Tuesday, September 8, 2015

“Evidence of Other Realms”: A Review of The Man at the Foot of the Bed, by Josette L. Berardi

(Foreword, Elizabeth Tucker) (2011) ISBN: 978-1-4560-7551-4
A few weeks ago I published my review of Josette Berardi’s I’m Not Dead, Am I? Although that book came out a year after this one, I chose to read it first because the scope was larger, discussing the paranormal experiences of her family, especially her daughter, in the context of her mother’s severe illness and hospitalization.
 The Man at the Foot of the Bed is a much different book, with an appropriately less intimate and passionate voice, which operates on two levels: the first is as a memoir of her daughter Nicole’s experiences, from a toddler to her late teens, as a medium who can communicate with the deceased and who has had encounters with other, darker, entities. The second is as a primer and resource guide for parents and others who have a young person with mediumistic gifts in their life and those interested in obtaining a reading from a medium.
Berardi opens with the following: “This book is dedicated to all ‘Mystical Children’ who grew up without acceptance.” By the end of the book one has to wonder how many children’s natural abilities have been stifled and ultimately faded away with dis-use and initiation into the “reality” of mainstream society, and how that has worked against our understanding of other realms while limiting the true potential of these children.
The idea of mediumship, the ability to act as a mediator between the realms of the living and the dead, is as popular as it is controversial. Television dramas like Medium and Ghost Whisperer enjoyed long runs and loyal viewers; real-life mediums such as John Edward, James van Praagh, and Theresa Caputo (the “Long Island Medium”) have had a great deal of success with their books and television programs, and many people are fascinated with “reality” shows that involve the paranormal, of which mediumship is an often-present element.
Of course, for every person that allows for the possibility of such things, there are many more who do not believe, who dismiss such people and programs as pure entertainment and akin to magicians, and, in some instances, actively seek to debunk them. In fairness to those people, going back to the séances of the late 1800s there have been plenty of con-artists and unscrupulous opportunists who have used people’s grief as a means to make a dollar.
No matter your starting position on the subject, you will find value in The Man at the Foot of the Bed. The opening chapters provide some history of the family, all of which provide a larger context and make Nicole and her mother take form in our minds as real people who also happen to have the gift of experiencing extraordinary things. A dozen or so photographs included in the book help as well.
In the third chapter, we learn a bit about Stephanie, Nicole’s younger sister, who also shares the gift, and we get to know Nicole, who displayed hints as to her mediumistic abilities as early as eighteen months, when she “developed a French accent to her baby babble” (60) while the family was on vacation in New Orleans—an historic hot-spot for the spiritual and paranormal. The accent lasted a few weeks after their return.
As Nicole grew up, she encountered several different entities, which she named like many children do their imaginary friends: The Guys on the Ceiling, Spike (a deceased bulldog), The Indians in the Woods, and the dark, abusive entity for whom the book is named. She may have also been contacted by baseball great Babe Ruth. Berardi relates the encounter in a neutral narrative and leaves it up to the reader to decide.
The Man at the Foot of the Bed is an unsettling figure: a mischievous bully who would visit Nicole and show her dark visions in a hospital and who disappeared as mysteriously as he first showed up.
Berardi should be given no small amount of credit for the way she guided both Nicole and Stephanie in the development of their gifts, rather than dismissing their experiences as overactive imaginations, as many parents do. This is where the family context comes into play, with both Berardi’s mother and grandmother having experiences with the dead.
Nicole was trained in her teens at Lily Dale in New York, which is a prestigious community for mediums, and has since done hundreds of readings (in a way similar to what I have read and seen of John Edward), done house clearings, and appeared on the television show Discovery Paranormal. 
The bulk of the book is comprised of anecdotes from Josette and Nicole’s experiences (Gettysburg, PA and Point Pleasant, WV are highlights), and resources for those interested in mediumship (such as the chapter “How to Get the Best Out of a Reading with a Medium”) or who have a child that may have the gift. There is also a paranormal glossary for those new to the subject.
Perhaps the best compliment I can pay to Berardi is that she tells her family’s story without trying to convince the reader of the veracity of her experiences, or those of her daughters and extended family. She relates times that she herself doubted, or was frightened by or wanted to dis-engage from what was happening.
Whether or not you believe, The Man at the Foot of the Bed is a well-written, fascinating story of one family’s experiences with the paranormal.
You can find out more by visiting discoveryparanormal.com and psychicmediumnikkirose.com, and you can order The Man at the Foot of the Bed and I’m Not Dead, Am I? at Amazon.com.



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