Or The Land of the Purple Glove
I’m losing three people from my homefront. Two neighbors, including Shirley, whom I’ve known since I was nine and with whom I’m quite close, are moving to senior housing. Additionally, my building’s warm and wonderful superintendent of fifteen years is leaving. The impending changes were revealed to me within days of each other, and are occurring back to back. While no one has died, their departures feel like a death. It’s the end of an era, and I feel left behind.
Within four months Vanity, 57, Bowie, 69 and Prince, 57, died. Shocking and sad for many of us (though probably not my senior neighbors and Irish superintendent).
I grew up with Bowie, Vanity and Prince, the latter two boosting my burgeoning sense of sexuality. The announcement of their three deaths, along with my three friends’ imminent departures threw me for a loop. Why do things like this come in threes? Why does change sometimes happen all at once? Beats me.
After I cried, I decided that their change was my change, too. If new things were coming to them, then new things were coming to me, too. Every death is a rebirth. Whether we perceive it, life is constantly transforming. Nothing is static. The weather shifts. Our cells die, new cells are born. We crave stability and security and put locks on our homes and even decorate our pocketbooks with them. But you can’t lock out change. It is the very nature of life. So why are we resistant to it?
In short order I was able to turn things around for myself. Mind you, in the distant past, when my mother got sick with cancer and died from it, I was not able to turn it around. I was depressed for years, and experienced significant grief before and after her death to boot. But I have persevered, forged ahead, and become resilient.
Since I want change in my own life on many frontiers, I’m metaphorically packing my bags. Cleaning house. Cleaning up. Getting my affairs and papers in order. I’m preparing.
This is where my hard work over the years has paid off. When you’ve processed your emotions, your thoughts, your issues, you clean the slate to prepare for the new. You can’t do that if you haven’t worked through your stuff. You just bring your baggage with you. But I’ve worked long and hard to become happier, freer, and am primed to move toward new vistas. Change is here.
For one, I am increasingly psychic, and this is a great and good thing. I’ve learned to trust myself, and have turned inward for answers instead of following the modern fixation of seeking relief from a pill, expert, partner, activity, job, or a child to fill the voids. This has connected me to my own powerful core.
I have taken the recent “deaths” and turned them into my rebirth. For starters, I’m burning birthday candles. Shirley gave me her stash of yahrtzeit candles, tea lights, and other assorted candles she kept around in case of a blackout, including birthday cake candles in a decomposing box marked “10 Cents” (what century were those from?)
It’s still cold in New York, even though it’s May, and I need their warmth. Candles instill a great sense of peace in me. I’m burning all of them, including the memorial yahrzeit candles for the dead. Birthday and memorial lights burn simultaneously.
I have a forest of candles around me now as I write. I light the tiny birthday candles one after another like I’m chain smoking. There’s no cake. They’re in a metal dish. I light the new wick from the candle burning down then melt its bottom so it adheres to the dish. I’m burning them all to cut down on clutter. Besides, who wants 100 year old candles on an actual cake? The bonfire warms my soul.
I’ll give you examples of what blossoming psychic ability looks like. One morning I thought of an old friend I’ve been out of touch with. She wrote me that night to say her uncle died that morning.
I noticed I was missing an earring right before I was about to lead a private session with a client. I concentrated on where I could have lost it, came to a conclusion regarding where it probably was (in a park one block away) and made a mad dash in the ten minutes I had left to go find it. It was buried in dirt, but I found it, and made it back in time for my appointment. You could argue that I used logical discernment, but once I did, I “knew” where it was and lickety-split retrieved it. My intuitive vision is focused like a laser beam. I’m psychically “online”.
A few months ago I lost a purple chenille glove in Central Park when I was with my dog. Aside from the “lost” earring (which was pulled from my ear by a roughhousing puppy, unnoticed by me at the time) I’m not a person who loses things. But somewhere along our three-hour walk spanning several miles, I dropped a glove. Disappointed, I backtracked a bit. In the past, I might have backtracked all the way home. But I have a looser grip on life now, and after ten minutes, I let it go. I put the remaining glove in a bag for charity. There’s another Michael Jackson out there somewhere who’s gonna love it.
The next day Milo (my pooch) and I went to the park again. Since we generally follow the same route, I lightheartedly set the intention to find my missing glove, despite the fact that the park is 843 acres. Why not? Setting intentions is a way of playing with the Universe, and discovering your own co-creative abilities. When we got to the park I joked to Milo “Go fetch my glove!” He didn’t.
I did. I found it in the middle of a green field, an ultraviolet chenille flower lying perfectly preserved from the day before. This is a field that is perpetually filled with people, picnics, and dogs. Heck, a squirrel could have grabbed it to pad his nest in the past 24 hours. But there was no one around on this beautiful day. The glove was waiting for me, untouched. I glowed. The find was symbolic and inspired a new mantra: I am a person who finds things.
In fact, I was never someone who lost things. Until lately, when I’ve been losing things left right and center (I still haven’t found my umbrella). The reason I’ve been losing is to show myself just how well I retrieve. I’m a psychic detective.
The stakes were raised when I lost my iPhone. I was in an all day class in the Wall Street area on a Saturday, took a walk during lunch, put it in my bag, and when I got back to class…gone.
I ripped my bag apart to no avail. The ramifications of the loss hit me hard. Was I still under contract with Verizon? (Yes. They own me for another year). I would have to buy another phone at full price (the cost of a car). I couldn’t contemplate that so my mind started looking for solutions. Was it stolen? Did I drop it? Could I find it? I’m so damn good at finding things; I’ll just go find my phone! Wall Street is pretty quiet on the weekend. The phone’s bright red cover would make it easy to spot and I could easily retrace the steps of my short walk. But there were two more hours of class left and I couldn’t concentrate for the life of me.
So I took action. I walked to the front desk and asked if anyone had turned in a red iPhone. No. Would he call the downstairs guard and ask him? I waited while he called. No go. I asked to use his phone to call Apple Care. Apple was useless. “For security reasons” they wouldn’t help me, the owner. If banks can establish security questions to determine I am who I am, so can Apple, for Christ’s sake. It’s my car. I’ve paid Apple very good money over the years, and when push comes to shove, they told me to find someone with an iPhone to find my iPhone. Thanks for nothing.
Who had an iPhone? I recalled that a girl in my class brought her MacBook Air that day. Bingo. I approached her quietly and asked if I could use it. She offered me her iPhone instead. It located my iPhone all right, which was now on the move. My stomach dropped. Someone had found it. I could watch it walking along Broome Street in Soho. Was it having a good time?
My thoughts started swirling again. What if the people who’d found it were returning it to the Apple store on Prince Street? If they’d stolen it (how I don’t know) would they be shopping in Soho (a pricey neighborhood)? All bets were off. I commanded my phone’s automated message to display “This phone has been lost. Please call…” I entered my home phone number. Having done everything I could logically do, I settled down and was able to pay attention for the rest of class.
When class ended I ran to call my home phone to retrieve the message about my lost phone. I couldn’t remember my damn password. When I listened later from home I heard my own recording, “I can’t remember my password!”
One of the gals in my class told me that the cops could help me. When she’d taught school, a student’s phone was stolen, and the cops were able to track it to the home it was taken to. This would never have occurred to me.
My adrenaline was pumping hard. I was on fire with the powerful intention to retrieve my phone. My plan of action was to go to the Apple store on Prince Street to see if someone turned it in. If it wasn’t there, I would make a beeline to my local precinct uptown and enlist their help.
When class ended I bolted out like a bat out of hell. I saw a cop. Great! “Where’s the local precinct?” He had no idea. He wasn’t NYPD. He was with The Fed (the Federal Reserve, which is not a governmental agency. Just so you know, the joint that controls the US. money supply is a private agency. Hmmm….) “Okay. Where’s the subway?” He was of no use there, either. I kept running, trusting my radar to find a station. I found a huge station with a zillion trains and never stopped, my eyes and brain kept recalculating my trajectory and destination. I jumped on an express, my heart racing. It didn’t go to Prince Street, so I had to jump off at Brooklyn Bridge and hop on a local. But before I did, I saw something very intriguing in my car. A young Japanese lady dressed all in pink with bunny rabbit shoes (you know what I’m talking about? These kids dress like stuffed animals…) Anyway, she was like a little doll herself, perfect and pretty and…holding a red iPhone. I took it all in and understood what I was seeing. A sign. Two, actually. Follow the White (or pink) Rabbit. Follow the red iPhone. I smiled. I was on the right track.
I hopped off on Spring Street, trying to remember if the store was on Spring or Prince, but really, just followed my body. It knew where to go, even if my mind was a bit confused. Unlike empty Wall Street, there were hordes of people in Soho on a Saturday, and I wove through them like a guided missile. I dashed into the store. “Where’s your lost and found? Did anyone turn in a red iPhone? ” I blurted. “We’ll have to call downstairs.” I was still pumped with adrenaline. He called downstairs. Shook his head. Nothing. Another guy bent down under the counter and reappeared holding my phone. I screamed “My phone!” I danced, twirled, and hugged several employees, one of whom did not appreciate the gesture. But Justin, who was wearing a plaid skirt, welcomed my enthusiasm. He was the one holding my phone. They needed to make sure I knew the security code. I passed the test. Mind you, did they notice the message on my phone saying, “This phone is lost, please call...”? If I hadn't picked up my phone in person, I somehow doubt they ever would have bothered.
Bottom line, I had the phone back in my hot little hands 30 minutes after I raced from Wall Street, two and a half hours after I lost it. My body knew where to go and what to do. It has its own wisdom. I was an iPhone-seeking missile. Was there logic involved in retrieving my phone? Yes. But there was more than logic.
In the month that I knew Shirley was leaving I checked on her daily and helped frequently. Shirley snapped at me several times, once so harshly that I burst into tears after she hung up on me. In the past I might have shut her out, refusing to assist further if she’s going to bite the hand that feeds her. I thought about telling her how I felt, however she’s pushing 90, so were we really going to have a meaningful conversation, especially when she’s so stressed and overwhelmed? I was able to let it go, and it was obvious from her fawning behavior shortly after the fact that she knew she’d done me wrong. I accepted her wordless apology, and was happy to continue helping her. These were my last days with her, after all, and we did have a close kinship.
I came to realize something. When my mother died, Shirley stepped to the fore and in ancillary fashion served as pseudo surrogate. She provided the adult relationship I never had with my mom, since I was still in college when Mom died. I had helped my mother in many ways, and was able to help Shirley (I was her handy-man and computer expert among other things). Shirley also helped me, taking me out on my birthday and holding my mail when I went away. So her departure signaled a rite of passage, even though I’m a “big girl”.
Despite her assiduously prepping for her move with daily lists and chores, when I checked on her the afternoon before the move she was grossly unprepared. So, I stepped up. “What needs doing?” I did it. She was exhausted, slumped over, and couldn’t even look me in the face. The lunch out she had promised me days before never happened, nor did the dinner out she had offered. I told her it didn’t matter, now was the time to pack and prepare. Our last night she couldn’t even order food in. She was nauseous, and I wasn’t interested in a Last Supper. I was seeing her off to Summer Camp with the Seniors.
I was up til 1am that night, packing, lifting and organizing her personal effects after two consecutive days of strenuous gym workouts. I was a zombie. But despite her constant insomnia, she was afraid of sleeping in on this most important of days. She had packed all her alarm clocks. I was up at 6 and called her, and was back helping her by 7.
When the mover arrived at 9 the guy beamed from ear to ear and said to Shirley. “You did all my work! I was supposed to pack for you! This’ll be easy, thanks!” I stared at him, dumbfounded. “I did all your work.” He got paid for my backbreaking labor. Shirley had left a few plates in the kitchen and a few garments hanging in the closet for them to pack, but had entirely misunderstood the agreement (and what she had paid for). They were to pack everything, including her dishes and garments. With the movers there, I was again “in her hair” and she made it clear my presence was not wanted. I went home and cried, not from being dismissed, I was used to that from her by now, but from sheer exhaustion and from finding out that what I had spent the last 18 hours breaking my back doing was utterly unnecessary.
This put me in mind of an incident years ago, when my sister and I visited our grandmother in her nursing home. She was pretty frail, and so tiny the nurse called her Peanut. My grandmother was German, and so was her roommate, a tall, willowy woman who called me Schatze and begged of me while gripping my hand, “Bitte. Kaffee?” She wanted a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. I got it for her. The nurse yelled at her when she caught her with the contraband. For some stupid ass reason, this simplest of pleasures (in a Styrofoam cup, no less) was denied a very old woman. Ridiculous.
My grandmother’s dentures were out on the bathroom shelf. They were disgusting, covered with all sorts of muck. I bit the bullet, grabbed them, and scrubbed them with toothbrush and toothpaste until they were… less disgusting. Very proud of my bravery, I emerged from the bathroom and told my sister what I had just done. She replied, “What are you talking about? Nana’s dentures are in her mouth.” I had just cleaned her roommate’s teeth.
The feeling of shock and dismay was about the same with the movers.
Shirley left two notes written on paper towels. One was to the movers, “DO NOT REMOVE ROBE, HAMPER OR SHOWER CURTAIN” (these were going to the Salvation Army, via me) and the other was to me, “VALERIE, WORDS CANNOT CONVEY MY ETERNAL GRATITUDE. I WILL CALL TONITE. SO M…“
Like Joseph of Arimathea’s unfinished Aramaic message carved on the cave wall in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, “Here may be found the last words of Joseph of Arimathea, ‘He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the castle of Aaaargh….!’” I discerned the intended meaning of Shirley’s last few letters. “So much love.”
I don’t regret packing Shirley’s things. It was an intense night, and it represented our final hours together, with me helping her. I saved her life that night. She was in a “state”, believing that she was unprepared, and I prepared her.
While looking for years, she didn’t tell me of her plan to move until just a month prior. She shared her reason for moving to a home for independent living thusly. The building that we've lived in since the 1970s has changed vastly over the years. There are lots of young couples with babies, nannies and maids galore. Then there are the old timers, some of whom are in wheelchairs and walkers (I’m somewhere in between the two demographics.) Shirley referenced someone who’d died in the building and said, “I don’t want to leave the lobby on a stretcher”.
My final gift to Shirley came in the form of words. I found her still in the lobby (after the movers packed her teacup and blouse) waiting to be picked up by a relative and driven to her new home. I was just back from yet another workout I couldn’t believe I had the strength for, but adrenaline was still pumping through me and I needed the release after all the stress. Shirley was drained of all energy, and she sat slumped on a chair by the front door.
She was sinking into a quicksand comprised of exhaustion, stress and insomnia. Hunched over like a 9000-year-old mummy, she could not even look at me; she looked only at the ground. The night before I had repeatedly commanded her to stand up straight and look at me since she was withdrawing into herself like a traumatized person. I imitated her atrocious demeanor, hunched over, eyes down. Despite how spent she was I reminded her that I was doing all the work, and when she snapped at me yet once more, I finally stood up to her. “Are you complaining?” That shut her right up.
I looked at her seated in the lobby. “You remember what you said to me? You don’t want to leave this lobby on a stretcher? Well, you’re not. Stand up straight, chin up. You’re walking out of this building.”
Shirley bequeathed me a bag of frozen peas and a can of string beans. I also inherited her string, ribbon, and plastic and paper bag collections. She took her plastic bag ties (already twisted and used) with her. My foyer is filled with 20 bags of her unwanted stuff awaiting the Salvation Army’s pickup in a month.
Shirley is now up north eating endless lox with the “walker brigade”. It’ll probably take her a year to unpack. Despite her virtual “death”, she called from her new haven, and we had a lovely chat. I’ve often felt abandoned when people moved, and wrote off the relationships. Hearing from Shirley was like hearing from a ghost. I enjoyed the ghostly conversation thoroughly.
I’ve had another realization about my relationship with Shirley since she “departed”. After years of looking after my mother, and looking in on Shirley, I'm not on call anymore. I’ve no one to care for now but myself. And that’s a good thing. I’m free.
I’m softening, and this too, is a part of my mystic and spiritual opening. The Land of the Purple Glove, The Orange Earring, and The Red iPhone is an expansive place. My heart continues to open and wonder abounds. I am a person who finds things.
© Valerie Gilbert 2016 All Rights Reserved
Valerie is the author of RAVING VIOLET, MEMORIES, DREAMS & DEFLECTIONS: My Odyssey Through Emotional Indigestion, and SWAMI SOUP. The books are available in print, e-book, and audio book, narrated by the author.
Valerie leads Psychic Development/Guided Meditation/Healing/Past Life Regression Workshops at Namaste Healing Center, and privately, in New York City.
For more information on Valerie's full lineup: http://valeriegilbert.weebly.com