Nana's Playing Cards

When I was growing up, my mom’s mother would come and stay with us once in a while over the summer. She’d had my mother very young and her husband had run off, and an older woman in the apartment building they lived in kind of took her under her wing, and taught her how to read regular playing cards, known as cartomancy. So, when she came to stay with us, we would sit around the dining room table on a summer’s evening and nana would take out the cards and she would tell you what to do with them, “Shuffle them,” “Take six cards,” “Place them like this,” and so on.

Being Catholic, she felt conflicted when her friends started coming back to her saying that her predictions were really happening. She ended up seeking a Priest’s guidance to make sure it was okay. The Priest said, “as long as you never read your own cards, never take money, and don’t tell people the bad stuff, you should be fine.”

She was doing my reading once, and I see her getting all these black cards coming up and she’s just pushing them aside. I start to get very nervous, because I know the black cards represent death. And all I can think is “Oh, boy.” So finally, I said to her, “is there anything you can tell me nana? This is getting frightening.” And she looked at me and she looked at the cards and she said, “well, it really isn’t anything personal, so I’ll tell you.”

 “I’m seeing the number two; it could be two days, two weeks, two months, so this is going to happen in the future. Now I see a young couple, I see a young man and a young woman, and they both die suddenly. It has something to do with being on the water, on a boat, I’m not quite sure. And it’s all so very confusing because a third man, a third person dies too, an older man. I see something about his heart, so I don’t know, does he have a heart attack? There is a lot of mystery around it, around what happens. But you’re going to hear about this story, because it’s going to shock and upset a lot of people.” And to be honest, I kind of forgot about it for a while.

But sure enough, two weeks later, the newspaper reported a terrible boating accident off of Shelter Island. A young couple had gotten into the family sailboat in a very sheltered harbor and were taking it out by motor to get it into the bay. The tide was higher than usual because of the full moon, and their mast hit a wire hanging over a little outlet area. The family, who was watching from the shore, had no idea what had happened, and just saw the couple collapse, right before the boat burst into flames. The family freaked out, called their names to no response; and the father jumped in and swam out to see what happened. His wife saw him grab the side of the boat and then immediately fall backwards, back into the water.

Horrified, she called 911, and when they came, they discovered the water was boiling. It turned out the power line they had hit was a high voltage power line, that had never been designated as such. The coroner’s report showed the young couple was electrocuted, and the father died of a heart attack trying to save them. It was a horrific accident, made almost more so because my nana foresaw the whole thing.

This was transcribed from a recorded conversation with my mother. Here is the link to the New York Times archived article reporting the incident. Rest in Peace to Michael Conway, Mary Barry, and George Conway.

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