Paranormal-themed event to honor Mystic woman's father, benefit Shatterproof

Mystic — Haunted history tours. Conversations with the dead. Entrepreneurship. A father lost to substance abuse.

These things define 32-year-old Courtney Reardon, who on April 27 is hosting a medium demonstration — she’s calling it an “evening with spirit” — in support of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit that helps people who struggle with addiction and their families.

“Growing up, I always knew I had seen more than others,” said Reardon, who has been leading lantern-lit, history-laden tours of downtown since 2013.

“On the tours, I started delivering messages to people and saying, ‘Does this mean anything to you?’” she said. “And so many times it was accurate to people. I thought, ‘Maybe I am more tuned into whatever (the spirits) are saying than I thought.” 

More than the addiction

Reardon said her father, John McInvale, worked the night shift as a cop in East Hampton, where she, her mother and her two younger sisters grew up.

While her mother worked as a teacher, McInvale would watch the girls. Sometimes he also hosted "Indian Princess" sessions in which other fathers and their daughters would come over to create something together, such as wooden cars to race or dream catchers to hang.

“He was an awesome dad,” Reardon said. “I don’t know when he was getting his sleep.”

At some point, Reardon said her father had to shoot a man who was coming toward him. The man didn’t die, but something changed in McInvale, Reardon said.

Not long after, the former sergeant elected to leave policing after a disagreement with his bosses, Reardon said. Though he went on to hold several other jobs, he never was the same.

“He really started this downhill cycle of depression,” Reardon said. “He had trouble getting out of bed. He was in the hospital trying this medication, that medication, everything" in an attempt to address his mental illness.

“He found some (medications) that he loved, but we didn’t because we didn’t recognize him anymore,” she said.

When she was 14 — a freshman in high school — and her sisters were 11 and 8, McInvale told them he was going to Georgia to make things right with his family and get better.

“My dad said to me and my sisters, ‘Look, I’ve got a lot going on that I don’t understand in my own head,’” she said. “‘I don’t know why I’m doing this. But I love being your father and I want to be good again.’”

McInvale died of substance-abuse-related complications in Macon, Ga., on Jan. 31, 2010. He was 56.

“Admittedly in high school I was angry,” Reardon said. “I wasn’t very forgiving of my father. The way everything was told to us was, addiction is a choice. They made a bad choice. They love that (drug) more than you.”

That messaging, Reardon said, is indicative of how people used to view addiction, a brain disease.

“But when he passed I was so much more devastated than I expected,” Reardon said, “which showed how much I was bottling up.”

If nothing else, Reardon said, she has learned her father was more than his addiction and had an impact on her.

McInvale was a history major; Reardon’s business focuses on history. McInvale wanted Reardon to be a writer; Reardon has published two books.

“I wish I could call him,” she said. “I want to go back and extract the time that I wasn’t paying attention to the other things about him that were great.”

'Just give it a shot'

Reardon's business, Seaside Shadows Haunted History Tours, now operates in three towns and employs a team of paid guides. Reardon also hosts private readings, parties and group events as a spirit medium.

She knows some people greet her work with skepticism — and she understands why — but she insists she has no other way of knowing the information she shares with people.

In a recent case, for example, Reardon said she had jotted some notes as her client was en route — her typical strategy.

She was seeing the initials “d” and “m,” she said, and kept hearing, “We’re famous.”

She asked the woman about it.

“She was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s my dad’s tagline for the family,’” Reardon said. “‘He died years ago, but he would tell me my godfather was supposed to be Dean Martin, and we always laughed so hard.’”

Reardon, who has written two books and appreciates research and reason, said she’s sure there’s a logical reason for her ability — she just hasn’t figured it out.

“We use this very small part of our brain,” she said. “Who’s to say this other part isn’t intuitive enough to pick up on spirit?”

Reardon said her intention is to show people their loved ones, although dead, are still with them.

“You don’t have to believe in how it works,” she said. “Just give it a shot and be open. Worst case, you’ll know you’re never alone. Everybody can embrace that — we all want to know we’re loved.”

The Saturday, April 27, event at Coastal Lodge No. 57 in Stonington runs from 7 to 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at bit.ly/AnEveningWithSpiritShatterproof.

l.boyle@theday.com

If you go

The Saturday, April 27, event at Coastal Lodge No. 57 in Stonington will feature Courtney Reardon, a business owner and practicing spirit medium, "delivering messages of love and validation from those who have crossed over."

It will benefit Shatterproof, a national nonprofit that helps people who struggle with addiction and their families. Tickets for the event, which will run from 7 to 9:15 p.m., are $35.

To purchase tickets visit bit.ly/AnEveningWithSpiritShatterproof.

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