27) Making New Memories

Mince Pie

Mum always made certain that even though she had three children she would make  time for each of us individually.  These times weren’t necessarily important dates or special occasions, just time we all had alone with Mum whilst we did everyday things.

Mum and I always used to make the mince pies for Christmas whilst the rest of the family would be in the lounge watching television.  In those days we would always wear a pinny when we were cooking.  I don’t know why really, because these days not many people ever do.  When we put our pinnys on it was almost a sign that we meant business, we were undertaking important and valuable work and we were set apart from the rest of the family in their civvies.

It was during these Christmas baking times that we would often chat about Mum’s life as a young woman, where she lived, what she did, who she shared her life with.  She had the most wonderful knack of talking about how life affected her when she was the same age as us.  It bought to life, in our minds, her history.  When I was growing up I always seemed to think of Mum and Dad’s childhood in black and white, like an old movie.  I always thought that their clothes would have been scratchy for some reason.  Strange what goes through children’s minds.

Mum had a difficult childhood, bought up by her Dad and a variety of Aunts, until her Dad married when she was nine years old.  She adored her Dad more than anyone in the world and would often become tearful when she talked about the wonderful Christmas’s she shared with him.  He had died before I was born, and she never really managed to overcome her grief.  I found that very hard to understand as a child, especially as I had never met him, so he didn’t seem real to me, even though Mum told me so much about him.  It was as if she was describing an old film she’d seen.

Something though that Mum said, that has always stuck in my mind, was that she always felt it was important to make new memories.  Not to erase the old ones, but to add to our itinerary of memories, to make our own histories. That seemed strange when I was a young girl, but as I’ve grown older I do understand what she meant by that.

We all have times in our lives that our thoughts go back to, especially at Christmas.  Times we wish with all our hearts that could be repeated right now. People that have passed through our lives who we miss and wish that we could be with once again. In Mum’s case it was definitely time that she spent with her Dad.  She would have given the world to spend even just a few moments with him once more.

I cherish the memory of my Dad singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve the last Christmas he was alive. We were at a very grand party and the local choir were singing traditional carols.  We were in a huge elegant room with a grand piano and we were sat on the type of furniture you normally only see in stately homes.  The type where the ropes are around them to stop the public touching it!  It really wouldn’t have mattered where we were, my memory is of my Dad’s twinkling blue eyes, his warm smile and his deep rich voice.  I was so very proud of him. I would give anything to be back at that party with my Dad.

I cherish the memory of Mum and I cooking Christmas dinner, drinking too much sherry, and laughing and giggling like a couple of teenagers whilst we jived around the kitchen to ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’.

I cherish the memory of my daughter rushing into my bedroom first thing in the morning, so excited to tell me that Father Christmas had been, with her arms full of presents that she wanted to open on my bed.

I cherish the memory of Ray, my brother, playing his guitar, making up his own silly verses to Christmas Carols, whilst drinking his favourite brandy and coke.  ‘Merry Crimbo’ he used to say.

I cherish the memory of my twin sister, Tina and I, waking up to find chocolate santas lined up around our beds and beautiful party dresses, one made for each of us, hanging on our wardrobe door.

So many memories of wonderful Christmas’s, but now, as they say, those days are gone.  It’s tough.  I know it always will be. If I could just snap my fingers and be back there just once more …………..

Now, I have new memories to make.  Memories where in the future I’ll look back and long for these days.  Where I’ll wish with all my heart to be able to share these times once more. That’s the Christmas I’m going to have with the people who are in my life right now, the people I share these special times with, the people I hold dear and love and cherish.  This Christmas will be part of my history.

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26) A Nudge from a Kindred Spirit

English: Instow from Appledore quay.

Occasionally through your life-time you may be fortunate enough to meet a person with whom you immediately feel an enormous connection.  I don’t necessarily mean a romantic love type of connection, but something maybe even deeper, more spiritual or soulful.  There is an instant bond between you that belies the actual length of time you have known them in this physical existence.  It is difficult to explain the overwhelming affection, fondness and sense of pure freedom you feel when you are with them.  The freedom when you know, totally, that you are accepted and loved for who you are, not how they perceive you to be, or how you may usually portray yourself, but just exactly as you.  It is a strange feeling of being stripped bare.  You know that this person knows you to an extent that very few ever will.

I felt so blessed to have met my very dear friend Janet.  We met at a creative writing class in Bideford, North Devon.  From the moment I saw her I recognised her, but not in the way she looked, more in the way she just ‘was’.  There was a familiarity that I had never really felt with anyone apart from my own family.  It was wonderful and odd all at the same time.  After the first class she asked me if I would like to join her for a coffee.  I didn’t hesitate, it was as if I needed to know more about her.  Not just a passing inquisitiveness, it was almost a pull from the depth of me, I felt I had found someone who I knew would play a uniquely special role in my life.

We couldn’t stop talking and before we knew it several hours has passed.  We both expressed how from the very first moment we met we  felt we had known each other forever.  Janet said that she felt I was her daughter or her sister in a previous lifetime and I could completely understand what she was saying.  The thought that she was my Mother resonated more with me, although at the time I still had my own wonderful Mum alive and well and living with me!  My heart felt the same emotion of attachment that I felt for my Mum, but in an even deeper sense, which on the face of it was crazy as I had only known Janet since that morning.

Our friendship grew and we enjoyed our times together so much.  We never ran out of anything to say.  We would have times full of laughter and sunshine and times of intense conversations about anything and everything.  The honesty between us was extraordinary.  The trust was implicit.  I had never known a relationship like it.

Very strangely, when we compared notes, we had lived within a few miles of each other several times during this life time.  This would have been odd if we had always lived in the same town, but both of us had lived in several counties over the years.  When we met we were both living in North Devon, she was in Bideford and I was living in a small village a few miles away. Amazingly though, years earlier, when I had lived in one property in Exeter, the view from my kitchen window was actually Janet’s house! We both felt that it was far too much of a coincidence and that we were destined to meet.

We would often go for a coffee at a quaint pub, The Boathouse,  overlooking the sandy beach at Instow in North Devon.  It is a small village off the tourist route with the most glorious sand dunes and views across the estuary to Appledore, a  picturesque Devon village with pastel coloured cottages dotted along the waterfront.  We would sit in the window of the pub and watch the sun cast its shadows over the green hills behind Appledore and watch the sail boats wafting by.  We would sit and discuss our spiritual experiences, our thoughts and our understanding of the greater picture of life.   She was totally convinced that we had shared many lifetimes before and that was why the bond between us was so strong, and the more I got to know her, the more I tended to agree.  Our experiences and our perceptions on life were far too similar.

After our coffee we’d normally go for a walk out to the water’s edge, and then wander along the seafront back to the car park.    Janet never once complained about my limited ability as I was not able to walk too far, but with rests on benches along the way I still managed to enjoy our walks.  She was very slim and what I would call ‘super fit’.  A keen surfer and swimmer, she had joined the local gym when she had moved to Bideford, and thought nothing of going surfing for a few hours then back to the gym to do even more exercise for a couple more hours.   Her idea of heaven was to go on a hiking holiday around the islands of Greece or in the highlands of Scotland.

One cold day in mid February, we had enjoyed a warming cuppa at The Boathouse, and having wrapped ourselves up in scarves, hats and thick gloves, we started walking out towards the sea. In a very short time Janet became unusually tired, she suddenly looked extremely pale.  She told me she thought she might be coming down with a virus and so we turned around and headed back to the car.  I drove her home and was concerned because she really didn’t look at all well.  I asked her to go to the doctor and she reluctantly agreed.  I went home and felt uneasy all afternoon.  Just before dinner Janet rang me, and I was so relieved to hear her voice, but I was shocked by what she told me.  She was in hospital.  The doctor had checked her heart and it was so slow he had called an ambulance immediately.  Janet explained that the consultant she had seen had told her that she would be having a pacemaker fitted the next day.  I was stunned by the news, but so pleased she was in the right place.

The following evening I went to visit her in the hospital and she was sitting on her bed looking happy and healthy.  Her colour was back to normal and she said she felt great.  She was laughing and telling me she had new rules to follow now that she had an electronic addition.  She said she couldn’t go through a security scanner in an airport, couldn’t stand next to a microwave and also that she would have to have the pacemaker removed if she wanted to be cremated when she died. Within a couple of days she was home and you would have never known she’s had anything wrong with her.

We resumed our walks on the beach and Janet carried on with her swimming and her gym workouts.  The only deference to her surgery was to give up the surfing until it was warmer.  The hospital was delighted with her  progress and she didn’t appear in the slightest bit concerned about having a pacemaker.  She was excited as she had just booked a hiking holiday with her brother.  They were going to Greece in later summer and were going to walk several miles along the coastline over the course of a few weeks.  She had thoroughly investigated the whole walk they were to undertake and was especially thrilled that it would culminate with a world-class opera performance in an open air amphitheatre.

I was at home in early March when I received a very distraught phone call from Janet.  She was at the hospital for a routine post-procedure check up to ensure that the wires of the pacemaker were in the correct place.  Part of the appointment was a chest X-ray.  She was told to sit and wait whilst the consultant checked her results and had been quite happy waiting as she was an avid reader and had taken a good book along with her.  She was obviously distressed when she rang and asked if I could go straight to her home to meet her when she returned from the hospital.  She said she didn’t want to talk about it from the hospital phone.

As soon as I saw her I just knew she was dreadfully worried.  She told me that the consultant had called her across to his desk and told her quite bluntly that he was seriously concerned with her X-ray and had made a further appointment with a chest specialist for the following morning as he felt something was majorly wrong.  With that unexpected news she was just given an appointment card and had been left on her own, absolutely bewildered.  She asked me if I would go with her the next day and of course I said I would.

We arrived at the chest department and were told to wait in a huge and very full waiting room.  Janet, who was normally such a confident and positive person, looked so nervous.  I prayed that the wait wouldn’t be too long.  She had already spent the whole night worrying about what may be wrong and said she had hardly slept, which wasn’t at all surprising.

Within just a few minutes we were called into the consultants office.  He had Janet’s chest X-Rays on a large illuminated board on the wall.  He was much kinder than the doctor she had seen the day before and very gently explained to her that both her lungs showed metastasis. He explained that she must have a primary tumour somewhere in her body and that the cancer had already spread to her lungs.    He told her that even if they found the primary site the secondary cancer had already spread too much for them to cure her.  It was a massive bombshell.  Janet  sat quietly, hardly uttering a word, visibly shaking,  with a look of fear I had never seen before.  He also said that even though he could offer chemotherapy it may only give her a few extra weeks and that the quality of her life would be reduced because of the treatment.  She immediately said that she wouldn’t take that option. He went on to explain that if she was fortunate she may have three months left to live, but he couldn’t guarantee that.  I felt utterly useless, there was nothing I could say or do to help her other than just being there.

With the words of the consultant still fresh in her mind it was evident that Janet was a crushed soul, I had to support her physically as we walked back to the car. I drove to a little pub overlooking the sea and we sat outside in the fresh air away from everyone.  For the first time since I’d known her she sat drinking brandy after brandy.  She was shaking so much she could hardly hold her glass,  all I could do was hold her hand and tell her that  I would be there for her.  We were both in a huge state of shock. It felt unreal. It was such a dreadful sad day.  I sat looking at my darling friend, such a beautiful person.  I was desperately trying to keep my own emotions in check, but failing miserably.  We hung on to each other, just sobbing and sobbing.  I couldn’t bear the thought of the pain and heartache that she faced and I couldn’t believe that my wonderful Janet was going to be leaving me. We had only known each just over two years and yet we truly were kindred spirits.

Over the next couple of months we spent an enormous amount of time together.  Janet’s appetite began to fade and the weight was falling off her already slender frame.  Braeburn apples became her favourite food and every time I visited she would ask that I bought her some.  I had never heard of them before, but it was so nice to see her enjoy eating, even if it was just fruit.  Her eyes gradually became sunken and her breathing laboured. We were fortunate to enjoy an unseasonably warm spring that year and spent much of the time sitting in her garden overlooking the countryside, watching the young lambs playing in the fields.  In her last weeks we discussed the afterlife and who would be meeting her, where she would be in the future and when we might meet again.  Just days before she passed to spirit she unexpectedly gave me a present, a book, The Alchemist, written by Paul Coelho.   She told me it was important that I read it.  I took it home, put it on the bookshelf and promised myself I would read it in the near future.

Janet’s brother and her two sons were visiting her over the weekend and I phoned her on Saturday, but could get no reply so had left her a message.  I had a prior engagement that evening and it wasn’t until the following morning that I checked my answer phone.  There was a beautiful message from Janet, spoken in short phrases between her gasps for breath.  She told me that she was sorry she’d missed my call but that she’d had a good day and that we would talk soon.  She also told me that she loved me. I rang her straight away and her brother answered the phone.  He was obviously upset and told me that Janet had died only a short while before I rang.  He said she had suffered a heart attack and that it was almost instant, and most importantly that she had not been in dreadful pain.  I put the phone down and just cried for hours, my heart-felt it had been ripped apart.  Even though I knew she was terminally ill, and I honestly thought I was prepared for her death, when it came to it I was not at all.  I had somehow convinced myself that she would still be around.  How could someone as vibrant and intelligent and funny and loving as Janet suddenly just not exist anymore?  How cruel. Life made no sense to me at that time. I felt lost without her.

Many years later I had a friend, Trudie, staying with me. Trudie  was a very good medium and worked as a communicator for spirit both privately and within the spiritualist church, often demonstrating her mediumship at services.  She walked into my bedroom one morning and just said “A woman is telling me braeburn apples and her name is Janet, does that mean anything to you?”  I was absolutely delighted because I hadn’t heard from Janet since she had passed to the spirit world.  “Yes”, I said, “it makes perfect sense.”  “Well”, said Trudie, “she is telling me that just before she died, the two of you were sitting in her garden in the sunshine”, “Yes” I replied, “and she is telling me that she gave you a present, a book”.  I was astounded at the accuracy of Trudie’s reading and confirmed what she was saying. “She is telling me that she told you it was important that you read the book, is that right?” she asked, “yes” I said, “I remember that well”, “She is telling me that you still haven’t read it and that it is even more important that you read it now”.  Wow, I thought, this was incredible. I spoke my thoughts aloud, knowing that Janet could hear me.  “I promise I will read it” I said.  She told Trudie to give me her love and then just went.  It was the shortness of the message that also spoke volumes to me because that is exactly how Janet would have said something she considered important when she was alive.

The next day, after Trudie left, I found the book and started reading.  I couldn’t put it down. I could see why Janet had been so insistent that I read it.  The book was wonderful and inspired me to look at where I was on my spiritual pathway, which spiritual teachers had been placed in my life, and most importantly, to recognise my destiny and  follow my dreams.

I was aware of Janet as I continued to read it, I could sense her approval, and see her twinkling eyes and her wonderful smile.  Due to personal circumstances in my life I had been ‘away’ from anything spiritual for a long while.   Her contact had come along at just the right time. I was sure the message was a huge nudge to get back on my rightful path,  as if she was saying “about time too, come on, get on with it!”.  I know Janet ‘s spirit is with me and that she is supporting me towards living my dream and pursuing my pathway.  Most importantly our friendship and our love lives on, we will always be kindred spirits.

http://www.paulocoelho.com

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!

15) I was a Catherine Wheel!

Dizzy thorns

I had been chronically ill for a long time when I went along to my first ever healing evening at a spiritualist church.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect and only went  to accompany a  friend.  I thought that as it was at a church we would all sit in rows, someone would talk to us about healing and that we might sing a couple of hymns and say a few prayers. I had no knowledge of healing, spiritual or otherwise, and didn’t expect the evening to be particularly special or eventful.

So I was surprised, when instead of rows, the chairs were  just dotted around the room, and as we walked in I was asked where I would like to sit.  I just chose the closest chair and felt a bit odd just sitting there, with no idea what was about to happen.  After a few of us had taken our seats the person in charge then allotted a healer to each of us.  A very old lady with a gentle smile came and stood beside me and introduced herself as Jeanie.  She explained that she was a student healer but that everything she did would be overseen by the woman in charge.  I immediately felt at ease and relaxed and just thought to myself that her healing may do some good and certainly wouldn’t do any harm.

The lady in charge said the most beautiful prayer and soft spiritual music was played. The room then became quieter and everyone spoke in hushed tones.  Jeanie stood in front of me and asked if I minded her holding my hands, which I said I didn’t at all.  She looked straight at me and said “I shouldn’t really be telling you this but I am sure I have your Dad with me,”  she went on to give a detailed physical description which exactly fitted him.  She told me that when she was healing she shouldn’t really be connecting to a spirit, but felt that she had to tell me my Dad was there because she felt his love so strongly.    Then she said something that I will never forget.  She said “he is telling me to tell you that if his love could cure you, you would be well”.  I was stunned, and desperately trying not to cry as they were the exact words that my Dad had said to me the previous summer when we had sat in my garden.  He had held my hands and told me he loved me and said that if his love could cure me I would be well!

I had been pretty certain that Dad was there because of Jeanie’s description, but that message just blew me away.  No-one would have known that Dad had said those very words to me.  I knew how upset both he and Mum had been seeing me so ill and feeling so useless at not being able to take away my pain, all they felt they could do was show how much they loved and cared for me.

Jeanie walked behind me and asked if she could then place her hands on my shoulders, which I said was fine.  She said if I wanted I could close my eyes.  I remember feeling quite overwhelmed by her message and then felt total peace as I closed my eyes and just listened to the music in the background.  The next thing I knew was that I was not aware of my body at all, it was the oddest sensation, I felt so light and like I was floating. I tried to feel my feet on the floor, but it was like they didn’t exist.  All I could see was the colour green, a bright vibrant green, like a fresh leaf in springtime with the sun streaming through it.  I was surrounded by it, enveloped by it and strange as it may seem, it was as if I was it.  I felt like I was a disc at the centre of me and I was spinning round and round.  The spinning became faster and faster and faster, all I can really say it that I was, or became,  just pure and utter bliss.  I tried to work out what I was and all I could come up with was that I felt like a Catherine wheel!

I was unaware that I had slumped forward in the chair and the next thing I knew was that the lady in charge was asking me if I was alright.  I felt dazed, and to be honest, almost a little annoyed to be bought back from ‘Blissville’.  Jeanie later told me that it was the most profound healing session for her.  She said she had never felt so much love coming through her.  I felt elated knowing that my Dad was there for me.

It was only several months later when I first started to  learn about chakras that I was surprised to read that chakras are discs that spin, sometimes described as energy vortices throughout the spiritual body.  The heart chakra is normally green and is  often associated with love and healing.  Now, when I meditate I sometimes visualise my chakras, working my way from the base chakra upwards through my body, and I always smile when I get to my heart chakra, because to me it will always be my very own Catherine wheel!

13) Everlasting Love

Love

I have been asked many times about the love we share with our partners, whether we are formally married or sharing our life with someone we love. The question that invariably comes up is this:  how,  if you love someone so very much,  can you manage to love someone else after they die?

This is something I often thought about,  having known several people who had obviously loved their husbands or wives, but had then successfully managed to find love with someone else.  Maybe they enjoyed such a wonderful relationship with their first partner that they hope to experience the same again.  There are of course also those who sadly never love anyone again.  This could be for many reasons.  Maybe they feel that they would be unable to risk losing someone they love all over again, and aren’t prepared to put themselves in the position of going through that pain once more.  Or, do they feel that their love was so strong it is irreplaceable?  Or might it be that they feel they would be being unfaithful to their past love?  This final thought is most probably the question I have been asked the most.  Would their partner in spirit feel they were being betrayed if they went on to love another?

When I was up in Scotland quite a few years ago, I was communicating with the husband, in spirit, of a woman who was distraught because she missed him so much.  She felt that it was wrong that she could ever be happy again without him.  She was concerned that he would feel that she hadn’t really loved him if she ever found love again.  I could feel the warmth of her husband coming through as he spoke to me.  He loved his wife very much and it pained him considerably to see her so lonely and unhappy.  He wanted her to be able to feel love once more.  I tried to convey this to her, but I really wasn’t sure that she believed me.

When I was back home, as I was washing up after dinner,  I heard his distinctive Scottish accent.  He asked me to send a poem he had written to his wife.  I was most surprised as I had never had such a request before.  This is exactly as he said:

Two hearts searching and look what we found, a love that is forever, that nothing can impound

You know I always loved you, you were the only girl for me, we shared our life on earth and shall be together, eternally

I hear your thoughts, I see your tears, I am concerned at your pain, but please know my darling, we will be together again

I shall look over you and gradually see your hurt subside, as the months turn into years, please know I’ll still be at your side

You still have a life to lead, and this I understand, you have to make your own choices and make your own plans

I love you so very much but I want you to feel free, and I know that you’ll never forget me as I live on in your memory

You will not stop loving me, I know that in my heart, but you may find someone to comfort you whilst we are apart

My dearest wish is your happiness whilst you live out your life, you may even marry again and become another’s wife

I give you my blessings for a life full of love, whilst I watch over you with joy from above

Knowing that you love me keeps my spirit alive, knowing that you are loved should help you to thrive.

I sent it to his wife who replied to me.  She said it was exactly as he would have put it and she felt for the first time since he’d  died that she could be free of guilt and able to move on and find happiness in her life.

To me, the poem from this man to his wife showed the deepest form of pure unselfish love.  Surely we all hope that our loved ones are happy and fulfilled.

The poem remained in my files for a long time until recently, one morning,  I suddenly felt that I should read it once more.

That very evening I was out with my husband and happened to be in close proximity to a couple of women who were talking.  I couldn’t help but overhear that one of them had recently been widowed, she spoke about going to see a stage medium but not receiving a message,  and it was obvious she was very unhappy.  I knew her husband’s spirit was with her right there at that very moment. Without even thinking about it I found myself explaining to her that I was a medium and telling her that her husband was beside her.  I could sense that he wanted me to give her a copy of the poem as it exactly conveyed his sentiments.  I asked for her phone number and I said I would call her.

I was, funnily enough, washing up the next evening and saw a vision of a man driving a lorry. I knew instinctively it was the lady’s husband.  He was urging me to phone her. Try as I might I couldn’t glean any more information from him and I was sure that he hadn’t communicated with a medium before.  As I went to ring her I faintly heard the name Natalie. I rang the lady and asked if her husband had been a lorry driver and she confirmed that he had.  I asked if she had an email address so that I could email the poem to her.  She said she didn’t, but she passed me to her daughter in law who gave me her email address, Natalie ………@yahoo.co.uk!  To me her name was further confirmation of  just  how important it was that I send the words.  I do hope that they helped her come to terms with the possibility of moving forward in her life and allowing herself to find love and happiness once again.

Isn’t it just amazing how spirit work?   How wonderful that I was inspired to read that poem that particular morning and then that I met that lady that same night?  It is often said that spiritual communications are based on pure love and the more I have experienced, the more I know that love continues and is everlasting.

If you feel that these words may help someone who feels the same about betraying a loved one in spirit, please feel free to copy it and send it with my blessing.

.

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.

5) Come and get me …..

A Black Cat Crosses My Path Every Day

Image by aturkus via Flickr

I have loved animals all my life, well, that is, apart from spiders, which tend to freak me out a little, but I am happy to catch them and put them back outside and must admit I have squashed the occasional wasp … sorry God … just can’t cope with them at all.

So, where was I? Oh yes, me and animals.  Ever since I can remember I have been surrounded by various pets.  My parents had an Alsatian when I was very young, Bruce, who I gather adored my twin sister and I because we would sit in our high chairs and call him ‘Fru’ (we couldn’t pronounce Bruce) and feed him anything that we didn’t like.  As an animal loving family we went on to have a collection of cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, tortoises, goldfish, tame hedgehogs and even a salamander.

When I first married at 22 I was feeling quite lost with no pets around me.  My twin had decided that she wanted a kitten and I knew she was going to look at a litter.  What I didn’t know was that she couldn’t bear to leave without the last kitten and arrived on my doorstep with a little black bundle of fluff with the biggest green eyes I’d ever seen.  Babs had arrived.  Her mother was Burmese, and her father was a moggie, but Babs didn’t like to even think about that, she looked and behaved like a full Burmese, which meant she felt she was far superior to any of the other cats in the neighbourhood.

She was never what you would call a cuddly kitten.  She would sit on your lap for a couple of minutes and then be off climbing.  I say climbing because that was one of her favourite past-times.  She would climb up the walls hanging onto the wallpaper, climb up the curtains and sit at the very top and then fly across the room and land on a top shelf, then spring off again and she’d be balancing on the top of the open door.  I had never known a cat like it.  We lived in a bed sit, so our bedroom was in our sitting room, or if you like, our lounge included a bed, whichever way you want to look at it – it was a small space and we had to share it with Babs.  In the middle of the night she sidled under the covers and took great delight in sharpening her claws on our unsuspecting feet or legs.  She was the wildest of cats.  She grew ever more wild as the months went on, to the point where she would sit in wait on our garden wall for the neighbour to come out into her garden and then leap off the wall and attack her.    For no apparent reason she would have violent outbursts attacking everyone and everything in sight. I was at my wit’s end.  I was covered in scratches and bites, everything in the flat was scratched and chewed.  She even hissed at me when I arrived home from work and would walk sideways growling, which is pretty scary!

I managed to get her into a wicker basket, and with her hissing and growling all the time we were on the bus, I took her to the vets to ask his advise.  I had always thought that if you treated an animal with love and affection they would respond lovingly, but Babs had taught me that she didn’t share that belief.  The vet tried to examine her.  I had warned him that she could be quite vicious but he assured me, in a very condescending manner, that with his vast experience he knew how to cope with any cat. By the time he had managed to get Babs back in the basket he had been bitten and scratched many times.  Babs had won.  He shook his head in disbelief and without any tact whatsoever, told me, that in his opinion there was nothing to be done except to have her put to sleep.  I looked into her beautiful green eyes and knew I just couldn’t agree to that and implored the vet to give me any other possible solutions.  He wearily muttered something about how some cats can calm down a little after they have had a litter of kittens.  Well that was obviously the answer, I thought, delighted that I had the ultimate excuse to have kittens around me for at least 8 weeks!

Babs duly complied and in a short space of time it was very obvious that she was pregnant.  She had always been very slim and now she had a very large tummy which we could actually see moving as her kittens were stretching and vying for position inside her.  Her tempestuous nature though hadn’t changed one jot, except as her pregnancy went on she did give up the climbing and leaping.  I was beginning to wonder if I had made the right decision.

Eventually, after what seemed an eternity, Babs went into labour.  I had been to the library and read all about kitten births and had everything at the ready, although everyone told me that she would be very independent and would most probably prefer me to just leave her alone.  I had made a kittening area in the corner of the bed sit, and was chuffed when Babs decided it was the perfect place to give birth.  I put on gentle music and soft lighting so that it could be a relaxing environment for her.

I went over and stroked her and spoke gently to her, telling her everything would be fine.  The contractions became stronger and I thought I should now leave her to it.  As I walked away she got up and followed me, so I went back to the corner and sat with her again, comforting her.  I could see that a kitten was due any second and really thought it was time for me to leave her, again, as I got up to leave she got up to be with me. OK,  I said, and I laid down beside her, and stroked her all the way through her first kitten being born.  Instinctively she knew exactly what she should do and within a short time the tiny little kitten was hooked on to one of Babs teats.  About ten minutes went by and contractions started again and another kitten was born.  I stayed with Babs the whole time, speaking softly to her, assuring her as best I could.  After just over an hour had passed she had given birth to six beautiful kittens.  I cleared up the area and gave her new soft towels to lay on.  What I had realised was how gentle she had been with me through the birthing and hoped it would continue.

From that day onwards our relationship changed dramatically.  She became the most wonderful cat I could wish for.  I became quite ill and had to undergo several operations, and she would sit beside me all day until the family came home. As I managed to walk a little further each day she would walk beside me.  Neighbours would comment that whatever time I came home from work, which could vary greatly day-to-day, Babs would wander up to the gate about five minutes before and be waiting for me.  She talked incessantly and would be telling me all about her day as we walked together along the path to the front door.  It sounds mad I know, but she would really be trying to talk to me, I could feel it.

Although she was great with me she still was not good at the vets, so much so that the vet would only examine her or give her  annual vaccinations if she had been tranquilized.  We did this for many years and for some reason I always felt like I was letting her down.  On one particular occasion she was due to have her pre-vet medication and as I was about to crush the tablets into her food I was sure I heard her thoughts.  She told me that she hated the feeling of being tranquilized and promised she would be very good at the vets.  I held her face in my hands and looked deep into her eyes, “ok” I said,” I’ll trust you, but you have to be on your best behaviour.”  If anyone had heard me they would have thought I’d gone mad.

The vets face was a picture of concern as the realisation dawned on him that Babs was not sedated in the slightest.  I took her out of her basket and put her on his examining table.  I told him that she said she would be good as gold.  He gave me a ‘that woman is crazy’  kind of look but was surprised how well behaved she was.  She was looking straight at me as he put the needle in the back of her neck.  I heard her say, by what I can only think was some kind of thought transference, see I told you I’d be good!

I was working but always had Mondays off work to do the washing/ironing, shopping etc.  This particular Monday had started off quite normally.  My husband went to work just after 8am and I took my daughter to school just before 9am.  I popped into the shops on the way home. I remember it was a lovely sunny late summers day.  We had moved into a brand new house in the January and hadn’t met many of the neighbours at all.  It seemed to me that every morning there was a mass exodus as everyone went to work, and the only time many people were around was on the weekend.

As I opened the front door  a feeling of utter doom came over me.  I started crying and as I walked into the kitchen I looked at Babs bowls and I remember hearing her say ‘come and get me’.  I knew she was dead.  I was howling.  I phoned my Dad and sobbed down the phone to him that Babs was dead.  He asked what had happened and I told him I didn’t know.  I said I didn’t know where she was but that I knew she was dead. My Dad tried to calm me down and told me that she was most probably fine.  He asked if I had called her and I said no, I knew there was no point.  I told Dad that I would go and find her and would phone him back.  I phoned my husband and told him too and I am sure he thought I had gone mad. He too told me to go looking for her and he thought she might have been locked in a garage or shed somewhere.  It was so difficult to explain to them that I knew absolutely that she was dead.  There was no point in looking for her in the garage.

I picked up a shopping basket and walked aimlessly down the road, looking at all the empty drives by the houses.  Eventually I saw a house with a car on the drive and knocked on the door, as it happened I had met the woman who answered and she could see I was very distressed.  I asked her if she would come with me and look for my cat.  She kindly agreed and I instinctively knew where to go.  We walked along the road, quite a way, we turned left, past more houses and finally I walked up a bank onto a single railway track.  Babs was lying on the track.  She had been hit by a train. I couldn’t bear to pick her up and had to ask the site manager if he could go and get her for me.  I phoned my Dad and told him straight away.  He asked me how I had known and I tried to explain.  Dad was always aware of spirits through his life and he said he thought it was because Babs and I had such a strong bond.  I phoned my husband and he was just stunned.  He came home from work straight away.  I felt desolate.

For many months afterwards I was aware of Babs walking up the bed and even now, many many years later, I am sure I see her momentarily.  She was one very special cat and I shall never forget her.

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