I have 2 grand-daughters who don’t share a drop of DNA with me. Their grandpa, my husband, connected us but he died in 1998. Their dad Doug, my favorite step-son, died in 2003. Their uncle Jack, my son, died in 2009. We’ve lost direct connections except the heart to heart one. Neither one introduces me as their “step” grandma and I forgot a long time ago that they are anything but my grand-daughters.
Last summer, I was driving my 17 year old grand-daughter Savanna to her college class at Del Mar. It was during the time when Bob moved into my little home with me, the house I had shared with my son Jack. I kept experiencing lights flickering, pictures inexplicably falling, books dropping off shelves. I wondered if Jack was letting me know that he was there and expressing a ghostly opinion about Bob moving into the house.
GE and Jack in New Orleans at the St. Louis Cemetery. It’s our favorite and only ghost picture.
I told Savanna about it. “Do you think so!?” asked Savanna. (“No. Not really. It’s nice to think that Jack’s around, though. I like thinking that he’s cloud surfing when the winds are strong. Or strumming a guitar on one of the big fluffy summer clouds as they drift. He’s most likely not hanging out in the house.”)
It was at that point Theresa Caputo came into the conversation. “I love that Long Island Medium show!” Savanna exclaimed. (“Me, too. It’s hard to watch without crying. Georgie doesn’t like watching it for that reason. Too much emotion!”) Savanna mentioned that Theresa Caputo does live shows all over the country and I promised that if she got within 300 miles of Corpus Christi, I would get us tickets.
It was August, maybe 3 weeks later, when I got an email that advertised early purchase of tickets to the Theresa Caputo LIVE!!!! show. ( I texted Savanna: Guess who is coming to Corpus Christi? The Long Island medium! Want to go?) If my phone could have shouted Savanna’s YES!, it would have. We got tickets for all three of us: Savanna, her older sister Nina, and me.
The show wasn’t until November 7. After the initial flurry of excitement, we nearly forgot the date. A few days before the show, I Googled “live Caputo shows” to see what to expect. I’ve seen the TV show on TLC; Caputo wanders around with an assortment of family and friends in various situations doing routine things.
Caputo is a humorous, likable woman so her reactions and the reactions of people she encounters are entertaining. Within a few minutes of landing in a situation, she says something cryptic like, “Has anyone here lost a father? Maybe a stepfather?” There’s always a positive response. The message is perpetually sweet, accepting, positive, loving, and tear evoking. Not once have I heard the deceased convey through Caputo that they are disappointed with their bereaved family members.
I couldn’t imagine what a live show would be like; the reviews were mixed. Most of the folks who bothered to send in comments were positive. A few were disappointed that they hadn’t gotten readings. I would say 99% of the respondents are believers in Caputo’s ability to communicate with dead people.
If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels, and if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine it.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning (Jack and me, 1992)
I am not sure what the girls thought, but I can’t pretend that I didn’t have expectations about the show and the possibility that I’d get a message from my son. What mother having lost a child doesn’t yearn for confirmation that they are okay, for a chance to talk to them one more time? After Jack died, a friend gifted me with a reading from a local medium. I appreciated the woman’s gentle spirit and kind comments, but I didn’t walk away certain that I’d communed with Jack.
The show was crowded. We had good seats, not the closest, but close enough. Caputo came within touching distance to Savanna. No readings for us, but the ones that we heard were like those in her TV show. If they had sold Kleenex outside the auditorium, they’d have made a bundle. Lots of sniffles and some outright wrenching sobs. With about 2,500 people at the show, there were plenty of people shouting that they were the ones who had tattoos of their loved one or sons who had died in an accident or had just lost their mother. Cries of “that’s me!” were strident and loud. And disturbing.
The girls and I debriefed on the way to their house. We’d enjoyed time together, sharing a new memory. Were they disappointed that their dad or beloved surrogate grandma Dora Lee hadn’t spoken to them? Did they feel, like I did, sad that we didn’t hear from Jack? They seemed to feel happy that the show was heart warming fun. I was entertained but irrationally let down. I choked up when I tried to answer Bob’s queries about the show.
In the days that followed, I got a little more perspective. Is Theresa Caputo for real? It doesn’t matter. Maybe she brings comfort to some, entertainment to others. My heart broke for those who were brokenly sobbing, who intensely needed the reassurance that their beloved ones are safe and love them still.
I feel Jack’s presence in many places at many times. My favorite times are when I dream about him, dream that he’s come home late and tapping my shoulder to tell me he’s home or singing a newly minted song to me or telling me about the movie he just saw. Those dreams are beautiful and then painful when I wake. Is it Jack talking to me that makes those dreams? Some people say it is. Even though I love that thought, I am not sure.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~Kahlil Gibran (Jack, Nina, and Savanna in 2000 at SA Zoo)
Would he talk to me through Theresa Caputo or any medium? I have my doubts although I smile at the thought of him shouting “Pick me! Pick me! I want to talk to my nieces and mom. PICK ME, LADY! Comeoncomeoncomeon!!!!” while he jumps around, waving. What would be his spirit message? That he loves us? Would he tell Nina that he’s watching her and Nicholas? (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge) Would he tell Savanna that she better not forget him? (“You’d better be good or I’ll haunt you. I am your uncle!”) Is it possible that he’d approve of Bob? (“I guess it’s true, Mom, that women do like bad boys.”)