I grew up with a father who was a doctor, a man of science, and a mother who possessed a vibrant spiritual life anchored in a strong connection to the psychic world. This made for a lively household, underscored in no small measure by mother’s exuberant and curious spirit.
My mother worked at redirecting energies. She meditated at dawn, analyzed dreams and communed with the dead. She knew and consulted a wide range of psychics, looked them up all over the world, did healing work, read auras, went to lectures and workshops, had book discussion groups, invited spoon benders to dinner, championed certain physicists, was at the forefront of the hospice movement, and trusted her instincts.
As her daughter, I grew up with certain benefits, including frequent physic readings. These were by letter, by phone, and if possible in person, like the one I did in Toronto, which I’m I’m still thinking about decades later. I was in my early teens, no idea which end was up, and sat face-to-face with a small, serious man who said only two things, but both came true.
First, regrettably, I would have two abscess teeth to consider coming in quick succession, and before the year was out, and he was correct.
Next, I needed to make much better use of a dictionary. Now, that one shocked me. The exact meaning of a word, he said, was not something to take lightly. All sorts of words should be looked up and understood with great specificity, he insisted, especially the ones you think you know.
He was right about this too. Not long after the encounter, I was polishing off a speech about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and, dictionary in hand, discovered that I had misconstrued the meaning of the word “gentian.” Perhaps I thought it stood for gent or gentleman, is all I can imagine, but I was wrong and can still recall how close I came to standing before my class, my courage mustered and my voice strong, and calling the 32nd president of the United States a little blue flower . . .