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I’m coming out! No more hiding for me! No more secrets! No more lies! No more pretending I don’t know who folks are talking about around the water cooler when John Edward‘s name comes up.

I admit it. I am a huge fan.

How huge? Well, let’s just say that I’ve probably seen every single episode of “,” his show that aired on SciFi for several years, and I know I have seen every episode thus far of “ with ,” his current show on WE. I’m very excited about the fact that they are finally going to start airing new episodes on August 25.

Need to know more? Ok, I confess that I actually read one of his books a few years ago.

And yes, I have seen him in person. Twice — once in San Francisco about four years ago and again this past July in Sacramento.

I’m going to see him again when he is in San Francisco next month. In Sacramento, as will be his upcoming San Francisco appearance, it was a “gallery-type” group. Translation: Small audience, better odds of getting a reading, more expensive tickets.

I tried many, many times to get on his waiting list for a private reading, but could never get anything but a busy signal at the appointed call-in hour. I will travel to Long Island for the reading. But now the list of folks waiting is so long, he isn’t even taking any more names until he works his way through at least part of the list. The wait is probably about five years, at this rate.

No, I did not get a reading either of the times I saw him. The first time I think I came close. I was with my husband and we were sitting in the front row of the balcony. John came and stood directly in front of me. There were people seated immediately beneath us, of course, because the balcony extended out over the first row. He paused, looked my direction, and said, “Who’s Kenny?” (My father.) Before I could put my hand up, his attention was pulled to someone seated below us. Interestingly, during the reading that ensued there was no mention of a “Kenny,” “Ken” or a name remotely close to that. I’ll always wonder if my father was trying to get his attention, but another spirit was louder and distracted him. It would not be like Kenny to interrupt or be aggressive in an effort to send me a message.

To the Sacramento appearance, I took a good friend and co-worker. She is a very smart woman with mega-common sense. She is pragmatic, analytical, and does not suffer fools. In short, she was the perfect person to take to such an event because if she thought John was a phony or flim-flam artist, she would be the first to stand up and say so. She also experienced the greatest loss any person can experience and is surviving it on a daily basis. So I have enormous respect for her strength, courage, and insight.

She came out a believer.

And if the people in the audiences during those two appearances were planted, prepared in advance to act out a script, they deserve Oscars. Because they all seemed genuinely surprised and not always pleased to be receiving a message from a departed loved one, in addition to deeply moved by the experience. There were many, many tears.

I have read the reports of skeptics who claim that John uses “cold reading” techniques to coax answers out of willing victims. I saw no evidence of that. On the contrary, he is very blunt about telling people to shut up when he is doing a reading. He does not want them to guess or attempt to assist by providing details. He also explained that his wife does not like to travel with him because she says that he is “mean.” When one woman was not following his lead and he became very frustrated with her uniformly delayed — as in 3 to 4 sentences later — validations of the details he was providing, I saw what his wife means. He was very emphatic about the messages he was receiving and got extremely impatient with the woman. Eventually, though, she validated everything he told her.

In another instance, he kept insisting that there was a dog with the person who was sending a message. He referred repeatedly to “Princess.” As the reading progressed, however, it became clear that was he was trying to impart that the person coming through had died as a result of an original misdiagnosis of her condition — by the time she was correctly diagnosed, it was too late for doctors to help her. Finally, he realized why he was getting the sense that a dog named Princess was also there: His mother died in the exactly the same way. She was misdiagnosed and by the time the doctors discovered she had lung cancer, treatment was futile. His mother’s nickname? Princess. Skeptics would insist this was an example of a reading gone awry, but he explained at the outset that he sees images of people and things that have meaning and context in his own life. Here was an example of him seeing the image, but initially mistaking its meaning.

Do I really believe that it is possible to receive messages from those who have died and crossed over to eternity? Yes, I do. I have had some experiences that have convinced me that our loved ones leave this realm, but remain in our presence. Without going into details about my experiences, let me just remind you that I live in the house in which I grew up. My parents built this house in 1959 and it was the only home either of them knew from that date forward. Not only did they “build” this home in the sense that they hired a contractor to do the work, they designed it and did much of the finishing work themselves. The wallpaper my mother hung remains on many of the walls, as does the varnish she painstakingly applied to every mopboard, door, doorjamb, and the kitchen cabinets. My father’s handiwork is evident everywhere, especially the garage, where his toolbox sits in the precise spot where he left it. I write this from the same living room in which I spent most of the evenings of my youth. In fact, my father’s 25″ RCA XL100 t.v. i on right now. It is more than 30 years old, but doesn’t have a scratch on the cabinet and has a very clear picture, so I keep it. I figure that when it dies, we’ll haul it off to the dump. In the meantime, there it is in the corner opposite me, right next to my mother’s very comfortable, but very dated couch, on which the kids love to get cozy with the dogs and watch Comedy Central. Do I think that my parents still reside in this house? I know that their spirits, the essence of who they were and what they valued, remains — even without taking the funky retro furnishings into account!

After I see John again next month, I’ll provide you with details. I look forward to an opportunity to again watch him work. Will I be disappointed if I don’t get a reading? Yes. I admit it. I would like to receive a message, not because I have unresolved issues or conflicts. I would really just like to get a “shout-out.” But John always says that those who receive messages are those who need to receive them, so we’ll see.

In the meantime, check him out on WE. You might end up being a believer, too.

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