I hope to meet my soulmate after my divorce from Jack but I don’t actively seek him. I don’t in large part because I don’t think there is anyone for me. I am the pot without a lid.
When I am nineteen, a fortune teller tells me that I am meant to be alone. A group of us go to see Madame M. on Wellington Road in London, Ontario to celebrate the nineteenth birthday of one of the group. I counsel the others to not let themselves become upset by anything the woman may or may not say. The spiritualist tells each of my friends that she sees men and children in their future. She doesn’t see the same for me.
“Men are not important to you,” Madame M tells me. “You will have a very successful career. You will cross the ocean many times to establish that career, but men are not important to you.”
I am devastated after her reading. I dream of marrying someday, but according to her it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. I am the one who needs to be consoled after our readings. I realize why it is dangerous to visit psychics and mediums. Their words can become a self-fulfilling prophesy, which it does in my case.
After my divorce at age twenty-nine, exactly ten years since my first flirtation with the mystical, my bartending partner and friend, Margot, tells me about a psychic who is also a reverend located in Paris, Ontario, and together she and I go to see her. The address Margot has been given when we make the appointment is that of a church rectory. I know that I am not supposed to consult mediums as part of my religion but I tell myself it is okay since she is a reverend and does her readings in a church rectory. The psychic reverend appears before us in a bright orange kaftan with a huge blue floral pattern covering it. She is a bulky woman with short, brightly coloured hair that looks more burgundy than red. I go in first and she asks to hold one of my gold hoop earrings. I slide it from my lobe and hand it to her. She presses the small, gold circumference between her hefty palms.
“I know you don’t want to hear this right now, but you will marry again. Next time he will be your equal. This last one was kind and loving but he wasn’t your equal. He wasn’t strong enough for you. Do the names Greg or Derek mean anything to you?”
“They will. Keep them in mind,” she says. (As an aside, some years later, I do date a man named Greg with a brother named Derek. Nothing comes of it.) “I see a man on a cloud in a cap smoking a pipe, sitting with a little dog. He is saying that it is good that you left him because your life would have been a roller coaster with him. Like this,” she gestured by raising her hand up and lowering it down again the way my mother had the Christmas Eve before my wedding when she told me my life with Jack would not resemble the motions of a roller coaster. “Do you understand?” she asks me.
“Yes,” I start to cry.
“This gentleman has some sort of accent. He is telling you to swim. He is saying, ‘Swim, lassie. Swim.’ Does this make sense to you?”
“Yes,” I smile through my tears. “My Grandfather Craeron said that to me once. He wore a cap and smoked a pipe. He had a Scottish accent.” I had been afraid of what my mother’s father, whom I had met only three times in my life, would think of me because I left my Catholic marriage. He was a devout Catholic who attended daily Mass. I feel relief at the psychic cleric’s words.
“There is a young man coming through. He says, ‘It wasn’t your fault.’ What he did. You couldn’t save him. He says you must stop trying to make everyone else happy and make yourself happy.” I wonder if it is a former student who had committed suicide. He hung himself with a computer chord in his basement because he owed some bad men a thousand dollars. “He says be happy because you deserve it. You have made so many other people happy. Make yourself happy now. There is a woman coming through now. She says you must find your fighting Irish spirit. You get that from her. ‘You must regain it,’ she says.” I presume this is my father’s mother coming through. Grandmother Sara MacKay died before I was born. She had long, red hair that she could sit on and she used to bring all of the stray cats all over Glasgow into their Pollock home. Though she was Scottish, my father said she always claimed to be Irish. She married a big Irishman from Donegal, my grandfather, Ever Griffin, who her brothers nicknamed Big Honest Ed because he’d have nothing to do with their wheeling and dealing around Glasgow. On her deathbed, having just recently met my mother, she told my dad not to rush into anything with that new lass.
When I see my mother and grandmother after that visit with the psychic I tell them that Granddad Craeron had come through.
“Did he have a message for me?” my Grandmother Craeron asks.
“Yes,” I look hard at my grandmother. “He said, ‘Stay where you are.’” My mother, grandmother and I laugh hysterically.
My mother had gone with her friends to see a physic when she was young. The old woman said that she saw a coffin flying above the table. Her five friends were in a panic before the woman told my mother the coffin was for her. “There will be a death in your family,” she told my mother. “I also see the initials J.G. and a fiddle. Those are unrelated to the death. Those have to do with your future. I see four children in your future. Two boys and two girls.”
My mother was dating a man named John Griffin at the time. He was no relation to my father. That man dropped my mother after he was laid-off from his work. He said that he couldn’t continue to date her because he had no money to take her out. She offered to go Dutch on their dates but he refused. Shortly thereafter a distant cousin of my mother died in a car accident in Canada. He had just graduated from high school and his parents bought him a car as a graduation present. The boy was killed on the highway while driving. Shortly after John Griffin ended his relationship with my mother, she met my father, Joseph Griffin. He worked beside my mother’s dad in Singer Sewing Machine Factory in Clydebank where my mother also worked but on a different line. My dad had just returned from Cyprus, where he served two years of national service in the British army. He came back to Scotland tanned, fit and gorgeous. Women in Singer’s flocked around my grandfather’s workbench to get a look at my father. My mother maintains that she was there to see her father and had no interest in mine.
“I didnee think he was gade-lookin’,” she said often. “Och. He had beautiful, big, blue eyes, but I just felt sorry for the lad, so I dud.”
They started dating and on those rare occasions when the sun shone in Scotland, they skived off work for the day and went to Saltcoats seashore. My grandfather, who knew what was going on when both of them were absent from their work on a sunny day, said, “Och! They’re away chasing the butterflies.” After they were dating for a few months they were up the town looking for a violin for my mother’s younger brother.
“Och. Don’t buy wan,” my dad said. “I have wan up at the hoose I had when I was wee. Yer brother can have it.”
The initials J.G. and a fiddle.
In the end, Maìread Craeron decided that Joseph Griffin was the one for her. (Poor sod). My mother was six weeks older than my father. Her birthday is in November and his follows hard upon in December. She insisted that they be married in October so that she would not appear older than he on their marriage certificate. Thus, Joseph Aloysius Griffin and Maìread Mary Craeron were married on October 28th, 1961 – the feast day of St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes.
It is dangerous to consult mediums, I decide in 1994. In a way, it interferes with one’s freedom of choice. It plants information in a person’s brain and those ideas affect the thinking and choices of the individual. It was certainly true in my case. If I had known to just trust in the living God’s plan for my life, I would have not actively sought direction from the dead.