Lessons Learned from My Psychic Mother-in-Law

Tracy Stengel


Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

When I turned sixteen, along with my girlfriends, we found out about a psychic named Rose who lived twenty minutes away in the Jackson, Michigan area. Giggling and excited, we booked our appointments and soon were clamoring around the woman’s kitchen table begging for answers.

How old will I be when I marry?

How many kids will I have?

Am I going to be rich?

“Slow down!” Rose advised. “This reading focuses on the next six months. Maybe spans to a year or two.”

We eagerly watched the tarot cards flip for each other and ourselves.

It was all in good fun — teenagers wasting our hard-earned money made from part-time jobs on questionable entertainment. Right? Maybe not.

Her words amazed me

When my turn came, I slid into the seat across from Rose, flanked by my two besties. I had heard her predictions for them and hoped she would say good things were ahead for me as well.

As Rose shuffled the cards and eyed me, I felt like she was looking through me. I lowered my eyes, embarrassed. It was as if I were sitting in her kitchen stark naked.

At her direction, I picked a card, cut the deck, and handed them back to her. Something prickly landed on my neck. When I tried to snatch it, it was gone.

Rose made a production of laying out the cards in a intricate pattern.

Mesmerized, I saw colorful pictures of queens, kings, and princes. There were others of serene goddesses pouring water into a stream and scary ones like the man hanging from a noose. Yikes!

I had to breathe a bit before I could level my eyes with hers.

“Do you want to talk about Rick now or later?” Rose asked, casual-like. She had a hint of a smile.

My eyebrows hit my hairline and my jaw probably banged on my knees.

She hadn’t been so specific with the other girls.

How could she know?

My girlfriends started chittering. “Who is Rick?”

My cheeks burned.

“Later!” I said. “Please, later!” My T-shirt clung to the newly formed sweat coating my skin.

I knew I needed to make another appointment with her — privately.

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Rose didn’t know everything

A man came through the door. He had to have been almost thirty-years-old. “Oops! Sorry, Mom! I didn’t know you had clients.”

She waved her hands and apologized. “Girls, this is my son, David.”

We shot him shy smiles and curious glances.

He breezed through the kitchen and I heard him plop down on the couch in the adjoining living room. There was a rustle of papers.

Little did I, or my psychic, know a decade later, he would become my husband and she would be my mother-in-law.

Once Rose was my MIL, she was no longer my psychic

After my first visit to her, I came back every year or so. Sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends. She fascinated me.

After I married her son, I no longer asked her to read my cards. Can you blame me? Ha! Besides, my husband was psychic too, although he didn’t make a living out of it. I’m not going to explain why the marriage didn’t work except to say my mother-in-law was psychic and so was my husband. Nuff said!

But I loved them dearly, along with the extended family of sisters, nieces and nephews. Plus, I had two adult step-children! And one of them had a keen psychic ability as well.

Living amongst them was otherworldly to me. My Catholic upbringing in a rural, small town didn’t expose me to a whole lot of diversity.

Rose’s husband was a ghost

Way before I came onto the scene, Rose was a young mother with four children. While the kids were playing in the yard in their corner lot flanked by corn and soybean fields, their dad turned left onto their road, headed home after a long day at work. He was hit head-on by a firetruck and died instantly … less than one hundred yards from his driveway. The kids saw it all.

The father’s soul never left. He watched over the family and insisted he wasn’t going to “move on” until Rose could go “to the other side” with him.

She never remarried.

I met my husband’s father many times throughout our short courtship and marriage, although he usually only showed me his legs and feet. Once, he reached out and touched me and his fingers were so cold it felt like they were burning my skin.

I had never seen a ghost before and thought the idea of one was silly, frightful fun. I don’t feel that way anymore.

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I couldn’t ask enough questions

Once I was a member of the family, I felt free to ask everything I wanted to know about being psychic. These questions were mainly directed to my mother-in-law, as I think her ability superseded the other’s. Besides, she didn’t mind my constant queries. I think she was flattered by my inquisitiveness.

She did most of her business right at her kitchen table, but she also had a radio show and was hired by several Jackson restaurants who hosted “Psychic Night.” There were several times she was called upon by the Michigan State Police Department for help in cold cases. In one of the most notable instances, she helped find a troubled teenage runaway who fled to Chicago. Without my mother-in-law’s expertise, the girl, already entangled with a dangerous man, may not have gotten rescued and found the help she needed.

Where does psychic ability come from?

Rose told me she knew she had the psychic gift as a child. It made her mother uncomfortable, so she was pressured to suppress it.

It wasn’t until she became an adult that she embraced it, believing it was a God-given talent. She began doing tarot card readings for family and friends. After her husband’s death, she began accruing paying clients. It wasn’t long before she had an extensive clientele in the Jackson, Michigan area and made enough money to support herself and her four children.

Why wasn’t her life perfect if she knew what would happen ahead of time?

I wondered why Rose had made some bad decisions in her life and missed out on some great financial opportunities. Why hadn’t she bought land cheap that would eventually be worth ten times the amount? Why hadn’t she won the lottery? Why didn’t she know her car battery was about to die?

Rose said it was her responsibility to use her talent for good works, not selfish ones. Besides, she said she wasn’t able to predict lottery numbers, although she had a penchant for giving clients special numbers that would be, in general, lucky for them.

She said a lot of being psychic was trusting her instincts.

What happened after Rose predicted a bleak future?

Sometimes Rose saw something unpleasant in someone’s future. It may have been an accident, a divorce, sometimes even death.

Many clients said, half-joking, “Don’t tell me anything bad, okay?”

She told them to relax. While her readings focused on the next six months to two years, what she predicted was not absolute. “All I can tell my clients is what I see coming for them at this exact moment. I am seeing what is ahead based on the path they are taking. If they don’t like my predictions, they need to change the path they are on.”

Sometimes changing one’s path included confronting drug, alcohol, or sex addictions. It also included making modifications in their relationships, such as how they treated and reacted to their friends and family.

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Rose believed everyone had a degree of psychic ability

“Everyone is born with gut instincts, but too often people listen to their brain instead of what the universe is trying to tell them,” Rose told me one day.

“Whoa! You mean I could be psychic too?”

“You already are, to a point. You just need to learn how to strengthen your psychic muscle.”

I stared at her, not sure if she was teasing me.

She smiled and said, “You know how to play basketball, right?”

I shrugged. “I did when I was in school, but it’s been a while.”

“So you learned how to dribble and pass and shoot, right? And so did all the other kids.”

“I suppose.” I didn’t know where she was going with this.

“And the more you all practiced, the better you all got.”

“Of course,” I said.

“Well, how many of your classmates went on to play professionally?”

“None!” I said, giggling.

“Right,” she said, laughing. “Everyone can learn to play basketball and the more they stick with it, the more they improve. But not everyone is going to be Michael Jordon. His talent was extraordinary. Same with being psychic. Everyone has it, and it can be developed. But not everyone will be able to master it.”

Ah! That was my eureka moment!

I began doing some “psychic exercising” and sure enough, I got better at it. But I knew I didn’t have enough of the gift to ever go pro.

Some people depended on psychic readings too much

Rose became wary of a client booking too many appointments. She wasn’t a charlatan gouging people or scaring them into becoming dependent on her. If she saw a client becoming clingy, she’d often tell them they needed to learn to believe in themselves.

“I’m only a guide, I don’t want to be anyone’s crutch.”

I regularly saw her referring people to counseling services in Jackson or loaning out books from her personal library overflowing with self-help manuals ranging from self-esteem and relationship issues to addiction and recovering from sexual abuse.


Marrying into a psychic family was an eye-opener for me. It expanded my respect for beliefs contrary to my own and opened my mind to the power of gut instincts. I learned to start paying attention to changes in my body that might be alerting me to liars, manipulators, and dangerous situations.

Now, instead of shrugging off the feeling of something that’s “just not quite right,” I become wary and hesitant. I’ve learned to trust the signals urging me to walk in the other direction and I’m sure it has saved me a lot of sorrow.

Basically, Rose encouraged everyone to believe in ourselves and follow our instincts. That’s priceless advice we can all afford to heed.

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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