Theresa Caputo may talk to dead people for a living but the Long Island Medium says that’s easy compared to the hardest job of all—being a mom.
by Rachel Naud
THERESA CAPUTO is standing in front of an audience of 7,000 people who are all at the edge of their seats. They’re waiting for a message…any message. Her tiny frame is not swallowed up by the enormity of the arena; in fact, if anything, the medium from Hicksville, N.Y. seems larger than life. She’s lifted by shoes so sparkly they resemble Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard Of Oz—if Dorothy’s shoes were on steroids, that is. Her blonde locks are coiffed high above her head, hardened with heaps of hairspray and backcombing. And let’s not forget those nails. The evening starts with a speech—her signal to “Spirit” (i.e. the souls she’s about to channel) that she’s ready to get down to work. As soon as the speech is over, she walks off the stage and drifts into the audience, stopping in front of a young man.
“Someone is a survivor from a car accident and carries survivor’s guilt because the other people died in the car,” she says. “I’m channeling one of the boys who died.” Caputo’s looking straight at the young man who reluctantly came to the event, coerced by his mother and girlfriend. He admitted he was the same man she was talking about. Years ago, he was the driver in a car accident that killed three of his friends. The young man wanted to reach out to one boy’s mother but didn’t know how to go about it since they were more acquaintances than friends. He knew the boy from school but didn’t know him or his family that well.
Caputo turns her head to the right and points upward. “The boy’s spirit is telling me his mother is in this section.”
Ten rows up, a woman listens and watches the young man being interviewed on the jumbo tron. As the story unfolds, she realizes the dead boy that Theresa is channelling is, in fact, her son. She stands up.
“It’s me. I’m his mother.”
The mother makes her way down to the young man and embraces him with the type of hug only a mother can give. “I don’t blame you,” she reassures him between sobs. “It was an accident.”
It’s tear-jerking, emotional moments like this that have shaped Caputo’s career as America’s favourite medium. Her show, Long Island Medium, has been a ratings winner for TLC for six seasons. In addition, she’s penned two books: There’s More to Life Than This: Healing Messages, Remarkable Stories, and Insight from the Other Side (Atria Books, 2013), which debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times Bestseller List, and You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Life-Changing Lessons from Heaven (Atria Books, 2014). She tours across North America and also has a jewelry line to boot.
Most of her fans have come to know and love the quirky Caputo with her big hair and even larger personality through sharing their Sunday nights with her. Every week, these admirers are fascinated by Caputo’s ability to channel loved ones who have passed away. The messages, the healing, the OMGs, the gasps, the laughter and, yes, the tears. There are so many tears. But, this weekly hour is filled with more than just Kleenex-worthy moments.
Viewers are treated to an inside view of what makes Caputo tick: her family.
More than a medium, Caputo prides herself on being a wife to Larry and mom to Larry Jr., 25, and Victoria, 21. She let INBETWEEN into her other realm—her personal life—and opened up about how she raised her kids, the toughest part about the teen years and what lies ahead for her and her family.
MOM’S A MEDIUM
Caputo’s career started way before Long Island Medium came to light. Larry Jr. was just five years old; Victoria a baby at just one.
Caputo started with her gift, a business card and word of mouth, which proved to be more powerful than any advertisement. Before the show even aired, her client waiting list was two years long. (Today, the wait is rumoured to stretch as long as four years, although Caputo wouldn’t confirm.)
Her children grew up knowing nothing else, just as if their mother was a secretary or teacher.
“People would ask them, ‘What does your mother do?’” says Caputo. “The kids would say, ‘My mom talks to dead people’ and they didn’t know how to respond so they would just walk away.”
Today, with the success of her show, books and tours, people are more likely to run towards Caputo and her family to get a glimpse of them than turn the other way. In fact, she says family outings more often than not include fans approaching the Caputo clan to spread their message of appreciation and adoration.
“It’s amazing. We have the most respectful and wonderful fans,” says Caputo. “No matter where we go, everyone just says ‘I just have to say Hi,’ ‘I love what you do,’ ‘Don’t stop doing what you’re doing.’”
Some of these encounters have been hilarious, especially when fans assume the Caputos are impersonators. “They try to figure out if it’s really us,” she laughs.
“One time someone accused my husband, Larry, and I of being impersonators, and then they proceeded to tell my husband that he was better looking than the guy on TV. Larry was like, “I know! We get that all the time!”
Despite having an exceptional life as a medium, Caputo is a typical mother in many ways. The years on the show have captured snippets of motherly moments that are familiar to most parents. We watched her get annoyed with her children for not being home on time for dinner or staying out too late. And any parent could relate to Caputo’s shock when Victoria brought home a new puppy without her permission.
Today, however, now that her kids are grown and out of the house, Caputo and her husband are facing a new phase of life—that of the empty nester.
“It’s a little strange. At first, I was like, ‘No this is terrible.’ But you know what? We kind of got used to it,” she says. “It’s sad at the beginning because you have to come to grips with reality that your kids have grown and it’s just so different. But I always say, my children have prepared my husband and I very well for them moving on to the next phase of their life. They’re just so ready to be on their own. And now that me and Larry have the house to ourselves… we’re like newlyweds!”
Not that this means the kids don’t come home for family dinners. Those get-togethers are still plentiful and jam- packed with all the fun, frazzled moments that make the Caputo family so loveable.
“My son just adopted this dog. So we’ll plan this big barbecue and we’ll be so excited that they’re coming to the house. But now they bring the dog, they bring their friends and it’s just crazy. I look at Larry and say ‘So…what time are they leaving?’” she laughs. “I never thought I would say that. But it’s always so nice to have them back.”
According to Caputo, there’s another bonus to having an empty nest—it’s made her relationship with her children grow even stronger.
“We talk all the time,” she says. “Actually, I know more about them now that they’re out of the house than ever before. I know that sounds weird. But I think we actually talk more.”
Although her children are now young adults, Caputo still remembers the stresses and challenges of the teen years. “It’s not easy being a parent. It’s the hardest job in the world. You think talking to dead people is tough? No. Being a parent is way harder than talking to dead people!”
One of her hardest parenting challenges: letting the kids drive.
“It was the biggest stress for me, having them go out by themselves in the car,” she admits. “They said I had all these crazy rules like no radio allowed for the first six months. They were like ‘Ma, really?” But that was my rule.” Another anxiety-inducing moment: waiting up for them at night.
“When we were kids, your friends called the house, right?” she asks, remembering the angst of when her teens were out at night with their friends. “They called the house and your parents knew they were calling. But now it’s so different with these cellphones. As parents, you don’t know anything. You really have to be on top of your kids more than anything.”
Still, despite the new age of parenting, Caputo says she and Larry raised her kids in a very old school way. “My kids had to ask us permission to go out.
In fact, Victoria still asks me if she can go somewhere or do something and she’s in Connecticut! For her to call and ask shows me that the kids really have respect for us and want us to know what’s going on in their lives.”
Seeing the fruits of her labour, Caputo says, is one of the greatest rewards of parenting.
“I love watching how respectful my children are,” she says. “That, to me, is the greatest reward. To see how loving and caring and nice they are to people. I’m just so proud of that.”
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
While Caputo is no psychic, one doesn’t need a crystal ball to see her future is looking bright.
Currently in production with the sixth season of Long Island Medium, she also plans to continue touring and write a third book.
Plus, she has a jewelry line called Jeweled Moments (jeweledmoments.com) where people can get special keepsakes of loved ones that have passed or special moments in their life they want to capture forever.
“Today, when people pass away, people are getting tattoos in their memory,” says Caputo. “We recently lost our dog, Petey, and my husband is having Petey tattooed on his chest. I love my dog. I don’t want him tattooed on me.”
The solution: A jewelry line comprised of hand-made custom pieces. Whether you take a sample of your loved one’s handwriting and turn it into a necklace (Caputo made one from a sample of her grandmother’s handwriting that says ‘Love Always, Gram”) or even a picture your child drew for you that you want to cherish forever, one needs to simply upload the image and transform it into a charm of their choice.
Other than that, Caputo is focused on living in the moment—every fantastic ounce of it.
“How crazy is my life?” she says. “I never thought I would be where I am, but I wouldn’t picture it any other way. It feels so right. It’s such a privilege learning to honour your soul and who you are meant to be in the physical world. That’s what I wish for my children. I want them to have that. I want everyone to have that.”