55: Meeting Jimmy

55: Meeting Jimmy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

Meeting Jimmy

Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.

~Lois Wyse

In 2007, while I sat in a session at a writers’ conference, the speaker, author and psychic Victoria Laurie made a comment about deadlines: “It’s not like you can tell your editor that your Uncle Jack died and you need an extension.” Everyone in the room laughed; I felt a chill run down my spine.

After the session, I found Victoria in the hall and approached her. We said hello to each other, and I began. “It’s really strange. I did have an Uncle Jack who died, and I used his death to gain a much needed extension on a book deadline.” Victoria smiled at me. I continued: “Worst of all, I didn’t go to the funeral, but used that time to finish my book.”

“He was your uncle. I wondered where that comment came from,” she said. Victoria went on to do a brief psychic reading and answered my nagging question about how my uncle felt about me using him like that and not attending his funeral. He found it funny, by the way, and was glad to be of service. He had said to us many times throughout his life, “Come visit me while I’m alive, not after I’m dead.”

Victoria had said she wouldn’t be giving any psychic readings during her weekend at the writers’ event. She was there as an author and faculty member, not as a psychic. I felt honored to have received my mini reading with my uncle.

At the conclusion of the conference events a few days later, many of us who attended agreed to meet at the hotel bar for a farewell drink. As I approached our small group, which was spread out at tables in the bar, I saw that Victoria had “save me” eyes. I asked her and another woman if I could join them. Victoria seemed pleased, the other woman unhappy. Turns out, the woman was trying to finagle a reading out of Victoria. My joining them ended that conversation.

After a few minutes, and without comment, Victoria shifted seats at our table and sat directly across from me. She said: “Your family is incredibly loud.”

I laughed. “You have no idea how loud my family can be.” I thought of all the family get-togethers that were always a raucous mix of laughter and fights.

“No, your family on the other side,” Victoria said. “They’re not giving me any choice but to share the messages they have for you.” She proceeded to do a forty-five-minute reading that centered around my paternal grandparents, primarily my grandfather, someone I’d always wanted to meet.

Do you know the party game where you’re asked: “If you could have any three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be?” My first choice was always my grandfather. The other two might change, but my grandfather was always first. I was born in February 1966, and he died in December of that same year. I was the only grandchild in our family with no memory of the man. I’d always felt some draw to know or understand him.

I’d spent a lot of my life wondering about my grandfather and asking about him. No one offered much information. My own father hadn’t been close to his father and he rarely talked about him. Grandpa died many years before my grandmother, but whenever anyone brought him up around her, she’d get teary-eyed, so we all avoided talking about him around her. The bits and pieces I managed to pick up and put together over the years didn’t really fit together well. And yet, I felt this drive to know him that I could never explain.

At the end of the psychic reading Victoria said, “Now I know why I had to come to this conference. I rarely attend conferences, but something urged me to be here for this one. Obviously, it was to connect you with your grandfather.” Chills ran down my spine again.

When the reading was over, I looked around. The woman I’d “saved” Victoria from was nowhere to be seen. For a second time that weekend, I had been honored with a reading from Victoria Laurie. I was so pleased she had come to the conference, too. I bought her another drink and offered to pay her reading fee. She accepted the drink, but refused payment.

When I got home from the conference, I called my father’s sisters. I shared what I had learned from the psychic author. My aunts, surprised I knew so little of him, in turn told me many more stories about my grandfather. I’d always thought of him as James, but it turns out he wasn’t so formal and went by Jimmy. As other stories came out, I discovered that I had taken on many of his traits over my own lifetime, down to the clothes I liked to wear and the foods and beverages I preferred. Like him, I spent years as a heavy smoker (a habit I’ve since kicked!). In the process of trying to know him, I’d become a musician, as he had been. Unlike him, I turned the hobby into a career for about ten years and got to travel the world, something he always wanted to do. He worked in the train yards his whole life, but never traveled more than 100 miles from his home.

Among the many things Victoria shared with me that Saturday night was the fact that my grandfather now spent a lot of time looking over my shoulder, especially when I write. He likes when I write humor pieces the most. And, he is incredibly proud of me. At this moment, like the moment when Victoria shared the sentiment, a wonderful flood of love and emotion rushes over me accompanied by light tingles throughout my body. The difference today is that I know that rush of feeling is an energetic hug from my beloved and long-departed grandfather, Jimmy.

~Gregory A. Kompes

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