Blog: Speaking with the Dead

Burt Ross

I have watched enough television and movies to know that many people are fascinated by the possibility of making contact with the departed. The famous magician Harry Houdini attended several seances in an attempt to speak to his late mother, with, you guessed it, limited success—make that very limited success.

I would like to make my wishes clear here and now, lest there be any confusion after I expire. (We all have expiration dates.) Please do not make any attempt to reach me. I will have turned my cell phone off once and for all. If you had something to tell me before I left the scene, you had your chance and blew it. 

I don’t want to hear that I owe you money, or I offended you in one of my columns, or I could have lived longer if only I had stayed on the stationary bike 30 not 25 minutes each day. 

And as for my wanting to speak with someone who has gone “elsewhere,” I have some serious reservations about that. Yes, it would be beyond moving to hear the voices of my parents once again, but I am not certain what I might hear.

For instance, I can hear my mother’s voice as if she were here today, “Why don’t you dry Kate’s hair before letting her play outside? She will catch pneumonia.” My response would not move her, “Mom, Kate is a doctor, and besides, wet hair doesn’t give you pneumonia.” “Burt, you are no doctor. You don’t know what you are talking about,” and thus the conversation would end.

My imagined reconnection with Dad might prove equally as frustrating, “Son, did you ever buy stock in Sears like I told you to?” “No, Pop, Sears is financially on the ropes.  They couldn’t compete with Home Depot and Amazon’s online sales.”

“What are you talking about? Sears will never go under. And what is Home Depot and what is online?” 

And so the next time we want to speak with a loved one who has crossed to the other side, let’s be patient. If those who predict we will all be united once again are correct, then we might well have all of eternity to hear about drying hair and buying stock in Sears.