Tuesday, July 03, 2012

put aside your skepticism

For just a moment, turn away from your understandable suspicion, your disbelief in things you cannot see, and let me tell you a story. Listen to me with the openness we had as children, an age when we all willingly believed in what is mysterious and magical, for this tale, while true, is hard to accept.

I've told you before about my mother, who vanished on a cold Sunday morning, a few days before Christmas of 1969. It was a singular event in my life and in the lives of my family members. There is tragedy and heartbreak in losing one so loved to death. And it is a different kind of tragedy, an endless heartbreak, for someone to go missing for over 40 years.

There was before, and there is after. In more than forty years of after, we've never been able to really let go, to grieve and move on, and we've marked the transitions of life and the passage of our ordinary days always wondering. What happened? Where could she have gone?

Often, I would look at my father, now nearly 95, and think "it's not possible she could still be living." She would be so old, and surely in ill health, alone and lonely, and troubled by the same demons that drove her out the door that frigid December morning. But if not alive, then where could she be? Where is her body? Wouldn't her secrets be finally revealed in death? For 20 years, I've fought to keep her on my state's missing persons list, the oldest case in Oklahoma, but nothing has come of it. Nothing.

Two years ago, my very smart, rational, science-minded Republican sister, 66 years old, happened into a small encampment in Florida called Cassadaga. There, she encountered mediums and psychics, first one, and then another, for this was a small village devoted to the mysterious arts and whether you believe or do not believe, they are there, a flock of working spiritualists, and they are busy.

I know. Their busy-ness is no indicator of truth, just in the willingness ~ sometimes desperation ~ of people to believe in something that soothes their pain, or illuminates an uncertain future in a way that engenders hope. And isn't that what we all want? A bit of soothing, some certainty, something to hope for? And might that cause us to believe the unbelievable? Of course.

And yet, a skeptical Karen entered the medium's lair, was seated, and before she could even speak, the medium drew back, looking alarmed, and exclaimed, "oh, oh, there is someone rushing at me, she is pushing everyone aside."

Everyone. Yes. I know the images that will evince for most of you, the very idea that we are surrounded by the spirits of those long gone, that they can be invoked simply by a willingness to believe they are there. And yet it is possible, I now know this. It is possible even if we cannot set aside the flood of disbelief that wells when someone says these things aloud. Sometimes, as with Karen, we have only to show up, skepticism in tow. But even if we cannot believe ~ if you cannot ~ it changes nothing. It happened. It is true, and disbelief, yours or mine, does not change the fact of it.

I must continue, so come along with me, and if you can, push it aside, that sense you have that I've gone a little mad, succumbed to the kind of new age craziness that sometimes afflicts women and men in their middle years. Listen. Because the spirit who rushed the medium to get to my sister, the one who pushed "everyone" aside, gave us answers to the questions we've had since that ghastly day in 1969.

What happened to Audrey? Why did she leave? How could she have stayed away, never to have reached out, not once?

If you've been here before, you will know that, like my sister, I am also reasonably smart, and science-minded, but also artsy and romantic, so you will naturally suspect my interpretation of events. I want to believe, I admit it. I love the idea of the unknown becoming known and I inhabit my own imagination as if it's another, very real, world.

So do not believe me, as I am suspect, but believe Karen, who conversed with our lost mother 41 years after she vanished. Because you do not know them, either Karen or Audrey, you can't know how unsettling it was, how difficult to accept, but that it was my mother, I have no doubt.

There were dozens of proofs, dozens. A complete stranger in a part of the country where none of us have lived before knew details of my mother's pre-internet disappearance she could never have known. Karen's appearance before the medium was not preceded by an appointment, or signing in, or any of the myriad ways a bit of information can be given and research obtained. The trip to Cassadaga was done on a whim.

Karen's appearance was unheralded and the medium a stranger. It seems impossible that one can speak to the dead, but this happened and it is real, though unbelievable, I admit. The medium revealed everything: where she left from and why, what was happening to her at the time, where she went and with whom, and most importantly, that she had died in 1993.

Listen. I know you are scoffing, having gathered back into yourself your skepticism and unwillingness to believe in things unseen because it's more comfortable that way, to believe only in truth we can verify, touch, or experience ourselves.

But listen, and know this is true. It was my mother, of that I am certain, as certain as I am that my eyes are brown and my once red hair has gone silver, that I am living and breathing in Tulsa on a hot Thursday in July. As certain as I am that most of you will not believe, though a childlike part of you, before you fall asleep tonight, may whisper "what if?"

Believe this: my mother, her spirit, had to make amends to move on, and more importantly, she needed to know that we could forgive her for walking out that chill morning in 1969, that we could let go of our pain and anger and years and years of wondering, of not knowing, of never being able to grieve for her. She needed our release and we gave it.

We performed a ritual goodbye, Audrey's three daughters, committing a last loving act of forgiveness and letting go. For two years, we have had a sense of peace that's been missing for the previous forty. And her spirit, my mother's, was healed. You're frowning, I suspect, thinking "how could she know?" but that, that knowing, is for another day. About the 40 year mystery of my mother, though, I finally know, and I believe. I am at peace and so, at last, is Audrey.

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Blogger more cowbell said...

Wow ... I want to hear the rest of the story! Folks may pass things like this off as "crazy", but isn't it just as crazy, believing that we humans possess all the understanding and knowledge of the universe, including things unseen?

July 05, 2012 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Carol Schaefer said...

I am so happy for you and your sisters. I cannot imagine the anguish you all carried through so much of your life. What does it matter if no one else believes. This was your miracle moment...your gift. How awesome!

July 05, 2012 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Mick O'M said...

It must have been some incredible force for a mother to leave a child like you.

July 05, 2012 12:12 PM  
Blogger Tony Adams said...

keep going. I'm listening.

July 05, 2012 1:20 PM  
Blogger Susan McKinney de Ortega said...

Wow, what a wonderful post! boy, do you have a story!!
Why don't you start it? Send me a chapter if you want.
I, for one, believe in mediums, spirits, all of that and need no convincing at all. My 17-year old daughter has all of those powers. When my husband's niece went missing, her mother went to various shamanes here in San Miguel de Allende. One day we asked Carla if she could see her cousin, China. Carla concentrated and said, yes. China was with a woman in a white t-shirt who sold tacos. The woman was taking care of her.
We took it literally, until her body was found about a year late. Then Carlos realized that China's grandmother, now dead, used to sell tacos.
Keep this up!!
Your writer pal,
Susan McKinney de Ortega

July 05, 2012 2:23 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I find stories like this one intriguing and reassuring and alarming in equal measure and it's tough to dismiss it since it's coming from you. The closest experience I've had in this field was when I finally arranged to have my Mother's ashes interred in the same spot where my Father's had been buried. I felt a tremendous sense of a spirit with me for about an hour that day, as I toured the arboretum and enjoyed the sunshine. Of course, being the rational scientist-type, I put it down to a release of obligation, of the guilt I'd felt in leaving this task so long undone, but I couldn't shake the feeling that my Mother had thanked me.

July 05, 2012 3:41 PM  
Blogger norm said...

At times, I can tell who is on the phone when it rings. Not every call but enough. 99. to the 22 power of what we see as solid mass is empty space. So maybe it's not so empty.

July 06, 2012 6:35 PM  
Blogger ish said...

Oh how I do love your writing Lynette. It grabs me with such an emotional rush. Always worth the wait.

You know I am a very rational person, committed in my political beliefs to an absolutely materialist point of view (Materialist not as in greedy but as in things happening because of material conditions and socially determined interests), and yet I spent a dozen years immersed in a world where invisible spirits talked and luminescent beings descended from forces of nature into the bodies of part-time prophets to offer advice and healing. All I can say is, it is an unknowable mystery of a universe greater than our understanding that
such revelations can occur in apparent contradiction with our otherwise sane and orderly experience. Perspective matters and sometimes you just have to shift it a little bit.

Sometimes you close the windows against the rain and sometimes you need to open them and let the wind blow, blow inside.

July 06, 2012 8:18 PM  
Blogger Croft said...

Great story, thanks for sharing. I have a background in science and mathematics but believe these things are entirely possible. My mother had some medical problems that she had treated by a "Psychic Surgeon" in the Philippians in the late 60's. The treatments were successful.

July 08, 2012 1:37 PM  
Blogger LzyMom said...

I am almost dying to find out what happened. I do sometimes think about your stories and I periodically wonder what drove her to leave.

So when you're ready, no rush or anything, I'd love to hear what you have to share. :)


July 09, 2012 3:22 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

Thanks to all of you who've read this post. That really means a lot to me, especially since I've been so lax about posting anything. I think it's time to write again. I wish all my old blogging pals would pick up again, though a few never stopped. It also means a lot to me that so many of you have similar experiences. It's not something to discuss in polite company, but when the subject does come up, it's surprising how many people have had inexplicable experiences with something else beyond the physical. I love the stories you've shared ^^ truly wonderful. lynette

July 10, 2012 7:54 PM  
Anonymous ewe said...

okey dokey. Artichokey.

July 25, 2012 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Tater said...

I am so very happy for you! I can hardly wait to hear the rest of the story you are shy to share. Having read my own story a few years back, you know I am not skeptical of yours. Most of us close ourselves off from all that is other, those that do not can be a blessing. I'm happy your sister found such a person to shed light on the trauma your family endured. I have been itching to write again as well. Perhaps I shall.

August 03, 2012 9:26 PM  
Anonymous VipEscort said...

blog name is funny. by the way. i am happy for you :)

August 04, 2012 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Jim B said...

I love reading your blog - ever time. What an uplifting story. I don't really need to hear/read more. The universe always provides if we are listening. And this story came at the right time for me. Why did I wonder, as I read joe.my.gods blog, about that great writer Lynette? And then went to your blog and discovered this? because I was ready to receive it. Be well - always.


September 06, 2012 11:11 PM  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

thanks so much for stopping by..I tell everyone when they come to West to turn their watches back 50 years...it's like Mayberry, but with beer.

April 18, 2013 12:39 PM  

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