The Skeptic Meets The Psychic

How A Mother Of Four Made A Grown Man Cry

By Bob Olson

On Friday the 15th of January, 1999, my newly published book was released. I'll admit it was exciting. However, a couple days after its release I had a talk with my father. That was a great deal more exciting because my father had been dead for almost two years. And this is where my story begins.

My wife, Melissa, and I were at her parents' summer home in Wells, Maine for a long weekend. The New England weather had been furious, biting cold with tankards of snow. Homeowners, business owners, and even the town highway departments could not contend with the persistent snowfall, so roads and driveways were spotted with icy-white glaciers where the snow had become petrified on the asphalt.

Because Melissa's brother, Derek, and I were both donning large bruises on our derrieres due to the icy driveway, we thought it wise to spread some sand before someone really got hurt. Living so close to the ocean, the beach seemed the obvious place to obtain a bucket of sand. Later we learned there are laws against such an act. Thinking about it in hindsight, that makes sense. But at the time, we were just two dumb cavemen finding a solution to our problem.

Derek had recently visited a nearby psychic medium, someone who communicates with spirits. So during our trip to the ocean, he enthusiastically narrated the amazing details she revealed about his life, "Information she could never have known," he exclaimed. "Things you and Melissa don't even know," he added for emphasis. The story lasted until the driveway was covered with sand. In the end, I was both intrigued and frostbitten.

Over the weekend, Derek's story dominated my thoughts the way a teenage boy thinks about sex, constantly yet silently. I was deeply skeptical, but I thought it was fun going to psychics and fortunetellers. Derek and I, as well as other members of Melissa's family, had gone to spiritual practitioners in the past. I was never impressed and thought every one of them to be a fraud. Nevertheless, I continued to try new ones for the entertainment of it and always with a spec of hope that I might find one with a genuine gift.

Because my curiosity teased me, I finally phoned Derek's psychic medium on the last day of our stay. Her name is Vicki. It was Sunday so I really didn't expect she would see me; but it was worth making the call because not knowing if she was legitimate was toying with my sanity. I was taken by surprise when she said I could come to her home at four o'clock that afternoon. I booked the appointment and hung up the phone.

I immediately regretted making the appointment. Melissa and I weren't rolling in greenbacks at the time, so I had a sense that I was wasting the money it was going to cost for the one-hour reading. I expected this Vicki woman was another fraud adept at firing off generalizations that could pertain to nearly everyone who walked through her door. It wasn't that I didn't believe Derek's story, but I saw him as a "believer”; and being a skeptic, I sometimes wondered if Derek was a bit naïve when it came to such matters. I considered calling Vicki back and canceling the appointment.

Melissa convinced me to not cancel, saying I originally wanted to go so it was important that I keep the appointment. She was confused by my sudden change of mind. I explained my skepticism and she replied by arousing my curiosity again: "What if she really is gifted? Derek said she was. You'll always wonder unless you go." I hesitated in thought. "Look," she said, "You already made the appointment, it would be rude to cancel now." She was right, of course. I made the decision to go.

The weather that January day had a suspicious change of mood, an April sun with an air of rebirth in the breeze and melting ice. After a refreshing day by the ocean, Melissa and I made the trip to Vicki's home. As we made the half-hour drive into the countryside, swerving to dodge the ice chunks that hated my Volvo, I vowed not to divulge a single hint about my personality, my work, my marriage, my family, my past or my future goals during conversation with Vicki. "If this woman is truly gifted, she is going to have to prove it," I demanded. We even decided that Melissa would stay in the car so that Vicki couldn't visually learn anything about Melissa or deduct any revealing signals about our relationship. I was putting this so-called psychic medium to the test and she was going to have to earn her money without any help from me.

As we drove up the endless gravel driveway, Melissa and I were instantly drenched with envy at the view of Vicki's postcard farmhouse with an operational barn, horses roaming the fields and children sledding in the snow a short distance away. I avoided the chickens and parked our car so nobody in the house could see Melissa. As I approached the doorway, I met with memories of my past as I heard the children's voices echo across the snow-glazed fields. I knocked and was immediately greeted by a woman I assumed to be Vicki.

I couldn't really see her, as the sun was beaming and the front porch entryway was shadowed. She invited me in and I followed her to an in-law apartment attached to the farmhouse. She said it was where her mother lived, but that her mother was away on vacation. It was spacious and clean with that new addition feel to it, and it was furnished with comfortable cozy chairs and a couch. I quickly sat on the first chair I approached as if to seek sanctuary from my fears and uncertainty, trying not to expose my jittery limbs. Finally, I got a look at Vicki.

I was expecting a slightly rotund forty-or-fifty-something-year-old woman wearing a gypsy outfit and sporting a rather large wart on her face. Instead, Vicki was a thin, small-framed thirty-something-year-old, no wart, and wore white jeans and a fleece top. Except for her flaming red locks that fell past her shoulders and framed her entire face—giving her a witches-of-Salem kind of look—she appeared very normal.

My immediate impression was that she was way too young and much too pretty to be a "real" psychic medium. All I could think was, "I might as well just give her my money and leave. This is going to be a complete waste of time." I figured Vicki read a couple books on developing your psychic abilities or spirit communication and decided it was a good way to make extra cash while she stayed at home with the kids. Now that I saw her and sized her up, I could feel my body language change from hopefully anxious to skeptically aloof.

Since I quickly snapped up the chair, Vicki walked to my left and sat on the couch, rather comfortably I noticed, with her legs bent under her like she was about to watch a movie with the family. I half expected the microwave to ding signaling the popcorn was ready. Her casualness made me feel a tiny bit at ease, but I knew even she sensed my guard was still up. She told me that she didn't want me to tell her anything about myself, and only to answer her questions with a "yes, no or maybe." She didn't want me to add any details or fill-in with information that she was missing, because she would eventually put it all together as the reading progressed.

I had already vowed (to Melissa and myself) not to tell her anything, but I was now more relaxed knowing she wasn't going to pry. My curiosity was peaked. All I could think was, "What if she's legit?" And then I quickly caught hold of myself, remembering all the phony psychics and fortunetellers I had visited in the past. I was determined not to let my guard down and get suckered in by her calm-mannered unassuming manipulation.

Within minutes, Vicki was rattling off details about my life that were hard to chalk up to a lucky guess. She told me that she communicates with people's spirit-guides, "angels if you prefer to call them, but without the wings," she said. These are spirits, souls, who are "in the light," and are around each of us to help aid us through life. She said we all have many guides who help us with the different facets of our existence. Some are people we know from this lifetime who have passed on and have made the transition back to the spirit world. Others are souls who did not exist in this lifetime but have been with us in other lifetimes, or at least have been with us in the spirit world between lives.

Vicki talked like a poet. She had this calming tone to her voice where her words flowed from her lips like a violin playing Mozart. I thought to myself how she would be perfect for one of those meditation tapes. But it was more than the sound of her voice; it was also the words she chose, melodically lyrical, bordering on angelic (if you'll excuse the pun). Yet it didn't sound phony like someone repeating a poem that they don't really understand. Vicki's words came from her heart. And, slowly, they melted my icy apprehension. I couldn't help but to stop fighting her like a cat in a net and at least listen to what she was saying.

Vicki said that the spirit world is actually "home" to us. I thought this was a comforting notion. “This earthly existence is a temporary place of learning and growing,” she said.

"Much like college?" I jumped in.

"Sure. A little bit like going away to school," she patiently replied. Vicki explained that, when we die, our souls leave this earthly life of fleshly confinement to go home where we feel free and liberated in the surrounding comfort of God's light and love.

As nice as it sounded, a lot of this went right over my head like so much mumbo-jumbo. I was somewhat ignorant in this area. And while it was all amusingly interesting to me, I also didn't know what to make of it. I was still skeptical and was not going to be made the fool. Then she told me that two of my guides were in the room.


I took a deep breath. She identified them as my grandmother (whom she identified by name) and my father (whom she described with accuracy). It was lucky for Vicki that both had died, I thought. How embarrassing it would have been if they were still alive. But they weren't. Okay, she got lucky. I waited for more evidence.

Vicki said that my grandmother was telling her that I was a big skeptic, a "wanna-believer" who hoped there was an afterlife but needed a lot of proof. "Bingo" on the latter. She told Vicki that they needed to prove to me that my grandmother was really there. She proceeded to name a few of my cousins by their first names. Not bad considering the names she gave were all my grandmother's grandchildren. She also congratulated me on my new business venture.

Vicki told me that my grandmother was placing white flowers all around me. With this, and the "energy-feeling" Vicki received along with the white flower visual, it was a symbol to Vicki of congratulations relating to something of a business nature, as opposed to a birth or a marriage which would likely be different colored flowers or a different energy-feeling that came with the flower symbol.

I suspected that the congratulations were related to the fact that my new book had been released a couple days prior, but there was no way I was going to give that information to Vicki. Without any hints from me, she eventually did figure out that not only was I having a book published, but also that I had originally self-published this book before a publisher picked it up. She also knew that the book was about a grueling time in my life that involved unfathomable suffering (the book is about my experience during a five-year chronic depression). Since Vicki can also sense the emotion the spirits are feeling, tears rolled down her face as my guides expressed their love and sorrow for me during that five-year struggle. I must confess that I was quite taken by Vicki's willingness to become so emotionally involved for my benefit.

There are several ways that spirits communicate with Vicki. The first is by allowing her to observe them visually. The second is simply through verbal communication. The only problem with this is that not everything comes through with clarity. It's like listening to an AM radio station with static. A third means of communication is through the use of symbolic messages where pictures or words are placed in Vicki's mind telepathically. The fourth way that Vicki receives messages from the spirit world is through sensations in her body. For instance, if a spirit wants Vicki to know that they died from pneumonia but they can't describe it verbally, Vicki might feel pressure in her lungs and a sensation of suffocation. If they want her to get the message of fear or love, they can cause her to feel either of those emotions or any emotion they need to convey.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. It's hard not to considering my one-hour reading lasted over three hours. Yes, that was interesting, because once the reading got rolling and I knew for sure that I was communicating with my deceased grandmother and father, I couldn't just say, "Sorry Vicki, sorry Dad, sorry Gram, but I really can't afford to talk anymore, so...see ya' later." Once the skepticism has been demolished with undeniable evidence, money really doesn't matter at a time like that. I had no choice. I had to keep going.

And keep going I did, as I mentioned, for three gut-wrenching hours. Vicki wasn't the only one with tears in her eyes that evening. I bathed in my own tears more than once. I cried when my father apologized through Vicki for what his alcoholism did to our family. I cried when my father told me that one of his proudest moments was watching me play a solo on my saxophone during the middle school band concert. I cried when my father told me to thank my mother for the lilacs she left on his grave (lilacs were his favorite flower). And I cried when my father described the scene at the hospital as he died from lung cancer.

The conversation transported me back to that vivid memory: my mother, my sister, Melissa and I surrounding my father's hospital bed and holding him tightly as the doctor removed the breathing tube. For ten minutes, but more like an eternity, we watched as he took his last few breaths. We listened as the monitors signaled his vital signs with an emotionless beeping that slowed in rhythm as his soul escaped the confines of his cancerous flesh. When my mother twice burst into a panicked wailing of tears at the realization that her life-long best friend was leaving her forever, the monitor's beeping escalated as if to say, "I'm sorry honey, I will try to stay for you a little longer." Upon realizing how difficult her crying was making it for him, my mother gained control of herself and the beeping slowed once again. Then she did this two more times, and my father attempted to hang on with each fit of tears. After my mother calmed down, my father’s face lost all color and then turned a grayish blue. His chest, previously the only evidence of life and movement, became motionless. And when that hidden source of energy, that which we call life, had obviously left his worn-out body, Mom hugged Dad one last time like she was never going to let him go. At the age of fifty-nine, my mother had become a lonely widow.

Hearing Vicki communicate my father's words to me was a gift beyond monetary value. My mouth was silent, but my eyes spoke chapters as tears of happiness and love journeyed from my heart to my cheeks. She relayed to me my own thoughts, the exact words of my prayers that my father had heard and was now repeating back to me. He even suggested an occasional frustration with me for not acknowledging his presence when I surely knew he was with me. To not weep, to not become wholeheartedly enveloped within my memories of him, I would have had to be dead myself. The experience was so much more than poignant; it was a moment engraved in time.

After two emotional hours, and in a moment of realization, I remembered Melissa was waiting in the car. Being that it was January in New England, the sun goes down by 4:30 p.m. and the frigid cold returns even on the sunniest of days. It was about 6:00 p.m. when I suddenly looked at my watch. Vicki must have been confused when, panic stricken, my eyes widened and I jumped from my seat.

"Oh my God, my wife is waiting in the car. Can I get her? Will this disrupt the reading? My father and grandmother won't go away will they?"

Vicki assured me that there would be no disruption, and she was immediately concerned about Melissa. To my surprise, I ran out to the car but it was empty. Confused, I went back into the house. When I saw one of Vicki's children, I asked if he had seen Melissa. Apparently, Vicki's husband, Bret, had kindly invited Melissa out of the cold car to join him and their four children in the warm house. Bret and Melissa were having a nice visit when I interrupted to have her join the reading. Melissa had no idea what she was about to experience.

Vicki and I quickly gave Melissa the Reader's Digest version of what had occurred so far in the reading. We told her who was present in the room and mentioned a few snippets of information that related specifically to her; for one, that my father had instructed me to thank her for the candles she lights every morning upon waking me up. He said he loved the "ambiance" of the candles. Then he joked, "Imagine me using a word like 'ambiance?'" It was true; my father had the look of a ruggedly handsome movie star but the vernacular of a truck driver. For him to use a word like ambiance would have sounded funny. We all laughed at my father's modesty. It was typical of his character to make fun of himself.

Secondly, my father wanted me to inform Melissa that he particularly likes the vanilla candles that she frequently burns. With that said, and within only moments of her arrival, Melissa had tears trickling down her cheeks and into the corners of her mouth. Either her protective wall of skepticism wasn't as rock-solid as my own, thereby not requiring an hour of unmitigated evidence to tear it down, or she trusted my assertion that Vicki's gift was real when I hurriedly explained the situation to her while leading her from Bret's company to the in-law apartment where Vicki waited. Regardless, Melissa was quick to understand that she was witnessing an event that would forever change both my life and her own. And she was understandably sentimental about our reunion with my father whom she had known since she was just twelve years old, when we first began dating.

After the third hour, which included additional messages from both Melissa's guides and my own, Vicki's energy was observably spent. Still, it was equally obvious that the reading was as gratifying for her as it was life-changing for us. No one wanted the night to end and we continued to talk for about an hour, mostly with Vicki enlightening us as we fired off the multitude of questions that had exploded in our thoughts during the reading. Eventually, it was time to go. It was eight o'clock on a Sunday night and Vicki's children had not eaten, although Bret saved the day by arriving with pizza as we said our goodbyes.

The two-hour ride home was unusually quiet as Melissa and I pondered the dreamlike events of the last few hours. Melissa broke the silence by admitting she was "feeling a little creeped-out," not sure she would ever feel comfortable again while getting undressed. "Who knows who might be watching?" she joked with a touch of concern in her voice. I assured her that any spirits around us would surely be polite enough not to look, and that issues of the flesh were not likely to have any effect on them in the spirit world anyway. I think my words comforted her, but now she had me thinking about it. As I continued to contemplate the reading, it was evident that this insightful milestone was triggering more questions than it had answered. And all the way home, and all during that sleepless night, my mind kept returning to one assertive thought: "This is the beginning to an incredible book!"

While I absorbed myself into a three-year investigation of psychic mediums, psychics and near-death experiences in order to write this book, and have, as a result, launched myself into an entirely new career, I must admit that I wondered if this book would ever be completed or if it was just a catalyst to send me on a new journey. What I discovered, due to my newfound insight, was that the journey is far more important than the destination itself. But I’m really happy that I did finally finish this book.

With that said, I should emphasize that this book is not really about psychic mediums; it is about opening our minds to the possibilities. Just the fact that we are in human form and not spirit form sets us up to be ignorant in our knowledge of how the Universe works. I use the word "ignorant" to mean "having a lack of insight," not with the negative connotation that so many people use it these days. And due to our inherent ignorance, we must look beyond what is obvious to us, obvious when using our limited five senses, to understand alternative ways for achieving health, happiness and abundance during our lifetime.

For myself, it required a psychic medium to teach me how narrow-minded I was and to guide me toward a path of greater enlightenment. I'm still ignorant in so many ways, but I'd like to believe I'm a little more enlightened just by the fact that I'm seeking my truth and not letting others dictate it for me. Understand, however, that a psychic medium is just one vehicle. There are many others. For you, it could be astrology, numerology, yoga, dance, dowsing, meditation, astral projection, hypnotic regression, dreamwork, breathwork or religion. The possible vehicles are endless. The results are all very similar: they lead us on a journey toward increased enlightenment.

We do not all need a psychic medium in our lives. And we certainly should not grow dependent on one. Yet, if my story intrigues you in the least, I recommend the experience, especially if you're a skeptic. If there is one lesson I've learned in the last three years studying psychic mediums, it is that people do not become "believers" from hearing another person's story. Rather, we grow to become "knowers" from our own personal experiences.  

BOB OLSON is a former private investigator and skeptic who began using his investigation skills to research psychics, psychic mediums and the afterlife in 1999. This research led him to establish www. Magazine (2000), (2011), www. (2001) and www., three of the most trusted and influential sources for understanding and locating trustworthy psychics and psychic mediums.

Today Bob Olson has tested hundreds of psychics and psychic mediums around the world and has become a leading authority on the subject with TV, movie and documentary producers, journalists, book publishers, event promoters, as well as law enforcement agencies and private investigators. Bob’s achievements in psychic and psychic medium investigation and testing has further allowed him to evaluate and isolate the key components that set apart the best psychic medium readings from the mediocre—leading him to create his famous (although secret) 15-point test.

Bob has documented his findings in a multitude of articles. He has authored the Forewords for three books: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Communicating With Spirits, Consult Your Inner Psychic and The Complete Idiot's Guide To Divining The Future. Bob has also been quoted as an expert in How To Get A Good Reading By A Psychic Medium and Empowering Your Life With Angels.