As I’ve mentioned before, one of the major reasons why I’ve had an ongoing interest in the unexplained since childhood was because of my mother. My mom was a person of great humor, and it was rare that she was not smiling, laughing and joking about something. For a petite little lady who barely weighed over 100 pounds (I get my stature and large frame from my dad’s side), she made a big impression on everyone she met and people naturally gravitated toward her.
My mom was a woman of many talents. She was was a nurse, having graduated near the top of her class from Long Island University in Brooklyn in 1947. She spent most of her career in pediatrics because she loved infants and children, and she frequently bandaged cut knees and scrapes for most of the neighborhood kids. Her cooking talents were legendary, and she was often the first one that people turned to with their troubles, always having a willing ear and a kind word of encouragement to help ease the sorrows of others. She and my father, Harold, were married in July of 1949, just short of sixty years until her passing in February 2009.
Although hardly a sanctimonious or pious person, my mom was a deeply religious woman, having been raised in an devoutly Catholic Italian family. Having such a background, she did believe in the fact that God spoke to her at times through her dreams, and she often laughingly referred to herself as “a witch”, primarily because of her incredible sense of intuition and her frequent precognitive (or as she called them, “witchy”) dreams.
Her gifts were not always welcomed, and my mother would honestly worry for someone if she’d had one of her “witchy dreams” about them. This was not unwarranted, because her accuracy was uncanny. The most vivid and upsetting example of her precognitive powers happened during the summer of 1975, shortly before my eleventh birthday. My mom was having persistent and very upsetting dreams involving her mother, who’d been deceased for about two years at that time, and her two brothers-in-law, my uncles.
My mother was the sixth of seven children, first generation American-born to Sicilian parents. She, like my father, was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and many of our relatives lived there. Her younger sister and her eldest lived next door to each other in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, my elder aunt being married to a physician, aged sixty-five. Her younger sister was forty-five years of age and her husband was forty-six. In the early morning hours of July 4th, 1975, the elder sister, Jane, called next door to her younger sister and brother-in-law to say that her husband was having a heart attack. Naturally, my aunt and uncle went next door and as my younger uncle was calling an ambulance, he too suffered massive cardiac arrest. Both my older uncle and younger uncle died within minutes of each other in the same house.
A horrible and bizarre tragedy indeed, the effects from which our family has never fully recovered. The strangest part, however, was the fact that my mother had been experiencing a feeling of foreboding and increasingly dark, disturbing dreams involving my uncles in the weeks and days leading up to their deaths. She spoke of having vivid nightmares of her two brothers-in-law struggling and drowning in black, churning water as her mother stood at the shore. In the dream, my mother would run up to the edge of the water, wanting to help her sisters’ husbands, but was told by her mother that it was “too late to save them”. She would then watch helplessly as the black waters eventually engulfed them.
On the morning of July 4th, 1975 at approximately 4 AM, my mother awoke in a cold sweat with her heart pounding. She later learned that it was at approximately this time that her younger sister’s husband passed away. After their deaths my mother had a more pleasant dream of my uncles and grandmother seemingly at peace and smiling at her.
These were the most memorable and upsetting of my mother’s many precognitive dreams, but she experienced them frequently throughout her life. Sometimes they were fairly innocuous, involving mundane events, but as friends and neighbors came to know of her abilities they often consulted with her about her dreams or feelings concerning various matters. And her instincts were usually correct.
On another occasion, about ten years ago and a few years after Jane, the eldest of her five older siblings, had passed away, my mother was in her bedroom folding and putting away some clothes in her dresser. Suddenly, my aunt Jane appeared, sitting on the edge of her bed. In a stern and commanding voice, unlike my sweet Auntie Jane, she told my mother to call their brother, saying “Buddy’s in trouble and he needs you!” At that, aunt Jane vanished. Within a minute or so, before my mother was able to compose herself and call her brother as she was told, the phone rang. My mother answered and it was in fact, my uncle. “How are you?” my mother asked. “Not too good” replied my uncle. As it turned out, his daughter had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. My uncle’s wife had passed away several years earlier, also from breast cancer, so this was naturally even that much more upsetting to him.
The good news is, my cousin’s tumor was removed and over ten years later she has been cancer-free. The strangeness of these incidents, though, has had a lasting effect on my view of reality. Why are some people, like my mother, more “in-tune” to the unseen and appear to have the ability to tap into events that have not yet occurred? And what is the true nature of precognitive dreams and clairvoyance? The answer may lie in the field of quantum physics. In Lynn McTaggart’s excellent book The Field, she coins the phrase “The Endless Hear and Now” — the fact that human consciousness is inexorably linked to the basic fabric of reality, the zero point field, a timeless and all-encompassing field of consciousness. This concept, once relegated as New Age nonsense by “serious” scientists, is now being advanced by some of the most brilliant minds working at the cutting edge of quantum physics. At this level, they tell us, we are all linked, and past and present becomes meaningless. So then, is it possible that some individuals have an innate ability to access this field?
Admittedly, these are difficult concepts to get one’s head around, and as Richard Feynman once famously remarked, anyone who claims to understand quantum physics is “a liar or a fool”. Readers of this website will find that the intersection of new science, quantum physics, and the paranormal/mystical is a central concept to many of my articles. I am, of course, not a scientist or researcher. I’m just a person who finds all of this fascinating and who is an avid reader of all materials concerning these subjects, and I look forward to encouraging a discussion with readers of this blog about such matters. My feeling is that there’s far too much empirical evidence to simply dismiss all such experiences as my mother had, and if it cannot be dismissed, then we must address their true nature and origin.
In conclusion, I must say that I miss my mother more than words can even begin to express. I don’t know of a more wonderful person that ever I’ve met, and I don’t say that simply because she was my mom and was dear to me. She was truly remarkable, and wise beyond reasoning. I love my mother and take pride in knowing that all which is good and decent about myself comes from her and my father.
UPDATE, 12/2015: It has been over six years since I wrote this article and as I look back at it I find that my views have changed a great deal. While I don’t dismiss the emerging field of quantum mechanics and importance that it may play in understanding what we’ve come to term “the paranormal”, I now believe that it is all part of God’s glory. Although my mother was often uncomfortable with her gift I do firmly belief that it was a gift of the Holy Spirit. I have a had a change of heart in mind concerning my faith and I now see the narrowness of my earlier views. I feel that I have only now begun to scratch the surface of what my mother understood so well: God’s glory and his love for us are boundless.