My big wake up call began in the summer of 2014, when I helped a lost pigeon find his way home.
After the pigeon left, I found myself planning a trip to Terlizzi, a small southern Italian town that was home to my long lost relatives. There I would meet the cousins my nana, Angela Gesmundo, had longed to meet her entire life. The trip would be in her honor, and guided from across the veil.
On July 17, 2015, my parents, one of my sons, Thomas, and I left Boston’s Logan International Airport and headed off to Italy. Our first stop was Rome as we had a connecting flight to Bari, where our cousins were scheduled to pick us up. When we arrived in Rome to catch our connecting flight, we soon learned the flight was overbooked. We all managed to get on but the strange part was the seat across from Thomas was empty! We all laughed, as we realized nana had indeed joined us for the trip!
When we finally made it to Bari, our cousins greeted us at the airport. They excitedly welcomed us with open arms; along with Paul Cappelli, who owns and operates the magnificent villa where we stayed in Terlizzi. http://www.vcvillarental.com/
I soon learned that Paul had grown up in Boston, Massachusetts, just minutes from where I grew up. We also share the family names of Gesmundo and DeBartolo. What was even more incredible was that during my stay, his aunt Maria just happened to be visiting from Boston. After conversing we realized we live only a few miles from each other!
While in Terlizzi, my personal journey continued. Each day was a new adventure in heightened awareness. Each morning, I would inspirationally journal. This was something I had started doing in an effort to understand myself, and feel more connected. While journaling, it felt as if I was taking dictation from my soul. I would write things that I would later realize were wisdom thoughts regarding the day or relating to some part of the future. Each day in Italy we had no idea where or what we were doing. I had planned it this way in order to surrender to the experience. Since the cousins were in Rome until Thursday, we were left to explore southern Italy with the incredible guidance of Paul Cappelli. Each day brought a new adventure. We explored picturesque towns, ate incredible food and met fantastic people. We had a blast.
The morning of July 23, 2015, was the Thursday that we were to meet the family. I began my day journaling as I had each morning. Some of the comments from Thursday were, “the clouds today have much to say”, “seeing is believing” and “owls”.
This particular day was extra exciting because I was going to meet my cousins, whom up to this point, I had only met briefly at the airport. We had decided to get together later in the day, and visit the family mausoleum. This may have sounded like a daunting idea, but not to me. I knew my nana had always wanted to see the family mausoleum. She had seen many photos of the mausoleum when her brother visited Terlizzi just before her death. Through tears, she had expressed how sad she was that she would never see any of it, due to her cancer.
A few minutes before the cousins’ arrival, the sky expanded into beautiful shades of yellow and orange. Then suddenly the clouds opened up, allowing streams of sunrays to pour down from the sky. I took several photos and videos. All I kept thinking about was my journal, “the clouds today have much to say.”
Next we drove to the cemetery to see the mausoleum. When we started walking through the cemetery the air felt thick and heavy. Then suddenly I heard, “whoo whoo”, the sound of owls! Again, I thought of my journal, “owls”. I asked my cousin what the sound was, and she replied, “owls.”
Now I was all excited and my awareness was on high alert. Next up on my morning journal was, “seeing is believing”. I looked deeply at all my surroundings, wondering and watching as to what was going to happen next.
We stopped in front of the family mausoleum and I took several photos. To my surprise, we did not see anything out of the ordinary. However, there was a brilliant white light that blocked out the family name, Gesmundo on the mausoleum. This frustrated me because I could not read the name, all that I could see was “FAMIGLIA ???DO”. After several attempts to capture the mausoleum with the family name, I gave in to the distraction, realizing the light would have to do.
After we visited a few more areas of the cemetery, we got back in the car and went back to the villa to prepare dinner.
Although my journal had indicated I should have witnessed something spectacular, and did not, my heart was still full. I was in Italy, I was with my cousins, and I was able to see all the places my nana had wanted to see. I had fulfilled her wish.
When I returned home from Italy, I was excited to share my pigeon essay with my family and friends and the podcast that I was on with Paul Cappelli. Paul had interviewed me about my quest to find my cousins on his podcast.
Here is a link to the podcast PODCAST FINDING FAMILY CLICK HERE
Here is a link to the pigeon essay PIGEON ESSAY CLICK HERE
This is where things began to get really interesting.
Before I had left for Italy, I had done a lot of research into the history of my Italian heritage in order to find my cousins. The book that validated my cousins in Italy was found by searching, of all places, Amazon! Incredibly a genealogist had already researched my great grandfather’s lineage. The book was, “Italians in Transition, The Vallarelli Family of Terlizzi, Italy, and Wetchester County, New York and The DeBartolo Famiy of Terlizzi, Italy, New York, and San Francisco, California,” written by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack.
This was an exceptionally researched book about the history of Southern Italy as well as generations of research on my family tree of DeBartolo! My great grandfather, Giuseppe Gesmundo, was in the book because his mother was a DeBartolo! I now had validation of whom I was visiting in Terlizzi! I had no need to do any research while vacationing because it was already done! I also realized that my great grandfather’s birthday had a typo. This gave me a reason to email Sharon, introduce myself and clarify my great grandfather’s birthdate. Soon after, we became fast email friends.
When I returned from Italy, Sharon was one of the first people I wanted to share my pigeon essay with, so I emailed her right away. This was her response:
“… given the ending of your essay, you may be interested in my newest venture: www.PathwaysUp.com. After more than 25 years of talking to the dead, they're starting to talk back.”
I sat there with my jaw dropped to the floor. Not only were we fourth cousins, but we were also on the exact same spiritual path- unfolding as mediums! Not exactly a common path!
Immediately we decided Sharon would do a reading on me and see if Nana would come through. Nana came through loud and clear, with a very specific message, ”Review your images from Italy, you missed it.”
I excitedly began reviewing over 1,000 images. When I opened up the image of the family mausoleum, I felt there was more to see. I began examining the image closely when all the smoke detectors in my house went off! Suddenly in the midst of the chaos, I realized why I could not read the family name Gesmundo! The light was not just any light; it clearly depicted an image of a lady with her hands crossed at her heart, almost appearing to hold the real flowers on the mausoleum! My first agenda was to email the image to my cousin Sharon to see what she thought and she quickly agreed.
When I took another look at the image I realized there were a few more layers to the message. Messages have much more to say than just the obvious. It is in the subtleties where the layers of the message are revealed.
Here is what I realized-
The lady in light resembles my Nana's wedding picture. (see photo above)
The year 1990 is highlighted in the image, and 1990 is the year my Nana died.
In Italian, the mausoleum reads, "PER LEI TANTA LUCE NEL CIELO", which in English translates to "FOR HER LOTS OF LIGHT IN THE SKY"
Her hands are crossed at her heart, which to me symbolizes how the heart is the gateway to spirit.
What exactly is awareness? According to Merriam-Webster, the online definition of awareness is:
“the quality or state of being aware : knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists: promoting a heightened awareness of the problem: seemed to have only a slight awareness of what was going on :an acute awareness of subtle differences.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awareness
“An acute awareness of subtle differences”, is a powerful statement, especially when we are looking through the lens of Spirit. For it is in the subtleness of awareness that we can find the greatest gifts from Spirit. How can this be? How do we find the brilliance of Spirit in the subtleties? When there is nothing to see, there is much to know; and where there is much to see the least is known. Spirit is found in the subtleties, the moments between moments. Those are the times when we get that shiver of truth, or as I call them ‘truth bumps’. Abraham Lincoln said it best, “To believe in the things you can see and touch is no belief at all; but to believe in the unseen is a triumph and a blessing.”
When I walked around the cemetery in Italy, I was seeing to believe and saw nothing. It wasn’t until I believed I could see, that the unknown was seen.
Sharon continues to be a beacon of light in my daily walk with Spirit. We continue to help each other along our paths. She is an incredible gift of guidance from Spirit. Besides being a fourth cousin, she has been one of my greatest teachers, and a very dear friend.
I am forever grateful for following my heart and surrendering to the path that unfolded. The truth is the only way I could have had so many profound synchronicities of:
Finding lost relatives
Finding a 4th cousin on a parallel journey who has become a mentor
Finding a villa in Terlizzi , owned and operated by a possible distant cousin who grew up in Boston
Finding a villa with a visiting aunt who lives around the corner from me in America
Seeing the lady in light
…was accomplished by trusting and surrendering to the divine timing and guidance of Spirit.
My hope is that this image inspires you believe in the unseen and to challenge yourself to go beyond your known. May you also come to know the power of surrender and trusting in your faith journey!
peace and love, Elizabeth Coughlin