My dad, John Kampsen, could have been president, I swear. He’s the kind of guy that not only is well read, but he will engage in conversation so passionately that it makes you feel…important! He always remembers names, from the whole church congregation to the local gas station attendant. People WANT to be friends with him! He’s a helluva fit 73 years, and will randomly break into Thai chi while asking about your family. Or he may grab a guitar and play one of the finest versions of “twinkle twinkle little star” you’ve ever heard for the kids. He’s magnetic.
The problem is, everyone wants a piece of him, and rarely does anyone get it for long. My grandma, when she was alive, would spend much of our phone calls passive-aggressively mentioning that she hadn’t heard from my dad in months, or that my dad wasn’t coming over for Christmas that year. I would always tell her, “Welcome to the club, Gram!” Although it was probably just as much the other way around; me complaining and her trying to make me feel better by sharing that she, too, was out of the ‘Dad loop.’
Side note: If you’ve followed along with me from the get-go here, you may remember that my dad is also the person that wholeheartedly thinks I’m going to hell for doing mediumship. (I’m SURE he’d argue the semantics of that statement, but that’s the gist.) I remember one time I was so excited to have had another medium explain to me that Jesus himself was a prophet and spoke with the other side- and I excitedly called my dad thinking this would finally be the ticket; our two worlds ARE compatible! Crushingly, his reply was, “you think you’re the same as JESUS?!?!”
The point is, I want more of my Dad. I’ve always wanted more. More phone calls, more visits, more anything. It’s a weird thing to go though life angry that you don’t get enough of a person. It tends to make you feel like you aren’t enough. His passion for cacti and planting is almost certainly why I have way too many potted plants on my windowsills. His love of music is probably why I wanted to learn every instrument I could get my hands on. I wanted to connect with him.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often.
And even more unfortunately, my dad now has really aggressive leukemia.
A few days ago, I had a reading with a young college aged girl. The only thing I knew going into it was that her name is Devon. Come to find out, she lost her older brother, Nick, when she was in high school. It was a wonderful reading, even if I was feeling a bit rusty, because he gave small bits of evidence that, even if it was just a word to me- “Baseball”- Devon would smile and know exactly what he was talking about.
At the end of the reading, Devon’s brother showed me the book “Signs” by Laura Lynn Jackson. I’ve had this book since it came out in 2019, but it’s the first time it has popped up in a reading. I knew he wanted her to read it because he was really going to step up his “sign game” for her, but also wanted to make sure she would recognize when it was happening.
Within a day or two, Devon had already texted me that she’d gotten a sign. She was at a concert and witnessed the exact same scenario I had described in the reading about a guy with curly hair. At the time, we didn’t know what it meant. She offered, “It’s probably my dad, he has curly hair.”
“No, that doesn’t feel right,” I told her. All I was seeing was an outline, but I knew this curly haired guy was younger. I assumed it was a friend of Nick’s, but Devon couldn’t place it.
At the concert, though, as soon as Devon saw this man’s outline, she noticed he was wearing the same logo-ed brand of clothing her brother wore “all the time, but I haven’t seen since.”
It seems so simple –it’s just a kid in a shirt– but I always stress to people, don’t let your own expectations (and just as importantly other’s expectations) dictate what constitutes a sign. Trust that “ting” that you feel! That “ting” is coming from something other than you. Don’t make the mistake of getting a sign that you KNOW deep down IS a sign, and then go “well if it’s REALLY you… blink the lights twice” or something just as silly. It doesn’t work like that. Learn to trust when you get a sign. And remember you dont have to explain (prove) it to anyone. Your connection to your loved one in spirit is as real (and private!) as you want it to be.
In the few days after my reading with Devon, I was talking to my sister, Laurel, on the phone. Laurel is a nurse, and thus is familiar with the terms and meds and all the things that are going on with my dad while he goes through chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, and now… Leukemia. This is all in the past year. He and his wife retired, thinking they would finally get to do some traveling in their golden years, and as he put it it, ‘Then Covid hit… and then… Cancer.”
That morning my dad’s wife, Toni, had started texting us updates again. We already knew the cancer was back, but now his picc line to get the next round of chemo was infected. Dad couldn’t seem to catch a break and was back in the hospital. Laurel wondered aloud if she should get in her car and drive to Detroit. She lives in Virginia, so it’s not a quick jaunt, to say the least. She asked if I wanted to get a plane ticket and meet her there. But, we had doubt about going… “dad’s immune system… will the hospital let us in?… will dad and Toni feel burdened with us being there?” We agreed to reassess in the morning.
I then filled Laurel in on the reading with Devon. (Laurel is my biggest Small Medium fan, so I tend to go right to her with all the details. It’s the ONE thing in life that she defers to me for- spiritual guidance- so I usually tell her what I’m reading, what mediations I’m doing, etc.) I quickly mentioned I had seen the book “Signs” as a message. Laurel thanked me for reminding her, as she had the book on her shelf, too, and could see from where she was that it has a bookmark in it, and thus she needed to finish it.
And then we hung up.
I’m telling you, not four minutes later, I get this text from Laurel. She had taken down the Signs book to do a little reading, and this is the page it opened up to. THIS IS WHERE THE BOOKMARK WAS.
This is Laura Lynn Jackson’s book. Here she is talking about *her* dad, John. That *their* relationship was difficult. That *he* played guitar all the time. Laurel and I may have well written this paragraph!!!
After our heads stopped spinning, we both concluded that this indeed was a sign for us. But, what did it mean? Should we drop everything and get to Michigan? Again, we decided to sleep on it and see how we felt the next morning.
The next day, I called Laurel. Our dad was, of course, still in the hospital. “Should we go?” After mulling it over, we decided to wait. Clearly we’d gotten a sign, but did it mean to leave now? Or just that our Dad is up against an unbeatable competitor and we should start planning? What we didn’t want to do was project a sense of urgency to my dad and his wife, and worry them anymore than they already were.
If this was the end of my story, one would tend to think that it was pretty good in and of itself. “What a cool sign!” But NOOOOOOO. Spirit always has another trick up their sleeve!
Within an hour of the phone call with my sister, I received a text from a woman I sort of recently met, Amy. She’s a friend of my cousin, and I met her and her family when they all vacationed together in Austin last year. In chatting with her, we realized we were both into the “woo woo” stuff and have kept in touch every once in a while since. Well, I hadn’t heard from Amy in a few months at least, but that day she sent me this message:
Yeah. If my head was spinning before, it was now rolling down the hallway.
I quickly sent Amy a message back, going “You’re not gonna believe this but…” and I filled her in on what had transpired so far. “I dont wanna spoil anything but late in the book the author talks about her dad, John dying, which is my dads name and…” I gave her the whole rundown.
Let’s also revisit the fact that this book was released three years ago! Its not like it just came out and we are all reading a current NYT bestseller.
I FaceTimed my sister right then basically screaming, “you’re not gonna believe this!” And as we rehashed the whole crazy story, I get a new voice memo from Amy, in which she said:
“Well, Holly, it is a sign for you and Laurel to go to Michigan because when you popped in my head that’s what I was reading. The part about Laura Lynn Jackson’s dad John who is dying. That’s the chapter I was reading when I got the sign to text you and show you the book… fucking weird ass shit, dont you think?!” (That last part is why I really get along with Amy.)
I dont even know what to write here. All I feel is stunned silence. My jaw can’t drop any more. My eyes can’t open any wider. I am just in absolute…. awe. Just when I think Spirit is done stepping up their game with me, VOILA! It’s unreal.
But is isn’t. It’s REAL.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit… so far, the wrap up to this story is fairly anti-climactic.
We have NOT left for Michigan yet.
I know, I know. It seems like I’m not taking my own advice about trusting signs. The thing is, I KNOW its a sign. I’m just not sure it was a sign saying, “get in the car RIGHT NOW.” God, I hope its not, because I’m still sitting at my desk in Texas while my dad is 1,432 miles away. I AM preparing, though. I’m calling my dad more often, I’m saying “I love you” at the end of every call, and I’ve asked him to please let me know when he is OK with me coming out. I told him I will hop on a plane tomorrow if he gives me the go-ahead. I also know that this sign I received is probably just as much of a “don’t listen to him, go anyway” as anything. John Kampsen is as stubborn as he is magnetic, and I can’t imagine the time will ever be “just right” for him to green light our trip. There will always be something.
Maybe, just maybe, the sign here is telling me I just need to take what I need finally, which is time with my dad, John.