The real magic
I stood in wide-eyed wonderment in the lounge of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA, an exclusive and amazing club that celebrates magic and magicians. My friend's dad, George, was a member, and was taking me and my family there as his guests for my 14th birthday. The paintings on the walls had eyes that eerily followed me as I walked across the room. There was a piano, played by a "ghost" named Irma who would take special requests. I watched in awe as the keys of her piano magically went up and down as she played. I was utterly convinced she was real.
We watched a couple of astonishing magic acts, and took a tour of the building before sitting down for a delicious lunch. I was enraptured by the Houdini Room, where a seance was conducted every Halloween in an attempt to conjure the spirit of Houdini. When the tour guide told us that no contact had ever been made, I felt extremely sad, and silently spoke to Houdini promising, "I will let you speak through me someday, Mr. Houdini." In retrospect, it is so strange that I said this, because at the time I did not know what a medium was, let alone that some mediums allowed spirits to speak through them. It was only after Houdini spoke through me in 2005 that I remembered my promise to him.
I absolutely adored George. He was like a second father to me. He was involved in politics and knew lots of celebrities. One day he had a Sundae Sunday catered by Baskin-Robbins at his house, and inadvertently set us kids loose on the dozens of cans of whipped cream in the kitchen, which we joyfully squirted into our mouths, and at each other.
Sadly, as happens in life, time and distance came between us all, and we went our separate ways.
Thirty years later, I had a reunion with George in Southern California. His son, Steve, and I had gotten back in touch, and I was staying with him for several weeks. While there, I had the opportunity to visit George regularly at his home in Dana Point. He was bedridden with Parkinson's, and I would comb his hair, massage his feet, cook and clean for him, and spend hours talking with him. What a joy it was to reciprocate the love he had shown me when I was young! Eventually, with my help he was able to get out of bed, and we danced together to the tunes that he loved. And then, one day, with an impish grin, he said, "Let's go get an In-n-Out burger!" Somehow, despite his waning cognitive skills, he was able to help me navigate the freeways, and we found In-n-Out, and ate our bounty in a beautiful park. Later, at his house, we even snuck a glass of wine together, much to the chagrin of his children.
Alas, Steve and I parted ways, and once again I lost touch with George.
A few years later I was now in a new, very boring relationship. One day the phone rang and to my amazement, it was George on the other end of the phone. He was in a nursing home, and said he felt good, but really missed soft serve ice cream, and asked me how I was doing. For some reason I mentioned my new boyfriend, and that he had no interest in getting married. George went into a rage, and lovingly ranted about how my boyfriend had no idea what a wonderful woman he was with, and gushed about my virtuous qualities and how I deserved better. He couldn't understand why I would stay in a relationship with a man like that, and admonished me to set higher standards for myself. My heart was so full as he rallied for me, and by the end of our conversation I said sincerely, "I love you, George." There was a moment of silence on the other end of the phone, and then George inhaled and softly said, "Summer, do me a favor. More than loving me, please love yourself." I nearly cried as I assured him I would, and then we said our goodbyes. I wrote his words down, and tucked the paper into my wallet, and carried them around for years.
It was the last time I would talk with George. About a week later, I heard from Steve who told me of his passing. I told Steve about our last conversation, and he was befuddled. "But...my Dad was in a coma. He couldn't talk to anyone." And then, after some thought, he corrected himself. "Actually, I think you are one of three people that he snapped out of the coma for and called at the end. You were really special to him." To say I felt blessed doesn't even cover the emotions this brought up in me.
The Magic Castle was an unforgettable experience. But, even more unforgettable was the magic of that conversation with George at the end of his life. It was love that brought him out of the coma to talk with me.
When all is said and done, the real, most powerful and enduring magic, is LOVE.
Abracadabra! I love you, George. And, I have learned to love myself because of our magical relationship.
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