The Welding Link: My Experience with the Paranormal
by Bryan R. Monte
….(T)here is a welding link, of some kind or other, between the fathers and the children…. Joseph Smith, Jr., Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Book of Doctrine and Covenants, Section 110: 18b (Removed 1990).
When I was boy, I awoke one night to see a dead uncle’s head hovering next to my bed. It was then I first realized I was really different. And even though as a teenager I joined a church founded by the son of the man who saw God, Jesus, and an angel floating in the woods of Upstate New York, I knew this was something I couldn’t share with the brothers and sisters at Wednesday night prayer and testimony meeting.
According to the research I’ve done, I’m primarily an involuntary clairsentient—someone who senses things at a distance and who makes predictions based upon feelings or intuitions. Mostly this happens while I’m conscious and includes things such as long-distance fathom pains or also, more recently, unexplained auditory and visual “hallucinations.” Although I do occasionally “see” things in dreams à la Allison DuBois, the psychic who helps the Phoenix Police solve or prevent murders in the television series, Medium, most of what I experience happens while I’m awake.
In addition, I would like to emphasis that these “experiences” come of their own volition. I can’t turn them on or off. Like Ms. DuBois, I can’t consult a crystal ball or put myself into a trance to see the future on demand. And the majority of these experiences are about my family and my partner. So, in general, you can sit next to me or even shake my hand and I won’t know if you’re going to be involved in a serious accident or lose your baby. What’s most unsettling for me is that even if I do “pick up” something, there’s usually nothing I can do about it. Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol who hopes he sees “…shadows of things that may be?” what I perceive is almost always unalterable—and I consider myself lucky just to be able to get out of the way.
In the past 47 years that I have had these premonitions, precognitions, visions and dreams, there are two questions that have really haunted me: “Why do these things happen to me?” and more importantly “What am I supposed to do with this information?” This last question is especially relevant when it comes to sudden intuitions or insights about strangers.
About ten years ago, I started to talk to my family about my “experiences.” I discovered my mother and older sister both had their own stories. Other siblings either hadn’t been affected or would have none of it. From these discussions, I can infer that my clairvoyance is hereditary and has been handed down on my mother’s side for at least three generations. My German-American grandmother and one of my three aunts in Ohio developed something of a reputation for having “experiences.” They also believed in faith healings and joined the Christian Science church, though my grandfather and uncle remained Lutherans. My mother, who had far too much pain in her life to give up pills, found and held onto my pharmacist father, much like Jacob wrestling with the angel, until he finally agreed—three years later—to marry her. Mother was not a healer, but rather a visionary who had frighteningly reliable premonitions. “There’s a tornado coming!” or “You’re going to slide off the road in the snow!” she’d say as I walked or drove away from home, years before Doppler Radar and severe weather warnings. And she was always right.
Unlike grandmother and my mother, though, I am not a healer and very rarely, a visionary. I do, however, have a very sensitive antenna that picks up bad news hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
The day my father had his fatal heart attack in March 1988 would probably be the classic example of how my clairsentience works. This, I might add, is also probably one of the most common paranormal experiences. For example, Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current generators and wireless electrical transmission, dreamt of his mother’s impending death. He left New York immediately for present-day Croatia and arrived just hours before she expired.
In my case, I had not seen my family for more than eight months after moving from Massachusetts to San Francisco in 1987. I had called my mother around Christmas, but hadn’t heard anything unusual regarding my father’s health. One day in mid-March 1988, however, while lunching in the company canteen, I suddenly felt sharp, repeated chest pains. I turned to one of my co-workers and said: “I’m having a heart attack.” She looked at me and laughed. “You’re perfectly healthy!” and she was right. Then I thought, ‘I’m not having a heart attack, my father is.’ My heart felt like an anvil stuck by a hammer, the waves ringing down through my torso into my legs and feet, through the floor, reverberating towards the center of the earth. I also felt surprise, confusion, sorrow, apprehension, regret and the thought that my father was being taken to a place of instruction.
A bit shaken, I went back to my desk and phoned my family home. No one answered. I gave the underwriters the risk analysis computer runs I’d just completed that morning so they could finish pricing a big account renewal. I told them I would be gone unexpectedly for a few days. Around four o’clock my roommate called. Rather guardedly, he said there was a message on the answering machine I needed to listen to when I got home. I thanked him for his concern. I had to drive through very heavy, rush-hour traffic, and even on a good day, I was a nervous driver. I told him, however, I had already got the message and would be home at the usual time. After I arrived home, I got one of my younger brothers on the phone and he confirmed that my father had just died from a heart attack.
Similar to my father’s passing, when my mother had her final stroke, I shared her pain and discomfort long distance. I was in Missouri, preparing to go to Salt Lake City to deliver a paper. This time, my youngest brother called me to say that my mother was in hospital after having had a stroke. He assured me, however, that she was doing well and had been talking and laughing with the ambulance drivers and hospital staff.
“You don’t need to come home. She’s all right,” he told me. That night, however, I was awakened by hunger pains, which I rarely experience. In college I could miss several meals while working on papers. I wouldn’t realize it though, until I suddenly felt lightheaded, fell over or couldn’t dial the telephone properly.
I got up early the next morning and ate breakfast hoping that would take care of the pain, but it didn’t. It was then that I knew my mother was in distress and I made arrangements to go back to Ohio.
When I arrived at the hospital, I discovered my mother had had nothing solid to eat for three days. In addition, she could no longer talk, nor did she recognize me. Her “wandering” left hand had been tied to the bedframe because it had repeatedly ripped out her IVs and tried to push her out of bed.
“She gagged when we tried to feed her with a tube,” the nurse said. Then she pointed to the clear solution going into her veins. “She gets nutrition from that.”
That might have been the case, but the lack of food in her stomach had probably also given my mother tremendous hunger pains. My mother, a strong woman who had born five children without complications and who thirty years ago had gained so much weight she could only wear stretch pants, now lay in bed as thin and as light as a bird.
“She needs to be fed!” I insisted but no one listened. And by the time they finally did get a line into her, she was almost gone. The next day she lapsed into a coma before dying three weeks later.
Precognition and premonitions
The next type of “experience” I’ve had both while conscious and while dreaming. And although my family isn’t aware of this, my precognition was responsible for my changing popularity in high school and for winning a college scholarship.
The summer of 1973, I was enrolled in a trigonometry course. The night before an exam, I had a dream in which I saw all the test questions including which ones I would get right and wrong. The next morning I took the same exam, but even though I had had a preview the night before, I still couldn’t make myself change my answers to change my score.
During my junior year, I gained a reputation for being able to get high marks on history exams. From the thousands of years covered, the hundreds of documents mentioned and the dozen theories discussed, I was able to predict with regularity the periods, documents and theories tested. Classmates, who had formerly ignored or bullied me, fought hard to be in my study group. I scored so well on a statewide exam that I was offered a full scholarship to a state university. Much to my parents’ consternation, however, I didn’t take it. While on campus that same weekend, I had had a strong, overpoweringly ill feeling—as if something horrible instead of wonderful might happen to me on that campus. Four years later while studying somewhere else, I heard that two gay men had almost been killed there. The door to their room had been set alight. The only way the university finally brought the situation under control was to empty out that entire dormitory and re-house everyone at different locations across campus.
Another time a foreboding feeling caused me to change my plans and do something the hard way was in December 1985, when I was preparing to deliver a paper at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention in Chicago. Instead of flying from Providence, Rhode Island, which would have taken about two hours and been much more comfortable, I went by train, which took a day and half. I did this because for months I had had a recurring a dream of a terrorist attack at an airport. I left Providence the day after Christmas and arrived in Chicago on the 27th. When I got to my hotel room and switched on the television, I saw the news footage of two coordinated attacks earlier that day in the Rome and Vienna.
Not all my premonitions have been unpleasant, however. While on holiday in 1989, I walked past the cheese, fish, bakery, flower and clothing stalls in Haarlem’s cobblestoned Grote Markt in front of the red-bricked St. Bavo church with its iron-crowned spire. Standing next to the bronze-green statue of Laurens Janzoon Coster, the 15th century Dutch Gutenberg, I suddenly had the most overwhelmingly certain feeling that I would live there one day. I had wanted to move to the Netherlands for about three years, but I couldn’t explain the intensity of this feeling. It went beyond hopeful enthusiasm. Besides, my chances of exchanging the sun, fog, rolling hills and perpetual white breakers of the San Francisco’s Ocean Beach for Haarlem’s church bells, museums, narrow streets, bicycles and rain were quite slim. I wasn’t in love with anyone Dutch nor did I work for company that could send me there to do business, which is how all the other Americans I knew in the Netherlands had come to live there. I had a few acquaintances in a Dutch, gay dining club, the Donderdagavond Eet Club or DEC, but no one with whom I was in love. I went back to the US and my job as a system administrator at an insurance firm in downtown San Francisco.
When I told my friends about my premonition in the town square they laughed. “Everyone has that feeling on vacation,” they said. “It’s called Shirley Valentine Syndrome,” after the main character of a British film of the same name. It portrayed the life of a woman who leaves her little, rainy, numbing, gray life in Britain for a bigger, sunny, more sensual one along the blue Aegean.
Every year thereafter, I went back to the Netherlands for two weeks on holiday, wearing my blue blazer, a red tie and khaki trousers, distributing CVs at all the English-language schools from Overijssel in the North to Limburg in the South. By April 1993, I’d lost my job due to my insurance company’s fourth reorganization when one day the phone rang. An international school in Amsterdam was looking for a new system administrator right away. It was only a part-time job, but the school was also willing to offer occasional substitute teaching jobs to supplement my income since I was a native speaker and had two degrees in English. I packed a bag and left immediately for Amsterdam.
At the interview, I was asked if I knew how to work with the “new” Apple laptop, the PowerBook. I took mine out of my bag and started it up, its now familiar chimes startling the interviewer slightly.
“What would you like to know?” I said placing it on his desk. Then the interviewer asked about my experience with the new TrueType fonts and data backup. I told him what I knew about the recent transition from Postscript to TrueType fonts and about the automated backup systems I had used at the insurance company where I had worked. Then he asked if I could get into the school’s server, which was in a locked room. I asked for a network cable.
“Would you like grades, medical records or meeting notes?” I asked five minutes later. I was hired and within three months, most of my belongings and I had been transported from San Francisco’s Ocean Beach to a house three miles from Haarlem’s Grote Markt.
Tactile, Auditory and Visual Phenomena
During the last decade, my intuitions have not only been emotive but also tactile and visual. I’ve picked up things occasionally from shaking people’s hands. I’m not just talking about colds or vibes either. I’m talking about two specific instances of information about someone’s present or future health. The first time was in August 2001. I had just taken my first, permanent, college teaching job. It’s a custom in the Netherlands to meet your colleagues individually and shake their hands. That’s how I met a colleague who was pregnant and who everyone was busy telling how healthy she looked. “She’s glowing,” they said. I looked at her and saw something completely different. She looked “green around the gills,” as my mother would say. I shook her hand and knew immediately her baby was dying or dead. I didn’t mentioned anything to the woman, but when I went home that night I told my partner while he was making supper.
“She’s going to lose the baby.”
About a month later, the woman got the bad news from her doctor.
The second time I learned something from shaking a new acquaintance’s hand was in August 2006 in Salt Lake. By coincidence, I happened to meet an editor in a supermarket who was about to publish one of my long poems in her literary magazine. She was with her teenage daughter who was a bit embarrassed and bothered by a large, uncomfortable, old-fashioned, metal and tan leather padded knee brace she had to wear due to a recent volleyball injury. When I shook her daughter’s hand, a little voice inside my head said: “Her injuries are going to get much worse before they get any better.” It was the last time I saw the editor alive. Two weeks later, the car in which she and her daughter were travelling was involved in a collision. The editor died and her daughter suffered multiple spinal injuries.
Similar to my nightmares about the airport attacks in 1985, from 2005 to 2008 I would often wake weeping, having dreamt that I’d been unable to attend my mother’s funeral. Due to this, I tried to visit my mother as often as I could because I knew her time was running out. This didn’t seem logical, though, because she was only in her late 70s, and her mother and grandmother had lived well into their 90s.
A vision my mother related to me during a visit to Ohio in January 2008, however, indicated that there were grounds for concern. As she lay in bed one evening, she saw a man wearing a hood obscuring his face, walk out of her closet.
“Mary,” he said, “I’ve come to take you home.”
“Alright,” she said at first, not remembering where she was. When she looked up and realized she was already in her own bed, she said, “Hey, wait a second, I’m already home.” Then angry and frightened, she shouted. “Who are you,” followed by “Get out of here!” My mother said the man then ran back into her closet and disappeared
I knew then it was time to say goodbye to my mother. I went up to the attic and got my stamp collection and my box of my high school and college correspondence and awards and took them back with me to Europe.
After my mother went into a coma in August 2008, I went on to Salt Lake City to deliver a paper. Then I flew back home to the Netherlands. On the way back, my feet started to buzz, tingle and then burn. This pain became stronger and spread further up my legs. It became increasingly uncomfortable to wear shoes and trousers. At night I couldn’t even put a sheet over my legs without being awakened from the pain. I took aspirin and elevated my legs, but nothing seemed to alleviate the pain. I even put ice packs in my socks and underpants to try to decrease my discomfort so I could make it through my meetings, classes and lectures. A few weeks later my mother died. The doctors and the airlines, however, wouldn’t permit me fly to the States. From the symptoms I described and the way I walked, they were afraid I had thrombosis or some other dangerous medical condition. So in the end, I missed my mother’s funeral just as I’d always dreamt and feared.
In addition, while I was still grieving at home and at work, the pain in my legs increased so much that within a month, I was hospitalized. After spine and brain scans, an angiogram and a spinal tap, I was finally discharged with a preliminary diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Since the onset of this illness, my “experiences,” seem to have a new, visual component that has been missing since childhood. Due to my medical condition, it became necessary to look for a new apartment with a lift. I did this quickly because a woman in my hospital ward with similar symptoms ended up with a paralyzed hand and foot. As a result, a social worker banned her from her fourth floor apartment in a building with no lift. My partner and I also lived in a fourth floor apartment with no lift.
As soon as we could, we began looking at properties around town. While viewing two condos, I had two visual “experiences.” We found an apartment that was the right size, price, and just a block away, but for some unexplainable reason, I felt very uncomfortable similar to the time I was ill on the university campus. On my second visit, I looked out the master bedroom window and momentarily caught a glimpse of an old man with white hair in the building across the alley glaring at me angrily. When I looked a moment later, he was gone. I told my partner that something terrible was going to happen in the building across the alley. He laughed it off and put in a low bid for the apartment so that if we discovered something was wrong with it, we would still have the money for repairs. Our bid, however, was rejected and I told my partner not to place a second.
A few months later we looked at another apartment across from an old, abandoned school. We’d seen the apartment once before and found it a bit too small even though it was slightly larger than the one we lived in. Moving in would be a question of my partner being prepared to put some things in storage in order for everything to fit.
While he was thinking about that, I looked out the window at the front and side yards the school across the street. They were covered with metre-high, purple thistles and short, orange poppies and other wild flowers. Suddenly, I saw children, who weren’t there, playing in the yards. “They’re going to reopen the school,” I told my partner.
“No, they won’t,” he countered. “It’s going to be turned into apartments. I read it in the newspaper.”
“It’s going to be a school again,” I insisted. I was afraid of buying an apartment directly across from a school because our present apartment was directly across from one. The result of which was that we were treated during the day to primary school children’s screams and awakened in the middle of the night at weekends to the drunken shouts of teenagers sitting on the playground equipment. We didn’t, however, put a bid in on the apartment across from the school because a slightly larger unit on the other side of the same building became available, which we purchased.
About six months after we’d moved into the slightly larger apartment, I happened to bicycle past the first apartment where we’d offered the low bid. I smelt smoke and was horrified to see that the building had had a major fire the night before. The first floor had been gutted and the fire brigade were still picking carefully through the dripping-wet debris. The fire had been so hot or the flames so high that it/they had melted the drainpipes of the apartment building where my partner had placed the low bid. And, in addition to the usual smoke and water damage, asbestos had also been released. A day later, the burnt building was taped off in three-story-high plastic sheets while workers in white, plastic disposal suits and breathing apparatus scrubbed the walls of the burnt building.
Three more months later, a ten-foot-high sign appeared in the abandoned school’s front yard. Dag- en naschool verblijfcentrum “Day and afterschool childcare centre.” In addition, the centre’s hours will be almost twice as long as a normal school’s, from 7 AM to 7 PM. So, back to my question: What do I do with this information? A college friend back in Phoenix (not Allison DuBois) has told me that if I ever I shake her daughter’s hand and hear something, I am to tell her immediately, no matter what. Others have told me to keep my hallucinations to myself.
Someday science may discover some ultra-low frequency, genetic senders and receivers, the welding link, which led to my reception of my parents’ fatal distress. Maybe then I will understand how they contacted me before “checking out,” and why, instead of sharing their joy with me, all I perceived was their final distress. Perhaps science may also one day discover the existence of auras, why some people can see them, and why I detected a disease and a future injury in two strangers.
And someday I hope to understand the origin and the meaning of the last experience I am about to relate. With my new malady and medications, I returned to work even though walking, talking, writing and teaching became progressively slower, more difficult and painful. To help conserve energy and to stay at college as long as possible, I asked for a room where I could rest for an hour in the middle of each workday. I received permission to use the first-aid room in another building on campus used by some of my own students who had MS. For half an hour I tried to let go of the pain, to lie still on the thick, black, cushioned examination table so that the motion-activated lights would go out and the windowless room would become pitch black.
Sometimes I would doze in this darkness, other times I was so restless, preoccupied with college business or the persistent burning pain in my foot or leg, that the lights never went out. This time however, completely exhausted, I quickly feel asleep in the cool blackness. And I dreamt I saw my mother again, not the thin, bird-like woman tied to the hospital bed, but the robust woman I knew in her early 40s, her round body filled with muscle and energy, wrapped in radiant, white clothing. She came through the veil Joseph Smith, Jr. described separating this world from the next and floated over the table. I reached out to her through the blackness that separated us. She took my hands in hers and said in Dutch: Ik wil je laten weten dat je veel voor mij betekent. “I want you to know that you mean a lot to me.” Then footsteps in the corridor outside awakened me.