Article from the 3/4/2016 Catalina Islander

Since I became "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet the cruise ships and cross channel boats, I have answered 43,916 questions.
These are some of the more interesting/unusual questions/comments I have answered:
"Where are all of the pretty girls?"
"Where are all of the cute guys?"  (Of course, these two questions came a week apart so they never caught up with each other!)
"Where on the Island is Charles Lindberg buried?" (Not on Catalina!)
"Do you sell buffalo teeth"
"How many sides does the Island have?"


Since starting this column last year, I have tried to be both educational as well as entertaining.  I have been told that some of my stories have made readers  laugh and/or cry.  I am now taking God's direction and taking aim at our very souls!  I know that there are those of you whose lives will be changed/saved by this  This will undoubtedly be the hardest to write yet most important column I will ever write!
When I started doing the "Ghost Tours" last month, I was a bit ambivalent to say the least!  How can I talk about a subject that is "unearthly" and strange, and yet trying to keep it from becoming a cheap thrill experience.  "USA News" has named it one of the top 10 Ghost Tours in the entire United States so I realized that I was on good footing, but I still had to make it personal.  I have had a number of "encounters" and shared stories from others who have personally verified them as true. Many of them are written in books available at many of our local stores, but one story I shared is SO personal that it has NEVER been recorded and very rarely told. This story will NEVER be shared in written form until the death of my 90 year old mother, who resides in a nursing home in Sacramento (although Mom subscribes to the "Islander", my sister has promised to guarantee that this particular column will NEVER be seen by her).
On January 21 1974, at the age of 26, I was teaching "Communication" at Indiana University, Bloomington.  Around midnight I received one of those calls that we all dread!  My father had called from the Avalon hospital!  My younger brother, Bill, 24, had committed suicide that evening at our Descanso St. home in Avalon!!!!!  Dad wanted me home ASAP!  The doctor then got on the phone to tell me that he was going to put my 71 year old father under heavy sedation.  He had found the body and they were afraid that he might do something drastic, even suicide!  They wanted me at the hospital BEFORE Dad woke up!
I got off the phone and just laid in bed crying  trying to piece together what just happened. I had to get home to a OVERWHELMINGLY emotional situation while needing to guarantee that my students were able to have a suitable substitute for an indefinite period of time!  TOO MUCH TO DO and my grieving would have to be put on hold.
I was laying in bed, alright, but certainly NOT asleep!  Who could sleep with this on their mind!?!  I was living in a basement apartment of a six story building. Not many came down my way.  Suddenly I heard the chain security latch giggling.  Was someone trying to get into my apartment!?!  As my work area was small, I laid out all of my students' papers on the living room floor.  Suddenly, I heard the papers rustling as if someone was walking across them!  SOMEONE WAS INSIDE MY APARTMENT!!!  Bad enough my brother had killed himself, NOW I was being broken into!  WHAT A NIGHT!!!!
With only my blanket to protect me, I waited to see who was going to come through my open bedroom door.  I didn't have to wait long!  In came a white fog, sort of like a mist, that quickly settled to the floor, at the foot of my bed. A moment or so passed when up came a large white orb, about twice the size of softball.  Suddenly, I heard Bill's voice.  "If I knew then what I know now, I never would have killed myself!  Chuck, I have a commission for you. You MUST make others aware of the fact that they have to let others know how much they are loved!!" As quickly as it appeared, it left.  (For years, I had a large banner placed in my office which read, "YOU MUST LET OTHERS KNOW HOW MUCH THEY ARE LOVED!").  I obviously shared this appearance with NO ONE!  I was beginning to question my sanity!!
That morning I took the first available flight from Indianapolis to LAX, was picked up by a former professor, rushed to Fullerton to be with my Mother (my parents were divorced when I was 4, 1951) and you can ONLY IMAGINE the condition that my Mother was in!  Losing a child is so WRONG and undescribable that I don't think that there is a word for it!  I tried my best to calm Mom down, but couldn't stay long as I had to rush to Catalina and Dad's side.
I was rushed to Long Beach, caught the boat, was met by a paramedic, and taken to the hospital.  When I got to Dad, he was still sedated.  As I sat waiting for him to come around, I noticed a small piece of paper on his bed side table.  It showed a straight, horizontal line with a squiggle leading up to a large circular form with what looked like a crude face inside.  When Dad came around we had our moments of crying, hugging, etc. When things calmed down, I showed him the drawing and asked him what it meant. He told me I wouldn't believe him, but I asked him for an explanation anyway.  "Right after I called you last night and before they sedated me, I saw this white ball circle from the foot of my bed and stop near the ceiling.  It had your brother's face in it and his voice said, 'Dad, I'm not in pain anymore!'"  Bill, or whatever it was, came to Dad and me, 2500 miles apart, at exactly the same moment and exactly in the same form, with personal messages that we both needed to hear!!!!  It has been 42 years and it STILL HURTS as if it happened yesterday!
 Now I don't want to get into a discussion with my fellow Christian friends about ghosts and suicide.  I am just reporting what two witnesses experienced and those words that I was charged with, "YOU MUST LET OTHERS KNOW HOW MUCH THEY ARE LOVED!", in hopes that it might give the hope to those who see no reason to live!!!
Since then, God has sent to me young people, most of them mere teenagers and complete strangers, to share with me their decisions to take their own lives!!!  WHY ME!?!  God knows why!  Who better to share with than a much older stranger, who unbeknownist to them had been through the other side of the suicide coin.  Each time God gave me the right words to cause them to reconsider.  In each case they NEVER thought of the affect that their devastating act would have on their family and friends. These young souls NEVER wanted to hurt anyone, they just didn't hear those ultimate magic healing and encouraging words, "I LOVE YOU" enough times to believe it and to ease their hurting!
Of course, suicide doesn't occur "ONLY ON CATALINA", which is why I am trying to reach out to as many people as I can!  I am especially trying to tell the ones that this column was directed to, that they ARE LOVED, God LOVES THEM, and that is why He has "commissioned" me to write this, as painful as it has been!  Whether or not you believe the story relating to my brother's suicide, the need and commission is still the same!  "YOU MUST LET OTHERS KNOW HOW MUCH THEY ARE LOVED!"  Don't go to bed a single night without saying, texting, phoning, writing this at least ONCE EVERY DAY!  Someone in your world might very well need to hear those words NOW and OFTEN to help to decide between life or death!  They know I love them, I don't have to come right out and say it! Don't take a chance!  DO IT NOW!