If you've ever fallen in love with a place while on vacation and wondered what it would be like to live there for more than a usual vacation's worth of time, you're my reader. Step right into a vicarious travel experience as Larry Lawyer and I try to make ourselves at home in Provence. Stay with us -- we've got a virtual guest room -- as we spend a month in each of four consecutive years in the pretty, medieval town of L'Isle sur la Sorgue - pronounced 'Leel sur la Sorg' - in the heart of Provence." Don't worry if you can't speak or understand French. Hang out with us for a while and you'll speak it as badly as we do.

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Crazy #1

Apr 11, 2013

It was 1972. Peter was eight years old. He had moved to a wheelchair the year before, the same year that I read a book called Healing Hands. The book told the story of an Englishman, George Chapman, apparently an ordinary fireman in the Aylesbury Fire Brigade. Mr. Chapman was experimenting with the paranormal when he discovered that he was able to go into a trance and channel the healing powers of a London surgeon named Dr. Lang. What made the situation even more bizarre was the fact that Dr. Lang had died in 1937. The only information that sounded the least bit sane, was that Dr. Lang was, varifiably, an ophthalmic surgeon at London’s Middlesex Hospital up until 1914. (In case you think I’m out of my mind, you can check all of this on Google.)

The book contained testimony by a number of people with a variety of ailments who claimed they had been cured by Dr. Lang, working through Mr. Chapman. Chapman/Lang is credited with curing an inoperable and malignant brain tumor, among other cancers, as well as with improving various eye conditions and even lengthening a patient’s leg. Chapman himself maintained that the purpose of his healing mission was to prove that there was life after death; the healings, he said, were secondary.

Both my husband, Larry and I think of ourselves as very rational people. Larry was sure the guy was a fake who took financial advantage of desperate people like ourselves. I decided to write. I remember wondering to whom I should address the letter – Mr Chapman? Dr. Lang? Both of them? 

I asked how much he charged for a visit and if he had ever cured a child with DMD. He wrote back stating his fee – which was the English equivalent of about $10. So he might be a fraud, but at least he was an inexpensive fraud. He also said he had never cured a child with DMD, but that spirit-healing wasn’t disease specific. He might or might not be able to help Peter. He made no guarantees.

A few months later, we found ourselves in the waiting room of Chapman/Lang’s “medical” office outside of London. The other people in the room looked totally normal. So, I suppose, did we.

When it was our turn, the receptionist ushered us into Dr. Lang’s dimly lit office. Lang rose from his desk to greet us. He was a slim man with a neat beard. He was dressed in a dark, three-piece suit. Although at that time Mr. Chapman was only 51 years-old, his posture was stooped, like an old man’s. When he greeted us by name, his voice quavered like an old man’s. It seemed that he was not just channeling Dr. Lang, he was also impersonating him. Weirdest of all was the fact that his eyes were slammed shut. Even so, he reached out confidently to shake our hands. Was he peeking?