It was a hellish, hot day in Montauk, back in July of 2011, when I went with TJ Clemente, on a work assignment, to interview Ed Koch.
When I entered the lovely, Montauk home where Mr. Koch was staying, he was taking a mid-day siesta on the couch. A moment later, waking with a start, the then 86-year-old, former mayor of New York, was feisty and fiery as ever.
Throughout the interview, I tried to stay in the background, almost invisible, as not to stop the flow of dialogue that was crashing about the room, like the waves of the nearby Atlantic.
When the interview was over, Mr. Koch looked over at me, and before he could say anything, I threw him a curveball by asking him his trademark question, "How'm I doing?" He laughed, and said, "You're doing just great!" He then asked the loaded question, "So, what do you do for a living?"
For most people, that is a simple enough question to answer, but for me -- it usually makes me squirm. Sometimes, I will just say that I am a writer, and leave it at that. That is what I fully intended to do that afternoon, but TJ answered, "She's a psychic/medium."
Oh, boy, the can of worms was opened. There are basically three different stock reactions to my profession:
1) The person then wants to know if I can contact their loved ones who have crossed over. I then answer with my own soundbite: "I am not working right now, and I want to read another person like I want pins in my eyeballs. No, I am not talking to any of your dead relatives. "
2) They look at you like you belong in a straight-jacket, just like those people who think they've landed off a spaceship, or those megalomanics who think they are Napoleon.
3) They think you are a total charlatan looking to sell them snake oil or the fountain of youth, and they want no part of you.
Mr. Koch, however, responded differently. He looked me deeply in the eyes, and asked me to describe what I do. He listened intently, and then the others in the room talked about some psychic experiences they've had or messages that they have received from those who've crossed over. Mr. Koch, at this stage in his life, seemed very interested in what everyone had to say, and added a few funny and intelligent insights of his own.
My impression of this man, who others have judged to be fast-talking, opinionated, and rude, was quite the opposite. That day, with me, he was open, intelligent, funny, inquisitive, gracious, and most kind.
Last night, it was 1:30 a.m., and I was still working, answering emails, when TJ said to me, "Ed Koch is back in the hospital." I didn't look up from my ipad, but answered, "He is in organ failure right now. It's over." I then felt the spirit of Mr. Koch pass by. "How'm I doing?" was the thought that crossed through my mind. Telepathically, I told him, "Great. Godspeed, Mr. Mayor. Go proudly to God. "
I awoke this morning to the news, that our former mayor died at 2 a.m. I was not surprised.
Ed Koch will be missed. Few people have the courage to say what they need to say, without worrying whether people are going to like you or not. He was the quintessential New Yorker, telling it like it is, with that unique brand of New York/Yiddish humor that makes all New Yorkers, as they walk through their day, sound like stand up comedians.
I feel blessed to have met him. May he rest in peace.