*Some names have been changed to protect privacy.
“Who’s Anne?” “My sister,” Rene responded.
The query came from psychic medium Deanna Fitzpatrick, who Rene was meeting for the first time. She hoped to connect with her father, who died of cancer when she was 16, and her mother, who’d passed away 10 years earlier. Rene wanted to know if her parents were OK and for them to know she was, too. But her mother Louise, who immediately made her presence known, was attuned to anger her daughter was harboring toward her older sister.
“Your mother wants you to release the pain Anne has caused you and move on,” Fitzpatrick told her.
Rene, now credulous, tried to conceal her astonishment.
Fitzpatrick then saw a man sitting with Louise, a fatherly figure with a strong presence. But neither the physical description nor the uniform he wore nor briefcase he carried matched that of her father, Isaac.
“Who is Tom?” Fitzpatrick asked next.
Rene thought carefully. She didn’t know any Tom.
At the back of the room, a second, more reserved man appeared. As he watched over Louise and Tom, Fitzpatrick and Rene sought deeper clues.
None identified either man.
“It didn’t make any sense,” Rene recalls.
The man with Louise was supposed to be her father, but he wasn’t. And she couldn’t understand why this other man was so interested in her. As she grew frustrated, so did the three souls, Fitzpatrick told her. “They really felt I should know who Tom was,” Rene says.
“They’re now showing me a gun,” Fitzpatrick had said.
To Rene, this didn’t click. Although Isaac had been an avid sportsman and gun owner, the description of the man in uniform otherwise sounded nothing like him.
As she began to doubt Fitzpatrick, new spirits emerged to offer the medium more convincing evidence to hold her confidence. But ultimately, she left without any answers.
Driving home, Rene felt duped. What a waste of money, she’d thought. Suddenly it hit her. Her knuckles whitened around the wheel: “Smitty!”
Tom “Smitty” Smith had been a close family friend when Rene was a child. A state trooper who later became sheriff and then mayor of their small town, he’d met Isaac through a shared hobby—collecting guns—and bonded with Louise over other mutual interests. While Rene and her father called Tom “Smitty,” Louise called him by his first name.
“Oh, my God—how did I miss it?” Rene shouted as old memories—revelations—rushed forth like tidal waves: The way Smitty had picked her up as a little girl, admiringly, and told her how beautiful she was. How her eyes were the exact same shape and shade of blue-green as his. His curious interest in Rene’s education and how he’d encouraged Louise and Isaac to send her to private school. How they’d been able to afford it despite not being able to afford it. How her two older siblings sometimes lashed out at her and said she wasn’t their real sister.
Then there was Louise: “She was always pointing out ways Dad and I resembled each other,” Rene remembers. “But we didn’t share any similarities.” When Rene was a teenager, Louise discouraged her from becoming romantically interested in Smitty’s son, Tommy.
“She’d tell me, ‘Oh, Rene, he’s trouble’… but he wasn’t,” Rene says of her childhood friend, who was the same age. As a young adult, she attended Smitty’s funeral with her mother, who insisted they sit in the front row. “It was uncomfortable,” Rene says, reflecting on how distraught Louise was over his death.
Within minutes, Rene realized what should have been obvious all along: Smitty was her biological father. They both loved her and wanted her to know.
Fitzpatrick’s reputation has attracted a following so vast that getting a reading with her typically takes about six months. But the Middletown medium never set out to communicate with what she calls “spirit.”
“Most of my friends who are mediums had experiences as a child. I don’t remember having that,” she says. Thoughts or visions she did have she chalked up to keen intuition.
Once, while watching a popular morning show where a woman reported she had been carjacked with her children inside, Fitzpatrick told her husband, “Those kids are dead. …They’re in water.” The next day, the mother admitted to driving her children into a pond.
When she was a new mother, a lamp in her daughter’s room began to glow. Her husband inspected the electrical wiring. Then they plugged the lamp into a different outlet. Still, it glowed. Fitzpatrick was so “freaked out” that she left the room to change her baby. “Then the hallway light flickered,” she recalls. “I ordered the spirit, or whatever it was, to go away.” (Reflecting back, she thinks it was a sign from her grandfather.)
But it wouldn’t be until years later, after seeing a hypnotherapist for health improvement, that she’d be jolted out of a successful career at MBNA and into mediumship—a pivot that now seems serendipitous.
“The next day, I started seeing spirit at work. I was sitting with a co-worker and suddenly saw a man behind her,” Fitzpatrick recollects. “As I described him, my co-worker said, ‘That’s my dad. He died when I was 13.’
“I had never been to a medium,” Fitzpatrick says. “I didn’t know what this was.” But as her visions persisted, and her subjects validated them, she began taking classes—including one in Lily Dale, New York, a hamlet connected to the Spiritualist movement—to cultivate her abilities. At first, Fitzpatrick hesitated to leave her lucrative job. “I was not a woo-woo person until this happened to me,” she laughs.
She learned how to read for a crowd, which led to stage work in addition to personal readings. “This is where my soul is happiest,” she says. “I don’t know why, but I’m funnier onstage.”
Fitzpatrick, now a teacher herself, describes mediums as a “channel” through which spirits communicate to those they’ve left behind. “I raise my vibration, spirit lowers theirs, and we meet in the middle,” she explains. “A client once quipped, ‘So that’s why you’re called a medium.’”
She interprets spirits’ messages through sight, sound, feeling and just knowing. “For example, they might have me feel pressure in an area of my body to understand specific health issues or how they passed, or I might see a family tree,” Fitzpatrick says. The messages they relay through her are like puzzle pieces for the sitter to fit together. Oftentimes the living—like Rene—won’t immediately understand them.
While clients are welcome to ask their own questions, Fitzpatrick only seeks information that’s helpful. What makes her work so fulfilling is witnessing the healing that spirit offers, she says. “Often, they apologize for behaviors that caused pain and offer understanding for the living. Because they continue to learn and grow on the other side.”
At home, Rene dug up old photos of her parents and their friends the Smiths. Among them was a picture of Smitty at a backyard barbecue, Louise’s arms wrapped warmly around his neck. “I also noticed for the first time how alike Tommy and I looked…like siblings,” she says.
Rene found her old friend on Facebook—they’d lost touch years earlier—and the two made plans to meet. She was summoning the courage to ask for a DNA test, but then Tommy died of COVID-19.
While Rene says she’ll always regard Isaac, the man who raised her, as her father, she’s grateful to have had both men in her life. And she’s eager for concrete evidence.
She knew Smitty had divorced his first wife and remarried, and that the couple had two sons. Rene recently found them on Facebook. She’s mustering the courage to connect with her half-brothers.
Deanna Fitzpatrick also offers psychic readings. For more information, visit deannafitzpatrick.com.