When the fellow telephoned in for our session, the first thing that hit me was: “Why am I getting Santa Claus?”
My client laughed, a deep chuckle that made me think of jolly ol’ Saint Nick. Here I was, smack-dab in the middle of a July heat wave, and was I about to give a reading to Father Christmas himself?
“That’s a good one,” he said in a gravelly voice that suggested many years and many cigarettes. “Actually, I’m stationed in the Arctic Circle, several hundred kilometers from the North Pole.”
My turn to laugh. “I was wondering if you were one of Santa’s elves, taking a few minutes off from making toys in the workshop.”
“Making toys.” He chuckled. “That’s a good one.”
I’ll call him Sarge; he was a member of the military, a watcher of the skies – keeping us safe by scanning radar screens for Russian aircraft and other unfriendly aircraft. Not to mention the yearly sleigh loaded with toys and goodies for all good children. His outpost was small, just a handful of soldiers and civilian contractors who passed the time serving their country, drinking coffee and playing solitaire.
“I think you win the prize for the person that’s called me from farthest away,” I joked. “Unless someone contacts me from Antarctica. How did you find me?”
Turns out people who stare incessantly at radar screens get occasional breaks to look at anything but radar screens. One day on his time off, Sarge started roaming around on the internet and somehow found my YouTube channel.
As he was explaining himself, I began to connect with the spirit of a man in uniform. Actually, several men in various uniforms of the Canadian armed forces. I heard the name “Passchendaele” as one fellow pointed to his heart, where he’d been fatally wounded. Sarge listened quietly as I gave him this information, and other messages from his relatives in spirit.
“Sounds like my great-grandfather,” he said, then sighed. “And that guy you described in the Air Force – that might be my dad. He flew some missions in Kuwait, after Iraq invaded in the ‘90s.”
The Air Force veteran stepped forward. “He’s chewing on something,” I said.
Sarge chuckled. “When he was quitting smoking, he started chewing on Tootsie Roll suckers. And then he’d roll the stem around his mouth until it was all gummy.”
“His message to you is, ‘You’re not wasting your time.’ I don’t know what that means. Perhaps you do.”
Sarge took a few deep breaths. “I come from a military family, and I love serving my country. When I joined up, I wanted to be where the action was. Do something that mattered. But instead, here I am watching a radar screen for four hours at a time. I feel like I’m—"
“You are being of service,” I told him, echoing his father’s words and adding a few of my own. “God forbid, you should actually see a missile heading this way. But don’t you see that, in your own way, you’re helping keep all Canadians safe?”
He was quiet, and I added one last message from his father, who told me he’d passed from lung cancer. “Your father wants you to quit smoking.”
He let out a big raspy laugh. “Quit smoking. That’s a good one.”
Sarge said there wasn’t much else to do on base, and I suggested he could start meditating to take his mind off the ennui. He acted like I’d told him to flap his arms and learn to fly.
“Why not check the internet for sites with tips to stop smoking?” I suggested. “Your health is important. It’s the great gift we can give to ourselves.”
And with that, our session ended. I thanked Sarge for his service, then looked at my calendar. Only 127 days ‘til Christmas! And I haven’t even started thinking about shopping!
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