what you love.   I ‘think it would be great if people could try thinking like a sharer for just one week and see the difference it could make to their lives and those they love.   It would be interesting to see how much they could find to  share.

20) Stairway to Heaven

My brother Ray

I would have thought that as a soul, when I believe I chose my earth family, I would have tried to incorporate even a little harmony into the mix. I often look at other families and to me they look ‘smooth’, it’s like they dovetail together and everyone fits in.  Through my life I have met many people who are fortunate enough to share an easy relationship with their siblings.  Of course, I’m not saying for one minute, that is always the case, but speaking generally it seems quite usual.  I don’t count the usual sibling bickering when growing up, as a major problem, because it  is quite normal  as people’s personalities are coming to the fore as major clashes.

If you watch a litter of young cats or dogs you will observe the same spats as they are growing up and trying to assert themselves within their ‘family’.  It seems to be the way of the world, not just with us humans but within the animal kingdom to a large extent too.

I am sure that I decided to choose one of my siblings who was so very different from me in many ways,  in order to challenge my views and to teach me a myriad of life’s lessons.  It is often said that you learn by example, but  in my case, I often had to  look at what my brother did, the decisions he made and basically do the opposite!  I refer to Ray as our older brother, because being a twin, I shared him with my sister, which maybe was a good thing, because I think it diluted him a little.

I often likened my brother to a diamond with its many facets because he had so many different aspects to his personality.  You were never sure what you were going to get and it was quite imperceptible to even understand from hour to hour which would be his dominant personality trait.  He could be the most gentle caring and generous person you could ever meet, but within a short space of time you could be faced with a very different man who appeared to be full of selfish needs and could be considerably rude and abusive.  He was certainly tough to understand, and I don’t think even now I could say I ever really managed that.

Our older brother, by five years, Ray, was  a massive personality.  On the plus side he was immensely talented as a writer (he won a national story competition when he was 11), a brilliant artist and a talented musician.  He was outgoing with the most engaging sense of fun and perfect timing for comedy.  He had what I would call a quiet interest in all things spiritual, and possessed an inner  knowing, a deep understanding of life and a wonderful appreciation of the natural world. Sadly very few people ever saw that side of Ray, it was like he wore a dark cloak of protection around him and only those incredibly close and trusted, one of whom I was so fortunate to be, would ever get to see the real gentle and spiritual side to him.

He was attractive to women, of whom he had many calling and falling for him from an early age.  All our friends thought it must be so fantastic to have such a talented and good-looking brother and would even ask if he would be home before they arranged to come and visit, just hoping for a glimpse or even just a hello from him.  He undoubtedly had a magic about him which endured throughout his lifetime.  He was a natural charmer, easily making  friends wherever he went.  He was a magnet that most people found almost impossible to resist.

On the negative side, he was outrageous with no respect for rules or authority. Always in trouble, from a very early age, he spent many of his teenage years in approved school, then in and out of  borstal, and as he matured, he advanced to prisons.  It never fazed him in the slightest.  The rest of the family would be falling apart but he took it in his stride. It was never for very long and Ray saw it more as an enforced break, often he would write wonderful songs or stories and use the time to learn new skills before he would rejoin the world.

Invariably his earlier custodial sentences were due to his involvement with illegal motor bikes and cars, and when he was older for driving dangerously and at crazy speeds.  He had a desperate need for excitement. When I would ask him why he would drive like a maniac, he just used to say that he enjoyed the high, the buzz, the thrill of it.  He said he enjoyed the chase, the adrenalin charging through his veins.  I never understood. We were complete opposites in this regard.  I have always preferred peace, quiet, calm and steady, and the safety of rules and regulations.

I watched as our parents tried everything they could to make their young son conform, but it was just a waste of time.  He truly was a free spirit, a young brave who would have been an asset to the tribe, had his father been a native American chief.  He would have ridden his powerful stallion across the open lands and bravely fought for his tribal rights.  He would have understood the nature spirits, the shamanic laws, the mother earth.  Adorned with headdresses of feathers and shells, with his wolf by his side, I am sure he would have felt complete.  Instead he felt confined in our western society and kicked like a young buck against the rules which he felt should play no part in his life.

With Ray as my older brother, the age gap appeared much wider when we were younger.  As a young girl of seven or eight, Ray being then twelve or thirteen, seemed so grown up. I always felt he was my defender, somehow I felt safe with him around, which in hindsight was quite the opposite of how I should have felt. He appeared worldly-wise and being so unafraid of anything, he would take us out on fantastic adventures.  He always made the most of every opportunity for experiencing anything and everything.  He would always give anything a try.

On our many excursions during school holidays we would often go much further than our parents would have allowed.  He would ask Mum if it was ok to take us to the village for a couple of hours, but then we would find that he had planned that we would catch a train.  I’m not talking the usual way of catching a train.  There was no way that Ray would line up and pay for a ticket, no, he knew where the holes were in the chain link fence near the station and we would crawl through the undergrowth, sneak along the tracks and wait in hiding behind the station buildings for a train to arrive.  Then we’d scurry on board, and with our hearts thumping with excitement we’d be off to wherever the train took us.  That was part of the magic, never knowing where we’d end up. I don’t know how we never got caught without a ticket, but we never did!

Buses were always more of a problem with their conductors on board.  Ray would buy us tickets for 2d (yes two old pennies!) and we’d know that we’d have to get off at a certain stop, but Ray would make certain that we’d travel on crowded buses where the conductor wouldn’t notice us straight away if we stayed on the bus a little longer.  His plan didn’t always work and many a time we were thrown off the bus because we had no more money to cover our extended journeys.  Then there would be the inevitable long walks, normally through forests and across muddy fields.  Even these arduous treks would be made magical by Ray’s wonderful stories about the nature surrounding us and the mysterious creatures that lived there.  He would concoct the most amazing tales to keep us enthralled as we wearily made our way home. We were far too loyal to him to ever tell our parents of our law breaking.

He had played a guitar since we were very young and my memories of falling asleep whilst he played to us are always close to my heart.  My favourite song through many of my earlier years was Yellow Bird, which he would sing so softly to us, ‘Yellow bird, high up in banana tree, yellow bird, you sit all alone like me.’ So very different to the heavy rock he would end up playing as lead guitarist and singer with his band.

Ray led his adult life as a rock’n’roller, rubbing shoulders with those who had ‘made it’, but never quite getting there himself.  He ran various businesses, many of which were very successful, but he would soon become bored.  He had his own commercial recording studio and was in his element involved in music.  He always felt the need to escape from the confines of our culture and sadly relied heavily on serious drug use and at times became embroiled in a life surrounded by drugs.  He tried many times to move away from drugs, but in a strange way, when he managed it, his senses appeared dulled and his lust for life diminished as he tried to conform. His was known locally simply as Animal – his friends said it was because he was a party animal – which he was through and through.

When I was in my mid-teens Ray and I would sometimes spend a couple of days together at his flat.  I  felt so blessed that the Ray I normally shared my time with was wonderfully funny, gentle, and considerate. I was sure he made a huge effort for me. He’d take me out to some wonderful bistro for dinner and treat me like a real princess.  We would have the most deep and meaningful talks about life, our family, our souls, our choices.  They are still magical memories which I will always treasure. When it was just Ray and I together I felt so proud that he was my brother, but when I, quite regularly, read local newspaper reports about his appalling behaviour,  I would wonder how he could behave so differently, and dreadfully, with his close bunch of friends. I never found an explanation and could never reconcile the two extremes.

Ray’s flat was painted completely in black, and had mysterious red lights shining out of dark corners, it smelt of odd substances,dust, wine and old ashtrays.    There were candles everywhere which had been replaced many many times, but the remains of the old candles were still evident. Heavy dark velvet curtains were hung at every window, and strangely were very rarely pulled back. It was like walking into an underground cave where you would expect bats to fly at you.

The furniture was odd and bulky with old dusty velvet cushions placed everywhere.  All the wood in the flat had been acid washed back to its natural finish, and somehow it always felt sticky.

He had built a large rustic wooden cabin over his bath, complete with psychedelic lighting and speakers, so that you could lay in the bath and listen to the heavy rock music that was always playing in his home.

Huge amplifiers and speakers were in the sitting room, and his collection of electric guitars were everywhere. Shelves upon shelves of albums of his favourite bands were jostling for space in the crowded room with an ever-expanding odd array of artwork, ornaments and writings adorning every wall or shelf.

Massive mugs of tea or coffee, barely washed from many uses before, were offered along with his unusual home-made cakes and biscuits which contained a selection of various herbs and spices and which had a reputation to make you feel quite odd!  I learnt to avoid them.

He’d always want to play me the latest album he had just acquired and on one particular visit he had just bought Led Zeppelin IV.  He wanted me to hear his favourite track, Stairway to Heaven.  As the music boomed out of the speakers, loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear, he opened his french doors and we stood, arms wrapped around each other,  looking up into the dark sky picking out each twinkling star we could find.  He was telling me how we are all  from the stars, from the universe, how massive the galaxy is.

I remember thinking just how perfect the evening was with my big brother, when a very strange feeling came over me.  The garden appeared to be moving and my head felt odd.  I started to feel sick.  I told Ray I wasn’t feeling well.  ‘Ah, darling’,  he said, with a wry smile, ‘might have been the tea’.  He had, he said, added ‘magical’ ingredients.  My legs were like jelly. It took what felt like hours to get from the french doors to my bed in the spare room, which was not easy as the bed was built only a foot or so from the ceiling and I had to climb a ladder to get up there. Ray was laughing and singing to me  ‘There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold And she’s buying the stairway to heaven’.   It certainly didn’t feel like heaven to me!

9) Pick’n’mix!

Pick'n'Mix

The more I’ve been coming to the realisation that I am a spirit living a human existence, the more I’ve been thinking about the life choices my soul made before I began this human life.

Pick 'n Mix

I have the feeling that when  it came to choosing my parents I was like an excited child in a sweet shop.  There were just so many choices, and metaphorically speaking, I filled my pink striped sweetie bag with the many personality traits and ensuing emotions that I wanted to experience during my upbringing.  A real mixture of sweet and sour, soft and crunchy, chewy and creamy, fruity and nutty! I am sure my guides must have been exasperated trying to find parents that would fulfill my criteria.  I think on the whole they did fairly well!

I was born the youngest of identical twins, with a brother five years older than us and we had to share parents who were definitely interesting and would certainly teach us many different and opposing lessons.

My Dad, known as Ken, was tall and slim with broad shoulders, sandy wavy hair,  and the most wonderful twinkling blue eyes.  He was a charmer, with a fantastic dry wit and I could see why my Mum had initially fallen him.

Dad and his twin sister Mary were born in 1926, into a large and very poor working class family in Hendon, North London.  His Mother Selina, was known as ‘the girl with second sight’ in the village where she was born in Scotland and  Dad said she always ‘knew’ things that were unexplainable.

My Mum, Sheila, was four years younger than Dad and although she lived less than three miles from him, in Golders Green, their upbringings were poles apart. There were many romanticized rumours of Irish blood, a  Hungarian Jewess and even a Marquis somewhere in her ancestry.  Mum was raised in a liberated, educated,  middle-class environment, as an only child, by her Father Ray, and an eclectic collection of  aunts.  She was told her Mother, whom her Father had not married, had abandoned her when she was a baby.

Mum was very attractive, tall, possessing a wonderful perfect 36:24:36 figure, with shapely long legs, silky mahogany hair and huge brown eyes framed by incredible, natural long eye lashes she always attracted the attention of men.

The saying ‘opposites attract’ could have been written with Mum and Dad in mind.

Mum would like to invite many friends round, put on loud music and dance around the sitting room singing and laughing.   Dad would prefer to sit quietly, reading a book or listening to classical music. Mum was liberal and carefree as a parent, Dad was strict and ensured that his long list of rules were adhered to.

Mum loved to go out and socialize, whereas Dad would prefer to be at home pottering around the garden. Mum was a free spirit and hated being tied down to routine, Dad insisted that Sunday lunch was on the table at exactly 1 o’clock and tea at 5 o’clock, not a minute later.

Dad was a saver and didn’t like to spend money if he could possibly help it, Mum loved nothing more than going shopping!

Their marriage was a match made in hell in so many ways.  Why they ever married I never really understood.  Was it my fault?  Was it my ‘parent order’,  made many years before in the universal sweet shop, that made them meet and marry?  Or, had there souls asked, maybe even  jointly, to experience a fifty year marriage to a partner with absolutely nothing in common? I hope to find out one day.

My parents were, separately, great people, but together, my goodness, sparks flying is the understatement of the year! Mum’s temper was instant and would flare within moments, my Dad would simmer and then explode like a violent volcano.   What a combination!  Did I really ask to experience these traits? I must have done, but with hindsight I feel just one parent with a temper would have been enough.

As we became older, their rows became more physical.  More and more of their possessions were smashed, damaged and broken as they hurled them at each other.  Luckily neither of them were good shots and they very rarely managed to hit their targets!

I can’t even begin to count how many times one or  the other left.  Normally in the middle of a heated row a few items would be hurriedly stuffed  into a few carrier bags and we children would be  wondering who was leaving this time.  If our Mother left we would normally leave with her, and in a strange way it was always an adventure full of excitement and wonderment.  We wouldn’t know where we were going or who we’d be staying with.  In fact it was through many of these surprise breaks from home that we got to know some of our more interesting far-flung relatives, who I am sure we would have never met under normal circumstances.  Then, sometimes within a few days, or at most a couple of months, there would be an emotional reunion, all would be forgiven (but I am sure not forgotten), the family would be back together again and the house would be full of love and laughter again.

As I said, separately, they were marvellous parents. I learnt so many different facets of life  from each of them.  Dad had a wonderful way of bringing nature to life.  We would spend many hours in the garden together where he would teach me the magic of growing the most beautiful plants.  We discussed the wonderment of mother earth and the natural beauty of the planet. He taught me that divine power was within everyone and everything.

I would sit holding his huge hands whilst we would be listening to the most haunting classical music, both of us with tears rolling down our cheeks, almost unable to cope with the emotions the music would arouse in us. I shared a very close spiritual connection with my Dad from my earliest memory and I am sure that it will transpire that we have been together in many lives before.

With  a wicked sense of humour Dad would have the whole house  full of laughter.  He had a wonderful collection of his own stories that we would beg him to re-tell again and again, many of them included mystical creatures with the most wonderful names, like Ika-mo-blob-a-spit, who I remember was a special dragon with magical powers.

Dad had been aware of spirit since he was five when his twin sister, Mary, had been killed in a road accident. He had seen her throughout his childhood and still spoke to her as I was growing up. He also used to spend time talking to my late Grandfather, who had died before I was even born.

Mum was always extremely well-groomed, with her perfectly applied make up, and  looking more like a model than a Mum, she was surprisingly cuddly and very caring.  She adored playing with us and had an enormous amount of patience helping us with our schoolwork.  She always said that her favourite time in her whole life was when we were all young. I think having missed out on a Mother’s love in her own childhood she never wanted us to feel the loss and pain she had felt.

She was a fantastic cook and we would spend hours preparing big family dinners together.  She’d always have popular music blaring out of the record player and depending on what was playing we would often stop cooking and be jiving and bopping around the kitchen.

She was a very good medium herself although she only used her gifts to help those who were close to her.  Interested in all things spiritual,  Mum often took herself off to what I thought at the time were mysterious meetings.  She would come home and tell me all about it, but I was too afraid to pay much attention, but I do remember that her guide was a gypsy girl called Topsy.  That terrified me, thinking that Topsy would appear at any moment as I was sure that she would be hiding in the house somewhere and would be watching me.

Mum instilled rules for life in me that I still try to live by.  Her overwhelming wish was that everyone would treat each other as they would like to be treated.  She would do anything for anyone and over the years I saw her befriend and help many people.  It was just a shame that she and my Father didn’t adhere to the same philosophy when it came to their own relationship!

Every house we lived in was full of spirits.  All of us were aware of them.   I often saw faces on walls, people at windows and shadows moving across the landing.  As I grew older more and more things would be happening to all of us, no matter which house we lived in.  My most worrying times were when the towels would be moved from the towel rail in the bathroom.  You could just be sitting on the loo and watch them, one by one, fall onto the floor.  I used to be too afraid to move and would yell for Mum to come and rescue me. She’d always walk in and just say “God Bless You, now please leave” and tell me everything would be fine, but it was never fine for very long.

I question now if there was so much energy in our house due to the heightened emotions of my parents.

Throughout their lives they both suffered with serious illnesses and it was during these times that their love for each other really shone out.  The only problem was that when both were well they would start arguing, all over again!

I asked for a mixed bag of sweets, and that’s certainly what I received.  I can’t imagine now having any other parents who would have given me such a broad spectrum of emotions and experiences throughout my childhood. Yes, I would have preferred them not have spent so much arguing, but then I am sure that within their difficult relationship were lessons for all of us within the family.

I do  think that we tend to concentrate on the lessons we are taught by our parents, but what we must not forget is that they too are developing spirits, and would have chosen souls with our attributes to be their children.  What a massive testament to the incredible organisational  skills of spirit to bring together the right people, in the right place and at the right time.  I can only imagine that from the millions of souls  they look for a ‘best fit’.  What a headache it must be!

My parents love was the greatest gift I ever received.   My childhood wasn’t calm, rarely plain sailing, it wasn’t often easy, but what it showed me is that love overcomes everything and is everything.

7) Choosing our lives?

The master plan to do list

It’s amazing how many spiritually minded people I’ve met over the years who have experienced what I would call ‘complicated’ lives.

I do wonder sometimes if people become more spiritually aware because they have had to overcome difficulties in their lives, or,  were they born ‘knowing’ that they had chosen to walk a problematic path through life because their soul was already spiritually aware?

In my own experience it has been rare to talk to anyone at a workshop or in a spiritualist church, circle etc who has not gone through some pretty traumatic events in their life.  You may say, well that goes for everyone, but I truly believe that is not the case.  I have known many, many people over the years, who have had what I would call, easy lives, and who are not at all interested in anything spiritual.

So, (avoiding the are we/aren’t we  re-incarnated discussion for the moment) if we accept that we are re-incarnated, then when we are ‘ in-between’  lives do we sit with a long list of experiences that we can choose for our next life?  Do we somehow get ‘points’ for each testing experience we manage to work through,?  Do more points make for an easier life the next time or is it like a ladder of achievement where we move further and further up the more points we have accumulated?

Are we given a series of  budgets of sorts for various parts of our life.  For example, we would have an emotional budget/a body budget/intelligence budget etc, etc.  So we can choose, from the body budget, for argument’s sake, to have beautiful eyes and good skin, but that to keep within budget we may also have to choose to have knock knees and big feet?  Or, could we choose to be the most intelligent person in the world and know that we are going to inherit a vast amount of money but end up blowing all our inheritance  on an invention that never takes off?  Sometimes, though, we may be given the choice of a limitless budget, where in our naivety we choose what we consider at the time to be the best financial circumstances, the very best parents, the most amazing healthy and beautiful body, just to find that these set of circumstances don’t actually give us any spiritual warmth but that they may in fact teach us invaluable lessons.

Do we choose experiences just for us, or do we sometimes choose them so that others can learn, grow, or blossom from dealing with us/our problems/our conflicts etc?

In our ‘in-betweeny’ lives, when our souls are in a place of perfection, does the list seem less daunting?  I do believe that I thought I could conquer the world when I was sat there with a pen in my hand, ticking away, with no realisation of how very distressing, painful and troubling so many of my choices would be and how very long this life might seem once I was here!

Thankfully, and hopefully, most of my trials and tribulations are behind me (unless I stupidly ticked even more boxes that I am yet unaware of) and I do feel that I am in a much happier and peaceful place in my life now.  If living this life is about learning lessons I certainly feel I have been in the classroom long enough, and if there is an exam at some point I have without doubt spent many years on revision and should pass with flying colours.

Does some higher power choose for us?  Or … the really big question I used to ask  ….  is it all totally out of our control?  Is everything random?  I am positive that is not the case.  An excellent medium and friend, Susan Roberts, from Barnstaple, North Devon, gave me the most accurate readings from my loved ones in spirit several years ago, which included some information about my future.  At the time I didn’t dare to believe her prophecies because they were so positive and exactly what I had secretly wished for.  Everything she said, to the minutest detail, happened, just as she had explained.  So, obviously there was a plan in place, somewhere, which she (or her guides) could access. I just thank my lucky stars that I actually ticked a few good boxes along the with the challenging ones!

I would love to know the answer to these questions, but I am pretty certain that I won’t know the definitive answer until I’m sitting on a cloud somewhere, between lives, with my guides, going through yet another list!

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