Always a story waiting to be told

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On the side of the road. 8:00 PM. Photo: JH.

Thursday, January 7, 2021. Winter weather in New York, yesterday in the mid-40s down to the low 30s. Sunny but not bright.

I’ve been in a detached mood of late. I blame it on the whole magillah, the vibe. It is also related to lack of social intercourse.  And, the fact that the town is still closed down. And fear of one kind or another, is everywhere. So that’s my excuse.

Nevertheless it is all very interesting. My friend Dezia Restivo died last week. Dezia had been unwell for quite some time (years) and briefly hospitalized more than once. I’m not sure of her age although she was obviously older than I.  She may have been 90. An Englishwoman by birth, she had a long life in America, with family, her daughter. She had a charming personality of curiosity and interest. Professionally she was a psychic. That’s how I came to know her.

Numerologist Dezia Restivo.

It was in 1978 and I was about to move to Los Angeles and pursue my professional life there in the land of Make Believe (and get a good agent). Two friends of mine gave me as a farewell gift, a “reading” by Dezia.

Already enthusiastic about this “move,” I was – entirely, even naively optimistic about the change, so I was naturally curious. It was an early August day. The appointment was at her apartment on the East Side. I am very tall compared to Dezia who seemed half my height to me. Blonde, hospitable but preoccupied; friendly but anxious to get settled down so she could do her thing.

She asked for my birthdate, and my name. She knew that I was making this move, and asked if I had a middle name. I did, I told her; Patrick; but I really didn’t like it and my mother hated it so I never used it. “Use it, she said. “At least on your checks.” I was in an adventurous state of mind and did as she suggested. It turned out to be a wise move.

Then she started with the cards: A deck which she gave me to shuffle and then pick six cards.  She’d pick them up with both hands, spread them out before her almost to her nose; and look, as if she were reading. Then she’d talk, maybe ask if you knew a blonde blue-eyed lady who is feeling very sad? Hmm? No.  Then she’d take the cards and start the process again with more cards, a wider fan before her eyes.  She’d talk to me as if she were seeing something in the cards.

She knew I was moving to Los Angeles when she said, looking at the cards: “You’re going to meet a royal woman who wears rose colored glasses and has houses on three oceans.”  Frankly, it sounded hokey right away. A royal woman in L.A.? and three oceans. Funny.

Lady Sarah Churchill, the “royal lady who wears rose-colored glasses and has houses on three oceans.” This photo was taken about a year before Sarah died.

The reading ran for about an hour. She’d often describe a person in some way related to me by his/her color, height, age. I remember very little of that first visit except for the royal lady with three ocean views.

It came to pass, about six months after my “reading” with Dezia, I was then living in Los Angeles when one night a friend invited me to join him at a cocktail reception of a woman named Lady Sarah Spencer-Churchill who had a house on Lloydcrest Drive in Beverly Hills. Most memorable was meeting the hostess, a tall and naturally imposing woman, gracious and quick to laugh, with an almost jolly charm. And wearing rose-colored glasses. Coincidentally, as I came to know her, I learned she also had houses overlooking the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Peloponnese.

It came to pass that Sarah became a very important person and experience in my life. She was a gift to me at that moment. She died in exploratory surgery at 78. Hers was a life rich with circumstances, people, pleasure and learning. She had what I think of as a world-class personality, a rara avis  for this sight-seer.

I never saw Dezia after that reading until the early  ‘90s when I came back to New York. She was writing a “predictions” column monthly in Heather Cohane’s Quest magazine. After that I’d visit her from time to time and she’d inevitably give me a reading. I don’t recall much of any of them. What interested me was her perceptions of situations and of people. And we’d have a good laugh, often on the same page.

She had some very famous “clients,” one of whom consulted her almost hourly (no kidding) for quite sometime until it was beginning to drive someone nuts.

In a way she was a writer with her cards that she’d hold so close, fanned out covering most of her face, and talking, as if she were reading off the cards. She still had a lot of the British in her accent although it was purely American in sensibility. She was an energetic woman, bursting with energy whenever she needed it. She loved cats; she always had a cat. And a deck of cards on a  table nearby. “… A royal woman with houses on three oceans … who wears rose-colored glasses …”  Right there is a story waiting to be told; Dezia.

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